We’ve watched hundreds of INCubatoredu students take part in life-changing experiences, create businesses that impact their communities, and grow in important ways. Four young women share their personal stories of achievement and growth through this high school entrepreneurship program:
Exposure to opportunities outside the classroom
“INCubatoredu teaches the ins and outs of real life,” says Destiny Flores, an INCedu student at Woodstock High School in Woodstock, Illinois.
“Most classes in high school have you sitting with a textbook and reading … but what does that really teach us? It teaches us to memorize and learn things for a test, but it doesn’t teach the communication and career-readiness that this class does.”
Through the program, students are connected with business leaders in their communities. Jen Soulé, president of Woodstock-based OWC, a technology firm, tapped Destiny for a once-in-a-lifetime experience - to attend the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in NYC. Destiny was one of two students invited by Soulé. The other was from Austin, Texas where the company has a second location. Woodstock High School INCubatoredu teacher, Dustin Smith, said Destiny was an excellent student and an obvious choice for the Summit because of her drive, passion, and love of networking.
“Destiny was the first one who came to mind. She’s really passionate about women and youth entrepreneurs,” he said. “She’s extremely passionate about business. She’s probably taken every business class we have to offer.”
It was Destiny’s first trip to NYC, and she felt like she fit in with the business environment. “It was good to hear that these very successful women felt like even young girls like myself are worth investing in.”
Destiny said she hopes to attend Illinois State University next fall and major in business administration with a minor in art history. Her entrepreneur dream is to someday open her own art gallery.
By exposing students to a network of professionals and entrepreneurs, providing an environment to problem-solve and work together to meet a shared goal, these high school students have a leg up with what they need to forge a path with confidence.
Confidence in Facing New Challenges
Emily Krueger, an INCubatoredu student alum from Barrington High School, in Illinois, says, “The confidence I gained through INCubatoredu was undoubtedly the most valuable takeaway. ”Collaborating with investors, mentors and peers on a daily basis allowed me to learn from the experience of others, become comfortable sharing my ideas with a team, and face new challenges head on.”
“I was under the impression that all you needed was an innovative, one-of-a-kind idea to succeed in entrepreneurship,” says Emily, now an Iowa State University alum, working at Chicago brand development Agency, Soulsight. “I quickly realized that the people you surround yourself with and choose to build your business with will impact your success far more than the product or service you provide.”
Students like Emily learn valuable skills by working with a team to create and pressure-test a business idea. They have exposure to business leaders in their communities who mentor and provide real-world guidance, and ultimately pitch to investors who weigh in, and potentially invest in the business.
A New Lens on Time Management
“When creating or managing a business, there are so many details that you cannot let go unnoticed,” says Jasmine Spittel, a INCubatoredu student alum from Horace Mann High School in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. “Knowing what is needed and not needed to tackle your day head-on, and prioritizing the most important or critical tasks first, is something I do on a daily basis. INCubatoredu played a giant role in my everyday routine and made me a more organized professional overall.” Jasmine, co-creator of C-Ball, says she gained skills in INCubatoredu that she wouldn’t have otherwise explored, such as public speaking.
The Power of Strong Public Speaking Skills
“Speaking in front of 10 people was hard enough. Knowing I would have to face 100+ people to pitch our idea was very tough for me,” Jasmine shares. “Having the tools and support from mentors and teachers—learning not only to speak but to have confidence in my speaking—allowed me to open up and get better at something so important.”
And she’s right, the ability to speak in public is increasingly important regardless of career path. Strong speaking skills are in high demand in the workplace, (and these are the skills hiring managers most want from job candidates).
After working through the INCubatoredu curriculum in collaboration with her business partner, Kaitlyn Sterba, Jasmine was able to flex her public speaking skills at Ignite Youth Idea Challenge, where she and Kaitlyn pitched C-Ball to a panel of judges.
“This was eight months of hard work, detailed planning, advertising, traveling, and learning all coming down to one night. A simple five-minute pitch,” says Jasmine. After an impressive pitch, she and Kaitlyn won first place and took home $2,000 in seed funding.
Being My Own Boss
Mia Nguyen was interested in INCubatoredu because she admits, “being your own boss sounded pretty nice to my 15-year-old self.” Mia joined the INCubatoredu program to learn more about business. The majority of her family is in medicine so her curiosity extended their knowledge as she sought out to learn more about entrepreneurship in general.
Instantly, Mia felt INCubatoredu was different from traditional classroom experience. “The moment I stepped into the classroom I felt more at home. The design of the classroom was energizing and I remember marveling at all the empty whiteboards waiting to be filled. My teacher, Hagop Soulakian, was unlike any other instructor I had before and his un-traditional approach encouraged me to recognize that the skills I had initially written off were actually strengths in this setting. I enjoyed learning from various coaches, the independent time to work, and the flexibility given in the class structure.”
Currently, Mia is the founder and co-director of WISE (Women's Interdisciplinary Society of Entrepreneurship), a new student organization at Northeastern University in Boston dedicated to supporting young women interested in learning an entrepreneurial mindset through interactive workshops, intimate startup classes, and a mentorship program. She was featured in BostINNO’s 25 Rising Innovators Under 25 in September. She said, “Sometimes, it takes a village to let women know they have a voice. WISE is here to help women develop an innovative mindset and to show them all the entrepreneurship opportunities there are in New England and the Greater Boston Area.”
Mia credits INCubatoredu with effectively increasing her communication skills, a necessary foundation for her continuing education and career path. She says, “By having the opportunity to engage in the Uncharted Learning program I was able to strengthen my communication skills which I've learned is vital in any professional setting. Whether this was taught by speaking with the coaches, pitching my project, or chatting with my teammates, I was constantly challenged to utilize my voice and speak up.”
Preparing Students for Lifelong Success
Since 2013, Uncharted Learning has been committed to fostering an entrepreneurial mindset among students. INCubatoredu students gain both skills and access to opportunities that provide growth and development in so many areas like time management, public speaking, communication, and the confidence to put their ideas into action.
“Throughout INCubatoredu, I found myself putting all of my time and effort into the class, simply because I loved the environment,” says Jasmine. “This class was the best opportunity I have ever been given.”