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Entrepreneurial Bootcamp For Young Students Comes To St. Louis

May to March Bootcamp, Youth CITIES, Venture Cafe
(courtesy Youth CITIES)

All they need is a business idea ... and youth.

A new 10-week entrepreneurial bootcamp aimed at sixth through 12th graders will soon begin at Venture Café.

The goal of the March to May Bootcamp is to help students start their own businesses, but also give them the tools to succeed in whatever path they choose.

"The ability to come up with an idea and analyze that idea and figure out the next steps to move that idea forward, that will make a student much more employable," said Travis Sheridan, executive director of Venture Café. "It’s a great life skill and hopefully it will help them as they progress through their education and life."

The classes meet every Saturday from March 7 until May 9 from 9 a.m. until noon at Venture Café in Midtown St. Louis. The first eight weeks will be instruction and the last two weeks will focus on a business competition, with the winner taking home $1,500.

Sheridan said the hope is that every student will take what they’ve learned and launch their own business.

"The reason why it ends in May is that, for these kids, it would be great if they didn’t get a summer job this year, but if they’d start running their own business as their summer job," he said.

The March to May Bootcamp is part of Youth Creating Impact Through Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Sustainability (CITIES), which was started six years ago in Boston. Founder Vicky Wu Davis said her goal was to give students a way to explore entrepreneurism and innovative thinking.

"I wanted my kids, as well as other kids, to know that entrepreneurship doesn’t necessarily mean for business-minded people only," Davis said. "In fact, it’s not a choice of do I want to be a business person or a dancer ... if you’re entrepreneurial, it can enhance whatever interest you have."

The bootcamps are aimed at getting students from all backgrounds and interests. Davis said she wants students from the city and country, tech geeks and artists, introverts and extroverts, as well as kids from different socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds.

"In this program the common denominator is that they’re ambitious and they’re hardworking and they want to succeed and there’s a lot of cross pollination that happens," Davis said.

Fifteen positions are available for the March to May Bootcamp in St. Louis. Venture Café is taking applications until Feb. 16. There is a $25 application fee and a $295 program fee. Sheridan said Venture Café will offer scholarships for anyone who is not able to pay the program fee.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.