For ten years the Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy (TESA) has given high school students the tools and knowledge to start their own business through a weeklong crash course in entrepreneurship. During the five-day program, students work with college faculty and current GVSU students to solve a real-world problem through entrepreneurship. The program provides students with fundamental business concepts and essential entrepreneurship skills through hands-on, creative workshops. On the last day, the teams present their five-minute business idea pitch to a panel of judges from the local community for cash prizes. During the first week of August, GVSU expanded the impact of TESA by taking the program to Detroit for the first time. TESA Detroit was made possible through sponsorship from The Skillman Foundation, Beaumont, Ernst & Young, 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, Inc., and the Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office.
31 high school students from 10 different Detroit area schools authorized by GVSU’s Charter Schools Office participated in TESA. Students were divided into seven teams and worked towards developing a business solution for issues that plague our healthcare system. We kicked the week off with a field trip to Beaumont Health System, where the students had the opportunity to listen to a diverse panel of healthcare experts. The panel was followed by a tour of the Beaumont Royal Oak campus and a patient simulation workshop. An intensive poverty simulation conducted by Access West Michigan, which introduced the students to the limitations many Americans face in accessing health care, followed the trip to Beaumont. Later in the week, students toured Eastern Market and took part in a scavenger hunt in downtown Detroit with the Detroit Experience Factory.
Guest speakers throughout the week include William K. Middlebrooks from 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, James Chapman of Rock Ventures, and Michael L. Dixon of Beaumont Hospital.
Students spent the week under the instruction of Peg Shoenborn and Dr. Tim Syfert. Shoenborn and Dr. Syfert guided them through ideation, prototyping, planning and market research, and management and operations. Students were also given the opportunity to work with improvisation expert Amy Gascon from Dog Story Theater to improve their stage presence and team building skills.
At the end of the week, the student teams pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges composed of Jeanette A. Bowles from Ernst & Young, Michael L. Dixon of Beaumont Hospital, Mary Kramer of Crain’s Detroit Business, Aaron B. Lewis of Keller Williams, William E. Luse of 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit, Andrea L. Wallace of DTE Energy and Timothy H. Wood, Ph.D, of the GVSU Charter Schools Office.
Imani Ahmad (Canton Preparatory High School), Camille Brown (Taylor Preparatory High School), Anthony Vickers (Taylor Prep) and Brenda Waites (Taylor Prep) took home first place and $2500 for Healthy Streets, their business that promotes healthy lifestyles by providing low-income communities with fresh produce and dietary education. Raphael Clements (Taylor Prep), Chloe Davis (Henry Ford Academy), Janhvi Vyas (Taylor Prep), Bernard Muhammad (Michigan Virtual Charter School) and Marcus Woodford (University Preparatory Math and Science Academy) were awarded second place and $1500 for Uber Med Red Care Services, which provides transport to and from doctor appointments for homebound families. Third place and $1,000 was awarded to Madison Foster (Jalen Rose Academy), Nisha Krishnan (Grand Blanc High School), James Pope (Taylor Prep) and Terrell White (Cornerstone Health and Technology High School) for Medic-Go, a diagnostic medical kiosk system aimed at reducing unnecessary emergency room traffic.
The TESA staff chose to recognize Justin Wilton (Michigan Math and Science Academy) with Most Valuable Entrepreneur of the Week Award for his exemplary attitude, curiosity and curtsey throughout the week. Runner up was Nisha Krishnan for her consistent demonstration of patience and teamwork.
Here is what some of the students had to say about their experience at TESA:
“At TESA this week, I learned a lot about how to be independent and run my own business in the most effective and efficient way. I learned that my career starts now, and I should start working towards it as soon as I can. One of the key speakers mentioned that we should wake up every day with a purpose. This camp helped give me a sense of what I want to do with my life and how I would go about executing my goals.”
“My experience at TESA has been eye opening. I say this because before the program, I did not realize the complexity of starting a business or presenting an idea. I’ve learned to appreciate all business owners and entrepreneurs through the program. TESA has taught me how to GRIND!”