Teen Business Challenge Builds Creativity, Collaboration

Next February, 20 entrepreneurial-minded teens in Tampa Bay will have an opportunity to hone their business skills and bring a new idea to life.

The first ever Teen Business Challenge, February 21 – 23 at FirstWaVE Venture Center in Tampa, allows selected teens to participate in workshops and activities to hone their entrepreneurial skills, creativity and perhaps even create a new business.

The event takes place over a three days. Participants start by learning basic concepts such as creative problem solving, concept modeling and marketing. They then gather in teams of five to create a business model, taking it into the community to identify potential customers. The final step is a Shark Tank-style pitch competition to an audience of local business leaders, venture capitalists and investors.

"I know that if kids could be a part of this somehow, they would love it," says David Harris, executive director for Teen Business Challenge and graduate of the University of South Florida.

The inspiration for the program came when Harris saw a 10-year-old boy begging on a street corner. "We’ve got to be able to reach these kids, let them know there are alternatives," thought Harris. The group is targeting those in low-income neighborhoods that might not otherwise have access to this kind of opportunity, but anyone can be nominated.

A gamification component provides additional motivation by awarding points at different times during the event.

All participants receive an iPad mini, with the winner receiving additional prizes. But, the ultimate win is the skills gained by everyone involved. "I like to feel like everybody leaves a winner," says Harris.

Teen Business Challenge is partnering with Computer Mentors Group and 100 Black Men of Tampa Bay on the first event.

The event will take place annually in Tampa, and will eventually be expanded on the global level.

"We want to show kids how to uplift themselves, and leverage their awesomeness to come up with new products and ideas," says Harris.

Writer: Megan Hendricks
Source: David Harris, Teen Business Challenge

Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

Megan Hendricks is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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