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