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Local youth summer camp to foster future entrepreneurs

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Saturday, Mar 02, 2013 06:00 am

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Some students in St. Albert won’t have time to barbecue this summer. They’ll be getting their heads together for a taste of business.

The Northern Alberta Business Incubator is bringing a new summer camp to St. Albert.

The weeklong Entrepreneurship Academy – running July 7 to 12 – will give 50 students in Grades 11 and 12 a crash-course on how to start and run a business.

Based on a model by Purdue University in Indiana, the academy is an entrepreneurship program designed to foster math, science and technology-based business skills among youth.

NABI will partner with Purdue University and Canadian entrepreneur Wendy Kennedy, who created the So What? Who Cared? Why You? method.

The method guides science and technology innovators through a step-by-step process on developing their business strategy.

Summer camp participants will be divided into 10 teams of five students, each group learning to market a specific business idea or product with Kennedy’s approach.

Kathy Janzen, program and marketing director at NABI, said Kennedy, NABI staff and an educator from Purdue would be teaching the basics of business success for the first two days.

Afterward, the students will meet mentors who will help them apply their new knowledge to a specific business idea.

Janzen said they are still working on attracting people in the community to sponsor a team. Sponsors would also provide the mentors.

“These kids will get a much better idea of what it takes to take an idea and develop it into a business and what are the things they need to consider,” she said.

“And when you run through this you have a very good feeling whether or not your idea is commercially viable.”

Some of the questions the students will have to answer are who their customer is and why he cares about the product, and – most important – why someone should buy from them instead of choosing the competition.

They will also attend a number of workshops on oral presentation and presentation skills.

On the final day, each team gives a 15-minute pitch to a panel of judges in a business plan competition.

Janzen said the best three teams receive scholarships and prizes to use toward secondary education. Prizes will most likely range between $1500 and $500.

But winning won’t be easy.

Janzen said the kids will put in long hours each day but NABI is also providing them with meals, some physical activities, icebreakers and fieldtrips.

The program targets teens with a strong work ethic – with possible backgrounds in math and science – who want to go to NAIT or university following high school.

The cost for the camp is $75 and students have to write a 250-word essay explaining why they want to participate.

The majority of participants will be from St. Albert. But there may also be some from the greater Edmonton area, rural schools and possibly Westlock and Fort McMurray schools.

Janzen said the students would benefit from the program in the long run. She often meets business owners who spent their last dime on an idea but went nowhere with it, she said.

“It could safe a lot of heart break and a lot of grief if people went through this first and had a strategy in place and knew exactly what there were getting into,” she said.

More information on the summer camp is available at


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