Recently, The Grove hosted a first-of-its-kind youth entrepreneurship weekend called The Capacitor inviting 13 youths to The Grove’s social coworking space for an exciting weekend of business development. The Capacitor is a three-day “immersive entrepreneurial experience” for children of any age that was created by Aaron Yang of Makarios Community School.
Yang approached Justin Nygren, Co-owner of The Grove, in January of this year with an interest to create a youth-centric entrepreneurship weekend and along with Melissa Wright, of Renegades of Code, the trio started to build out this concept. The first immersion experience was March 24-26. and saw 13 children arrive at The Grove on a Friday after school prepared to pitch an idea to a panel of judges before being broken up into teams and paired with a mentor that would guide them through the weekend experience.
The 13 participants pitched a total of eight business ideas, with four ultimately chosen, having the most promise for becoming a viable business concept. Once teams were created and the mentors assigned, there was a discussion of Lean Canvas, the tool that would guide them through the weekend and break down the elements of a business’ structure.
Bright and early on Saturday the teams reconvened at The Grove, spending the morning with their mentors building out their Lean Canvas. By the afternoon, with their ideas having been meted out, it was time to think about validation of their concepts, with some teams going out into Dallas’ West End to get actual feedback from people out in the streets. Other teams chose to utilize phone interviews with their target market to obtain feedback, while all groups were able to practice their elevator pitch and hear feedback.
One of Nygren’s biggest concerns was that the youth participants would, as children do, lose focus or interest, but during the long working day of Saturday, they performed well and were very engaged with what they were doing. By Sunday morning the four teams were ready to pitch their ideas, articulate their visions, and answer questions about their product from the judges with an audience filled with their friends and families.
With prize money up to $1,000 on the line, each team did an outstanding job of pitching, proving why they deserved the prize. The winner, selected by the judges, was the team behind the Crocodili Clip, a hand-held tool that allows children to open up snack packages easily and without destroying the packaging.
The event would have been impossible without the mentors that took the teams under their wings. Jannica Morton, the managing partner of Sites2Behold, Wright, Dan Franks of Podcast Movement, and Derek Millar from Cyanide and Happiness lent their time and expertise to the weekend, leading their teams to great and unprecedented heights.