Building a Pipeline of Young Entrepreneurs in Milwaukee
MKE Startup Week begins Monday, Nov. 5th and for the second consecutive year approximately forty Pathways High students will showcase their startup business ideas at the Student Pitch Night on Thursday, November 8, 5:00 - 6:30 PM at Pathways High, 336 W. Walnut Street. The students’ business ideas were developed as part of a nine-week Entrepreneurship seminar taught in collaboration with faculty from the UW-Milwaukee Lubar Entrepreneurship Center and Pathways High. Some of the students chose to work on teams while others worked individually to refine their business concepts using design thinking and the Business Model Canvas. For most of the students this was their first experience developing a business. The intent of the Entrepreneurship seminar is for students to gain:
An understanding of the design thinking process, the foundation for project development across multiple disciplines
Experience with presenting their ideas and receiving feedback in a public forum
Confidence in their ability to develop solutions to consumer or community problems
Mentor(s) to assist in launching their new business if they want to pursue this path
A corollary benefit of the Entrepreneurship seminar is the pipeline of young entrepreneurs it can provide to the startup ecosystem in the Milwaukee region. By facilitating productive collisions between Pathways High students, entrepreneurs, business leaders and mentors in our area, the growth of the ecosystem will accelerate. This activity is critical as we are working to reverse a national decline in entrepreneurship among young people. According to the most recent Gallup-HOPE survey on youth entrepreneurship, students’ interest in entrepreneurship declines over their school careers. More than half of children in grades 5-8 said they wanted to start their own businesses, a rate that held steady from 2011 to 2016. But by high school, interest in entrepreneurship dropped to little more than a third of students in 2011, and an even smaller share, 27 percent, in 2016. Pathways High is fortunate to be in Milwaukee at a time when there is significant attention and resources focused on growing our startup and tech ecosystems. Wisconsin Startup Week, the MKE Tech Hub and Cream City Labs are prime examples of this effort. Our community knows we have to be intentional about nurturing an entrepreneurial mindset as well as skills in the STEAM disciplines. We’re also fortunate to have a key ingredient that successful entrepreneurs, like Chris Heivly, co-founder of Mapquest, and Brad Feld, co-founder of Foundry Group, say is required for a thriving startup ecosystem: "the willingness of people to help others without the expectation of something in return."* I’ve seen this unconditional generosity of time and talent from our community countless times and especially as it pertains to the development and work of Pathways High. I know Milwaukee’s future is bright because of this generosity! I look forward to welcoming you to our Student Pitch Night at Pathways High on Thursday, Nov. 8th at 5:00pm. The words of one Pathways High student, Leah, express her enthusiasm for Thursday's event. "Entrepreneurship is a very interesting and unique seminar. I especially like how we designed our own products and I am excited to pitch mine with my partner." Your encouragement and support of our students as they explore their entrepreneurial pathways is greatly appreciated!
*Forward by Brad Feld in the report, "Rise of the Global Startup City: The New Map of Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital" by Richard Florida and Ian Hathaway