The West Virginia University College of Business and Economics welcomed 29 innovative West Virginia high school students to campus this week for the 2018 Governor’s School for Entrepreneurship (GSE).
Cohosted by the West Virginia Department of Education, the students will spend the next three weeks on campus, learning the skills and mindset to create, innovate and problem solve through courses, discussions, games, adventure and experiential learning activities like the Challenge Course at the WVU Outdoor Education Center, working in new venture teams and the “trash to treasure” exercise. Activities and courses are taught and overseen by WVU and B&E faculty including Dr. Elizabeth Vitullo, Assistant Dean for B&E Graduate Programs, and Carrie White, Director of the WVU LaunchLab, as well as other experts from across campus and around the state.
“What better way to build the future than through the brains, creativity and excitement of our young people,” said Sherry Keffer, coordinator of the Governor’s School of West Virginia. “The Governor's School for Entrepreneurship is an innovative opportunity for our bright, young minds to create and sustain business or inventions that will make West Virginia the place to work and live because it will give the students the skills they need to innovate and sustain.”
The students also have the opportunity to network and meet successful entrepreneurs from the state and region. Nesha Sanghavi, the cofounder, owner and president of UG Apparel, served as the keynote speaker during the opening ceremonies. A 2008 B&E finance and economics graduate, she inspired the students with her story of becoming an entrepreneur.
“I didn’t realize it, but, like you, I was an entrepreneur my entire life. It wasn’t about making money. It was about finding a problem and making a solution,” Sanghavi said. “Like any entrepreneur, I have heard ‘no’ so many times, but I kept pushing and pushing until I got that yes!”
The young entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to bring their dreams and business ideas to life, learning about prototyping and pitching their ideas to community and area business leaders. On Saturday, July 14, the final day of GSE, students will exhibit their innovations during Demo Day at the WVU LaunchLab.
“We have all watched entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to the investors on Shark Tank, but how many of us know what it really takes to get to that point? I am not talking about the application process. I am talking about how an entrepreneur identified a problem, formulated a solution, validated it with customers, and then took it to market,” said Bryan Shaw, GSE business coach and founder and president of Scalable Ventures, Inc. “These entrepreneurs, or founders, are in the position to pitch to investors because they understood the processes and put in the time and effort to make it happen. The Governor’s School for Entrepreneurship teaches our children the very same concepts of starting a business through an experiential learning process unlike anything else in the state.”
GSE not only makes a positive impact on the lives of high school students from around West Virginia, but it also has the potential to make a strong impact on the state and its economy.
“GSE is a catalyst for positive change in the Mountain State, and I am proud to have been associated with it since its inception in 2016,” said Jeremy Turner, GSE business coach and founder and managing director of EPIC Mission, Inc. “We have within our great state all of the resources we need to reinvent ourselves for a brighter future, and the greatest of these is our young minds.”