Tag Archive | "fixyoungamerica"

IndieGoGo’s Co-Founder Wants Kids to Launch 10 Startups in 10 Years



Slava Rubin, co-founder and CEO of crowdfunding website IndieGoGo, has an ambitious plan to plant the seeds of entrepreneurship in the minds of students: He wants them to launch a new startup every year for ten years in middle school through college.

“The best way for students to become entrepreneurs is through practice and experience,” writes Rubin in his contribution to the #FixYoungAmerica book, to be published in May. “LeBron James became a basketball star because he practiced and played basketball regularly from an early age, not just because he watched Michael Jordan on television.”

Rubin believes entrepreneurship deserves a place in classrooms nationwide, right alongside calculus and biology. Few schools, says Rubin, teach students that they can become successful entrepreneurs and business owners, so the career field doesn’t appear on students’ radars the way that “doctor” or “lawyer” might.

“Most college students think their options are limited to the jobs they’ve already been exposed to,” says Rubin. “No one mentions ‘entrepeneur.’”

Rubin’s curriculum is divided into four parts, one for each semester of the school year. During the first semester, students would learn the basic theories of business and crowdfunding. Next, students would be tasked with brainstorming ideas, research and designing their marketing campaign. In the third semester, students would run their campaign and pitch to investors. Finally, students would review their experience and apply the lessons they learned to next year’s project.

Coming up with an idea, a business plan and a sales pitch for a new startup every year may seem like a daunting task to many, but Rubin says it’s about teaching confidence. He certainly doesn’t expect every one of these startups to succeed. In fact, he insists that failure is an important and humbling part of becoming an entrepreneur.

“Kids will grow and learn from their mistakes,” says Rubin.

Rubin also acknowledges the difficultly of instituting such a sweeping education reform in a political climate where major changes often face considerable opposition. For him, the plan is about disrupting the American education system in a way that’s not limited by any constraints.

“I didn’t limit myself by how feasible [this plan] was tomorrow,” says Rubin. “I wanted to come up with my proposed solution in a blue-sky way, considering reasonable limitations.”

Raising money through crowdfunding, says Rubin, will help these students streamline the process of opening a business. Rubin also points out that it’s a time-honored tradition, and not a new concept born of the Internet age — New York City, he writes, turned to contributions from residents when it needed to raise money to build a base for the Statue of Liberty.

For Rubin, this is all about teaching kids that anyone with a good idea and a dream can become the next Zuckerberg.

“I think it’s really unfair how massive a leap I had to make to become an entrepreneur,” says Rubin. “It didn’t feel comfortable or safe or intelligent in a common sense way — when it really it could be if it was taught in the education infrastructure.”

Rubin’s plan is part of the #FixYoungAmerica campaign, an initiative to help reduce youth unemployment through entrepreneurship.

SEE ALSO: Can We Fix Young America With Technology and Entrepreneurship?

Do you think it’s worthwhile for students to learn entrepreneurial skills in a hands-on way? Sound off in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mediaphotos

More About: entrepreneurs, fixyoungamerica, Small Business, Social Good, Startups

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Can a Startup Renaissance Fix Young America?



A “startup renaissance” could finally shrink America’s record-high youth unemployment rate. At least that’s how John Harthorne, CEO of startup accelerator MassChallenge, sees it.

Harthorne is the founder and CEO of MassChallenge, a successful Boston-based competitive startup accelerator that grants $1 million to startups that have the “highest impact.”

Those high-impact startups end up growing and hiring young talent, he says.

“America has lost its creative edge. How do we restore it? It’s created by startups.”

“America has lost its creative edge,” Harthorne says. “How do we restore it? It’s created by startups. All recent net job growth has been created by companies under five years of age.”

Harthorne’s plan to ignite a worldwide rebirth of startups comes in three stages, modeled on the template of MassChallenge.

First, Harthorne calls for the design of “a massive startup accelerator based on input and support from experienced leaders.”

A startup accelerator is an organization that provides startups with early funding, office space or connections with influential people that can help bring a startup idea to fruition.

In building MassChallenge, Harthorne wanted to go big: at least 100 startups at a time. And he recognized that he didn’t have the expertise to do it alone, so he enlisted the help and advice of top entrepreneurs and startup owners in the Boston tech community.

Next, Harthorne suggests turning the accelerator into a competition. A competitive format helps MassChallenge address the challenges of attracting attention and engagement, it helps the tech community identify startups with the potential to succeed, and it celebrates and helps connect the most successful entrepreneurs with the resources they need to keep working.

Finally, Harthorne’s plan calls for celebrating startups that create something of value for everyone’s benefit rather than those that focus on maximizing profits for themselves. He says this belief will encourage startups to serve as a rising tide that that lifts all boats, helping to reduce youth unemployment in the U.S.

“Startups are vital for value creation in the economy,” he says. “They are new businesses by definition, and as innovators, startups sometimes invent or redefine whole industries. We wanted to do our part to help re-emphasize sustainable value creation. Something pretty amazing happened when we made that decision. The community rallied around our tiny, unknown organization with an overwhelming outpouring of support.”

MassChallenge accelerated 111 startups in its first year, and another 125 the next. Those first 111 startups have gone from having fewer than 300 employees to more than 800 in a year’s time. If MassChallenge’s template could be applied to other places around the U.S., it may have the potential to make a serious dent in youth unemployment.

Harthorne’s full plan will be published in the #FixYoungAmerica book, available in May.

For that book, the #FixYoungAmerica campaign has asked the top thinkers in technology, business and education to come up with ideas for alleviating youth unemployment and underemployment through entrepreneurship. Mashable has been given an inside look at some of the ideas that focus on technology’s role in helping to get more young people hired to do innovative work. For the next several weeks, Mashable will be highlighting these technology-focused ideas to create jobs for American youth.

What do you think of MassChallenge’s model as a way to help Fix Young America? Sound off in the comments below.


BONUS: How Do Co-Founders Meet? 17 Startups Tell All



1. Airbnb -- Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia




I moved to San Francisco in early 2007 and found an apartment and a roommate through Craigslist -- that's how I met Joe. He was a designer, and I was an engineer at another startup at the time. I later moved out, and Brian -- who knew Joe from the Rhode Island School of Design -- moved in. That was the initial connection for the three of us.

While I lived with Joe, I came to appreciate two things about him -- he worked just as hard as I did, and his skills complemented my own. I have the technical abilities, and he had the creative design skills.

In the summer of 2008, there was a design conference in San Francisco, and there was a hotel shortage. We needed to make rent and thought a good way to make a little additional cash would be to rent out our air mattresses in the apartment. We made a website and got an incredible amount of responses, and we realized we could be on to something.

- Nathan Blecharczyk

Click here to view this gallery.

Thumbnail image courtesy of iStockphoto, lisegagne

More About: fixyoungamerica, masschallenge, Social Good, Startups, US

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Can We Fix Young America With Technology and Entrepreneurship?


With youth unemployment at a 60-year high and student-loan debt nearing the $1 trillion mark, can anything be done by the technology sector to help young Americans struggling to find work? Yes, says the #FixYoungAmerica campaign, launching Monday.

#FixYoungAmerica is seeking to address a single, nagging question in the U.S.: How do we overcome the twin epidemics of youth unemployment and underemployment?

To that end, #FixYoungAmerica campaign is releasing a book designed to help fix those problems. It’s chock full of ideas from some of the country’s top intellectuals, nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, educators, politicians and entrepreneurs.

Several of the ideas put forward involve technology: teaching kids how to code, requiring technology education in public schools and sparking innovation through entrepreneurial competitions.

The campaign is led by the Young Entrepreneur Council. The YEC has formed a coalition of partners to tackle youth unemployment, including Codecademy, MassChallenge, Venture for America and more.

#FixYoungAmerica is asking supporters to help fund the movement via a crowdfunding effort on IndieGoGo, a popular startup-funding platform. But according to YEC founder Scott Gerber, the campaign doesn’t want to try to solve youth employment by throwing money at the problem. Instead, it’s looking for “actual solutions” and to serve as the “beginning of a conversation” about the economic conditions facing American youth — and how to fix them.

A media campaign launching this week alongside events in 10 cities will spread the word about the campaign’s mission. For social outreach, #FixYoungAmerica asks supporters to “pass the baby” — an image of a tool-belt-carrying toddler meant to represent the idea of fixing the nation’s youth.


The #FixYoungAmerica book releases in May — just in time for graduation. But if you’re interested in hearing more about the tech-related ideas in the book right now, you’re in luck — Mashable interviewed several brilliant contributors, and we’ll be sharing their ideas and inspiration once a week for the next several weeks.

Stay tuned for the first full installment of Mashable’s #FixYoungAmerica coverage next week.

More About: entrepreneur, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, fixyoungamerica

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