I was very fortunate to discover program Entrum in Estonia, which teaches highschool kids how to start a business, at autumn of 2013. I immediately liked the concept and wondered why I did not know about it before even though it having its 4th season by then.
Program itself is very clever. Gather a bunch of high-school students match them with experienced business people as mentors and push them into learning about making business. I took part of this competition as business mentor and found following surprising or interesting points.
Firstly young people are incredibly talented but they lack a lot of experience. Out of 600 students is possible to find any talent imagined: sports, singing, dancing, thinking, speaking, presenting etc etc.
I found it very big contrast when I come from professional IT and business background and see how kids try to make business without knowing anything that I take for granted. When we talk about IT start-up then often students have learned programming at school but it is quite amateur level. They have hard time understanding code versioning(git), IDE-s, testing/QA nor other advanced professional concepts.
However biggest challenge is organizing, focusing and getting stuff done. Students are loaded with school tasks and homework, setting priorities and actually working takes a lot of effort.
I spent a lot of time at first with my team to help them understand what they want. We talked about big dreams, what others like them have done and that they can do it also. Once they told their dreams and started believing into them it was time to start working. It was hard at first, there was no roles not good plan. Fortunately team was quite big and each was able to choose its role, either sales, development, design or organizing. By now the team is almost getting used to setting weekly goals and having regular planning meetings however there is still room for improvement.
Despite all of these challenges I am very happy to see real results from the start. Boys are doing android app “Math helper” and MVP was uploaded within a few days of Entrum starting. By then there has been steady increase of downloads. Progress was bit slower during Christmas holidays but now in January the pace has gone up again and I am seeing serious work being done. It looks like from now on there will be major upgrade coming out every week.
As a conclusion I must say that every school kid must practice making business with experienced business mentor at young age to get onto fast track of life. It avoids learning too much from own mistakes or even quitting. Entrum is currently happening in each school once every 4 years and unfortunately it accepts only 600 students each year. I sincerely hope that the number of students participating it will go up very soon and the program quality will not go down.
Thanks to Darja Saar and the Entrum team for keeping up the good work!