KNOXVILLE— Nine high school students from East Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia will arrive at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on Sunday to begin an intense week of entrepreneurial skill building at the Second Annual UT Empowered Teen Entrepreneurship Residential Camp.
All attendees were self-nominated because of their interests in becoming value-creating entrepreneurs.
“The camp is rigorous, duplicating the challenges of starting a business,” said Tom Graves, operations director for the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “But, by the end of the week, the students will take pride in the skills they’ve learned and what they’ve accomplished.”
The curriculum includes teaching materials from the Anderson Center and Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, coupled with mentoring from entrepreneur volunteers and on-site visits. During the week-long camp, students will identify and evaluate a potential business opportunity, determine and validate a target market and develop a business plan. They will use a Junior Achievement-developed, computer-based business simulation to explore relationships between price, production, marketing, research and development, and capital investment.
“As the students build a business plan around an idea about which they are passionate, they will be able to analyze their own strengths and weaknesses and create a successful team,” Graves said.
During the week, the students will work one-on-one with mentors and observe entrepreneurs in action with on-site visits to Proton Power, Wampler’s Sausage and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.
The camp culminates with each student team presenting its business plan to a panel of judges. Each presentation will be accompanied by a video commercial, an advertising poster and business cards. The top three teams will compete for cash awards of $300, $200, and $100 respectively.
“Learning to do an ‘elevator pitch’ about their capabilities and their business’ potential, and to stand and deliver a 10-minute presentation before a panel of entrepreneurs for cash prizes, is a tremendous confidence builder for these students,” said Donna Walker, founder of Walker Consulting and one of the camp sponsors.
“These young men and women will leave the camp with the confidence that they can control their own destiny and positively contribute to society by becoming successful entrepreneurs,” Graves said. “When that happens, we’ve achieved our goals.”
The camp is presented by the UT Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Junior Achievement of East Tennessee, Walker Consulting and Entrepreneurs of Knoxville.
“The generous support from our various sponsors allows us to provide funding for the week’s activities, scholarships for some of the participants, and lets the camp offer students a professional experience,” Graves said.
Sponsors include PetSafe Corp. Philanthropy Committee; McDonald’s franchisee Joe Burger; Wes Stowers of Stower’s Machinery; Tom and Florence Graves; Leo Knight, owner of Neighborhood Nerds; TN Technology Development Corporation; Chris Coyne, founder of Modeof8; Wampler’s Sausage; Stephen Adams of LuedekaNeely; and Sam Weaver, founder of Proton Power.