Aspiring Upper School Entrepreneurs Enjoy the Challenge of a New Elective Course

This fall, seniors are enjoying the challenge of developing business plans as part of a new elective course, Entrepreneurship, taught by Upper School History Teacher Cathy Leitch. “This course complements the interest MICDS students have displayed over the years in business, finance, and economics. The process of designing a business from scratch is a great creative exercise,” explains Ms. Leitch.

The course began with an overview of the history of American entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship and explored the role and impact of creative destruction in the United States economy. Currently, students are developing detailed business plans appropriate for a small business start-up. As part of their plan, they must create new products or services, develop competitive strategies, design marketing strategies for their business and finally, present their plan to the class. Through the process of developing and presenting their original business plans, students are honing critical professional skills, including creative problem-solving, public speaking and presentation skills, project management and collaborative leadership.

Steve Hughes ’84 and Spencer Toder ’04 have visited the class to share their expertise and insight. Hughes is founder and President of Hit Your Stride, LLC, who states that his mission is “to help people look and sound smart when they talk.” Toder is a broker in the Corporate and Investment Services division of Colliers International St. Louis who was recently honored by the St. Louis Business Journal as a “Top 30 Under 30” business leader.

Students enjoyed a field trip to the 2015 TrepStart Day at Saint Louis University on October 5. The event, sponsored by Independent Youth, offered teens opportunities for peer-to-peer exploration of entrepreneurial thinking, and achievement know-how, experiential education and interactive breakout sessions with successful teen entrepreneurs, known as “treps.”

Sponsored by Independent Youth, also included a panel discussion, time for networking, and a keynote address by Starbucks Co-Founder Gerald Baldwin. Teen entrepreneur presenters included Ryan Kelly of Ry’s Rufery, Lily Born of Imagiroo, Zach Certner of SNAP and many others. Breakout session topics included “The Invention Process and Prototyping,” “Product Development and Business Expansion,” “The Power of the Internet in Business,” and more.

“I found today’s field trip very interesting. It was incredible to see such young entrepreneurs that have the work ethic to be successful,” said Paige Glover ’16. “They understand what it takes to be in the business world so when they grow up their knowledge will go greater than it is now. Their understanding that there is room for failure is a good mindset to have at that age. Most younger business men/women think that their business has to be perfect with no flaws. This simply cannot happen without failure to allow one to learn and move forward making their product or service better.”

Mitzi Harris ’16 added, “It was really interesting to hear Lily Born [Imagiroo] talk about the different qualifications for selling her products in Walmart, such as the deadlines, requirements, no-no’s in their products, etc. This was a fun day!”