Future Entrepreneurs

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Ambitious women often start out as ambitious girls.

If you show these girls examples of what careers and successes real women can achieve and honestly share what it takes, then their dream of what they can achieve can become bigger and they can start mapping out their path with confidence. Or, in the words of Lupita Nyong’O with the heavy golden Oscar statue for her role in Twelve Years a Slave in her hands: “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.”

That, in essence, was the motivation behind a new summer program organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum NYC (where I moonlight as Observer of the Board and creator and moderator of The Future of X Think Tank Series).

A week of entrepreneurship for high school girls — for future entrepreneurs. Everyone came together at Rockefeller Center, on the 36th floor with views of the Empire State Building (thanks to Lori Hoberman at Chadbourne & Parke for the invitation). It was a sweet mix of doing and learning.

Every day, the girls worked in groups on their own impromptu entrepreneurial projects and toward a final presentation to a jury. The business ideas these bright young ladies dreamed up and developed included a dress shoe with an adjustable heel from high to flat, a green gym that would use the kinetic energy generated by cardio equipment, a restaurant and workshop concept that would combine lunch and learning, and a tech truck that would rent out tablets, laptops and other devices around schools.

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Each day, entrepreneurs shared their stories. Among them were Ouidad of Ouidad Curly Hair Products, Sarah LaFleur of M.M. LaFleur, Tammy Tibbetts of She’s The First, Nikki Robinson of Gloss and Glam, Stephanie Cion from Wellalarm, and me, Katja Bartholmess of gimmegorgeous.com.

Everyone talked about starting out without a map and highlighted the importance of networking and having people that support you and your goals. Everyone agreed that the road to entrepreneurial success is a winding one that you need to have the stomach for. But one very worth taking.

We targeted junior girls in public high schools all over New York City and roughly 50 students applied. Students were required to be interested in business or any STEM fields and perform in the top quartile of their class. Students were selected from the following high schools: University Neighborhood High School, Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies, School for International Studies, High School of Computers and Technology, and Manhattan Academy for Arts and Languages.
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 We all saw ourselves in these girls and tried to tell them what we hoped we had been told about being an entrepreneur and creating your own path at that age. That week was a passion project for everyone involved.

At least it was so for me. A true passion project.

What about you? Do you have a passion project? Would love to hear about it.

– Katja Bartholmess. Founder of gimmegorgeous.com. “It’s my passion to inspire and motivate other ambitious women with my stories and experiences from over a decade of entrepreneurship.”

4 thoughts on “Future Entrepreneurs

  1. This is a great project, and I wish all participants that they will go out there and change the(ir) world! ❤ I just love the idea of a green gym!!
    You asked for passion projects. My passion project is to learn a new language: visual language! As a translator and copywriter I deal with tons of words every day. Visual language (in my case photography) is a completely new thing for me. It's great when you learn the grammar (technique) and start expressing yourself in a new language. The best thing about this passion project is that I learn a LOT about myself. I see in my pictures who I am and what I care about. It's pretty amazing! 😀

    I hope to read more about passion projects in the future. It seems to be a trend… 😉
    Best, Ruth

    • Let’s say, I have started to write simple poems. I still have to learn a lot about technical issues, but I’m getting there! Once you understand the trio aperture/ISO/exposure you can start to express yourself because you know what to do to “say” something. I want to make good pictures consciously, so I need to know what I’m doing. Style comes second, it’s a little like handwriting. First you write anything, then you start to choose what to say and what to leave out. It’s becomes your way of expression. I think at this point I’m starting to develop a handwriting that you actually recognise. Yay!! 😀
      Plus: I have developed a fairy tale character called Faceless. It’s a lady with a red hat. I use it in order to experiment with my new language. People recognise my handwriting because of this character, too. It’s funny! I share some of the pictures on my blog, and people are actually asking “What is Faceless doing these days” when I don’t post pictures. Faceless has become my photographic poem. Maybe. 😉

  2. Pingback: Leadership, Stylish. Interview with Darshana Zaveri | Gimme Gorgeous

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