Why do we teach entrepreneurship?

When Buffalo Grove student Nicole Relias needed inspiration for a business idea in her entrepreneurship class, she turned to a problem her dog had experienced – being skunked. 

With the help of Buffalo Grove and District 214’s innovative entrepreneurship curriculum, the Buffalo Grove student and her classmates invented Skunk Aid, a kit to de-skunk dogs.

The District’s entrepreneurship program, launched in 2014, engages students in every aspect of building a business – from identifying and solving a problem to creating a business model and testing their product in the real world.

Coaches and mentors, who are often entrepreneurs rooted in the community, help along the way by co-teaching alongside District 214 teachers to bring increased relevancy into the classroom.

“The way we teach entrepreneurship is helping students because it gives them real-life skills that a textbook, in my opinion, can’t give,” said Karen Roberts, a Buffalo Grove entrepreneurship teacher. “The skills they gain here are applicable to what they would encounter in the outside world as an entrepreneur.

Unlike other entrepreneurship curriculum that focuses on small business management, District 214’s program looks at hollistically planning a business before students spend funds, resources and time on their product.

District 214 entrepreneurship educators, including Buffalo Grove’s Karen Roberts, Elk Grove’s Chad Froeschle, Hersey’s Dan Vesper, Prospect’s Lance Burmeister, Rolling Meadows’ Amy Vannatta and Wheeling’s John Kritek, use the Business Model Canvas curriculum to leads students from ideation to testing the market to financial viability and evaluating what the competition isn’t offering, all in the first semester. By the start of the second semester, students have developed a prototype of their product to further help them test their hypothesis.

In the following months, students develop a business format and structure around their original idea and prepare for the Startup Showcase, a Shark Tank-like competition that features some of the sharpest entrepreneurship students from District 214 schools pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. Winners are awarded funds from the District 214 Education Foundation.

In past years, winners of the Startup Showcase have invented an app called Udar that lets users across the world create stories together, a clip called Hoodie Hoop to reattach drawstring and cords to clothing and bags and innovative weight collars called SnapClips to help gym-goers secure free weights.

Hear from a Hersey student on how the entrepreneurship class has helped him.