A group of 30 high school students in Vancouver will play the startup pitching game this Thursday as they pitch local entrepreneurs, angel investors, educators and policy makers in front of 300 people.
The students are part of the Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad, a program that promotes entrepreneurial-thinking amongst high school students. YELL launched last year at West Vancouver High School and will expand into Richmond and Coquitlam districts this fall.
The event will take place at the Projecting Change Film Festival (SFU Woodwards, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts) with Payfirm’s CEO Michael Gokturk giving a keynote talk.
“Every brilliant mind of our time is talking about reforming our education system and figuring out a better way to empower youth,” said YELL’s Rattan Bagga. “The YELL team believes the way to do this is to instill entrepreneurial thinking in our youth.”
The YELL program has been underway at the West Vancouver School district since 2013 and gives students the chance to learn from successful entrepreneurs in their area. Guided by mentors the students are encouraged to exercise entrepreneurial thinking to solve real world problems.
“Creating the innovative and game-changing companies of tomorrow means encouraging entrepreneurial thinking in youth today,” said Gokturk. “YELL is empowering future business leaders with access to invaluable hands on experience and mentorship and I’m honoured to a part of this year’s Venture Challenge.”
It’s not the first time that teenaged high school students may be wowing the larger tech community. Several times last year we told the story of Ann Makosinski, a talented young student from Victoria who invented the Hollow Flash Light, a light that is powered by the body heat of a human. Makosinski was named the number one most interesting story on BetaKit’s top 15 most interesting stories from 2013.
The YELL is a three-phase training program for rising high school seniors designed to increase diversity and opportunity in leadership and business education with a goal to empower the next generation of Canadian problem solvers. The program consists of nine weekly 2.5 hour Business Accelerator sessions covering different topics in business and leadership, an Idea Incubator phase where students write business plans and prepare for presentations in a Venture Challenge – the third module of the program.