Prepping for Entrepreneurship: Camp $tart Up at Paul Smith’s College

Paul Smith's College students


On Friday, June 29 2012, Director Melinda Little, three staff counselors, and twelve campers finished off the first week of Camp $tart-Up at Paul Smith’s College.  The camp focused on preparing adolescents with important business skills necessary to “start-up” their own company.  Funding was not offered for their plans to be implemented, but campers were able to obtain new knowledge about real life scenarios of beginning their own company or budgeting for future endeavors.  The campers ranged in age from 15 to 18 years old.  Seven were residents from within the Adirondack Park and others came from California, Montreal, and New Jersey.

Little gave a welcoming announcement.  She said, “It’s been a very full week and exciting to watch these teen entrepreneurs develop important skills in planning for the future.”  For seven days, campers participated in interactive sessions to learn about business by experiencing it first hand.  These sessions included lessons on sales, business finance, operations and marketing, both in the classroom and by meeting with local entrepreneurs who shared their trials and successes. They also went on field trips to local businesses within the Park such as the Wild Center, Sun Feather Soap Company, and The Community Store.   Campers even had the opportunity to meet with a successful Camp $tart-Up alum who has started her own light disposal business in California.

Cutie-PiesEnthusiastic to present, the first group of four young entrepreneurs walked to the podium.  Their business was called “Cutie Pies” and with laughs from the audience we were intrigued to know more.  The plan was to execute in Boston, selling fast fresh pies to their target audience of college students and families within the city.  They described how they stood out from their competitors because their ingredients would be derived locally and would help stimulate the local economy.   After conducting a survey, the team settled on pricing their pies for six dollars each.  Featured pies of the evening included a Thai Pie, a Pepperoni Pizza Pie, a Breakfast Pie, and an Apple Pie.  “From savory to sweet, an entire family could come in and get dinner and dessert,” Pinky Brandeau said, “And with our punch card incentive, the tenth one would be free!” Operations focused on location, rent affordability, hiring staff, and guaranteeing quality control.  Anuj Prajapati , Saranac Lake native spoke of the additional costs of whisks, bowls and a credit card machine.  He added, “Cutie Pies will depend on bootstrapping, you know, creatively thinking to save as much money as we can in the long run.”

The next featured business plan was called “Enterteenment,” an ad agency run by teens for teens and children.  Sarah, student from Saranac Lake and President of Enterteenment explained, “Kids that are exposed to high quality entertainment become better people.” The main goal of the company is to generate awareness of high quality, teen oriented products to people within the community.  The four team members had diverse interests, therefore convincing the audience that their innovative selling tactics would extend the interests of their target audiences.  Matthew Berning, said, “These days, bumper stickers aren’t just for cars anymore.  Our generation puts them on laptops, our iPods, school notebooks, and cellphones. It’s just another way to get messages across.”  In addition to bumper stickers, Enterteenment will use billboards, the Internet, magazines, posters and even YouTube to offer teens prizes as incentives for other teen involvement as a means to help advertise.   Their ad agency would be based out of Los Angeles, California, as there are currently no ad agencies like it within the region.  Their team would include an analyst, two designers, two salespeople, and one webpage designer.  “Designing the website would be the highest cost associated with start up,” financial analyst Jesse Thibodeau said while speaking of pricing and profitability.  Finally it was noted that for each of them to feel successful, they would have to ensure the highest standard of quality and customer satisfaction.

The final presentation of the evening was the business plan for “Dipped! Inc.,” a fondue arrangement company to be located in Boston, MA.   What makes this business different from Edible Arrangements, Vice President Jenny Scherl told the audience was, “that their business would be extremely eco conscience.”  The Dippers, the solids of fruits and vegetables, would be coming from local farms within Massachusetts.   The Dips, such as chocolates and cheeses, would also be made with the environment in mind.  “Incorporated implies share buying,” Carter Timon explained, “So basically the local community has a say in how the business operates.” Their start up cost would be $75,000 but, because of personal contributions, the team is asking for $25,000 from investors to begin.  Eventually, they want to expand to other communities but feel they will be more successful by starting the business in a city.

After an awards ceremony, Melinda Little said, “This is the first of several summers of Camp $tart-Up at Paul Smith’s.  I am pleased with the way the week ended. Eventually I would like the focus to be more on the economy and entrepreneurial opportunities within the Adirondack Park.”  Sophie, whose older sister had previously participated in the camp said, “I learned so much about investing, budgeting, and market research in the past week that I feel prepared to help start a business.”  Melinda will be hosting another session of Camp $tart-Up beginning July 23rd in Wilbraham, MA.   Mother of Adirondack native, Carter Timon, said, “This camp is a great way to prepare high school students for the future, whether it’s college, or a job, with the skills necessary to excel.”   The campers, parents of teenagers, and the camp staff were all extremely grateful to the Adirondack Community Trust, and other donors to help make their experience worthwhile.