The GVSU Teen Entrepreneur Summer Academy (TESA) is a week-long summer program for high school students that focuses on cultivating interest in entrepreneurship and provides students with the knowledge and tools for starting their own businesses. TESA is an exceptional opportunity for high school students to interact and learn on a college campus. During the five day program, students work with college faculty and current GVSU students to solve real-world problems 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 a five-minute business idea pitch to a panel of judges from the local community for cash prizes.
The 2018 TESA program saw 46 students from different high schools across the state of Michigan. Sponsors included Start Garden, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, the Seidman College of Business, and the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Together they provided cash and prizes for the student entrepreneurs that totaled over $5,000. Each year, TESA features a theme for the students to focus their ideas toward. This year’s theme was smart cities. To assist students in understanding the challenges and opportunities associated with developing a smart city, we kicked off the week by having students listen to a dynamic panel of Grand Rapids area professionals as they discussed issues and opportunities surrounding the concept of forming Grand Rapids into a smart city. We followed this panel with taking a field trip to Consumers Energy to learn about the energy-efficient technological advances happening around and near downtown Grand Rapids. During the middle of the week, the students took a trip Spectrum Health Innovations and then to Start Garden to present their group business ideas to a panel of local entrepreneurs. Later in the week, the students split off into their teams and explored downtown Grand Rapids to search for potential locations to establish their projects and gain more knowledge of the area. Throughout the week, students were under the instruction of Dr. Tim Syfert, Matt Larson, and Jon Moroney. These instructors guided them through ideation, prototyping, planning and market research, and management and operations.
At the end of the week, the student teams pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges made up of Matt Gira, Co-Founder at Fathom; Lori Henry, Project Manager at Spectrum Health Innovations; Attah Obande, Director of Dream Fulfillment at SpringGR; Tyler Petersen, Small Business Lender for Opportunity Resource Fund, and Rachel Scott, Director of Development Services at Rockford Construction. McKinley Lowery III, Kiara Peterman, Davis Ross, Nanda Murali, and Zacchaeus Palmer-Richardson took home first prize and $2,500 for SmartView, an interactive, augmented reality phone application that would show the greater Grand Rapids area, in the past, present, and future. Andre Davis Jr., Jada Pettis, Tanvi Ravi, Paul Gross, Shaunyla Hill, and Damon Arnold received second place and $1,500 for the Smart Teen Bonding Center, a smart technology center located downtown Grand Rapids to help connect teens through the implementation of technology. Jorden Smiley, Stasha McDaniel, Catherine Lindgren, Aaron Ross, and Owen Atkins received third place and $1,000 for The Smart Panels – sound absorbing panels with LED displays on the outside used for billboards, signs, and logos, to help reduce sound pollution in the greater Grand Rapids area.
2018 Students’ Testimonials:
“I had a great time learning new things, meeting new people, and expanding my knowledge of entrepreneurship.”
“TESA is really overall a great experience and a really great opportunity to learn from your peers and all of the great speakers. I really liked the activities we did and learned a numerous amount of new things.”
“The program was great. It’s fun to be around creative, bright people. Our ideas have the potential to change our world forever.”
“TESA is a fun place to share your ideas with others, and have some fun while doing it. You meet some new friends and have lots of fun.”
“TESA is a very interesting and informative experience that I believe is good for teenagers that aspire to produce their own business as an entrepreneur.”