Twenty-eight Vermonters gathered for six days to explore ideation, design thinking, the Business Model Canvas, financials and much more. With curiosity and focus, each participant discovered the strengths they bring to a team, networked with their peers, and even took time out for a round of (mini) golf.
What sounds like a motivational retreat for C-suite executives is actually a segment of The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont (GIV), a program focused on creating fun, accelerated learning residencies on college campuses for teenagers and high schoolers from all over the state.
The Entrepreneurship: Creativity & Innovation Institute, one of GIV’s nine unique areas of interest, took place from June 26 through July 1, 2022 at Vermont Technical College in Randolph. For the eighth year, a comprehensive hands-on curriculum was designed and facilitated by Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC) Advisor/Student Entrepreneurship Specialist Laurel Butler and VtSBDC Consultant and CVU faculty member Tamie-Jo Dickinson.
The two educators, along with four GIV-graduate resident assistants, led the rising 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students through a deep dive into the creativity and innovation that goes into developing new products and services. With the guidance of proven entrepreneurs and experts, plus a network of peers, they were encouraged to think about how to leverage their own unique business ideas to propel them to future success.
Ten of the students opted to receive the available three college credits using one of their state (free) dual enrollment vouchers. Committed to making the program accessible, GIV provided help with transportation and finances, offering tuition on a sliding scale based on family income. Some students attended for as little as $10.
On the first full day of the Entrepreneurship Institute, the students had an opportunity to bond with their teams over a round of mini golf organized by Peter Miller, the founder/owner of Mini Golf on the Go. A GIV- entrepreneurial graduate himself, Peter launched Mini Golf On The Go as a 20-year-old student entrepreneur. With guidance from his VtSBDC advisor, Peter turned his passion for building and working with wood into a unique, thriving business.
Peter’s experience is just one example of the potential impact of GIV and entrepreneurship education. This year’s GIV students were already feeling inspired and motivated by the program from day one.
“I want to learn how small businesses start-up and expand. I am especially interested in financial advising and all aspects of business.”
“My sister attended the program and she loved it. I am already learning a lot, and this is fueling my interest in entrepreneurship.”
“I plan to open my own restaurant. I have been baking since 4th grade, and I am known among my friends and family for my puff pastries, eclairs, and decorated cakes. I can’t wait to get started!”
“I don’t plan to open my own business, but I want to take part in the creativity and innovation. I love the challenge and I am always seeking new opportunities.”
“I came here to get clarity, try something new, and to learn about something I did not know about before,”
“I have so many great ideas, but I don’t know yet how to apply them. I am looking for different ways to approach business so I can bring my ideas to life and accomplish them.”
“I love to create, design, and build. I plan to apply my GIV knowledge to building and construction.”
-Beckett, Middlebury student of architecture and GIV graduate working as an RA this summer
“I am here to get ideas on how to run a marketing business. I have already started my business by doing Tik Tok ad campaigns for several big companies.”
“My passion is real estate. I plan to have my own Realtor business. My whole family works for themselves, and after an internship with a real estate broker in Lamoille, I became fascinated with the industry.”
“I have always liked learning about business. My goal is to graduate from Paul Smith’s College in NY and to become a food scientist. I know that I will use entrepreneurial skills in the workforce.”
“Working with these outstanding students, and facilitating entrepreneurship education is both exciting and rewarding,” Butler explained. “The GIV program continues to improve and evolve in response to the changing needs of our students and Vermont’s economy. We are opening the pathways to thinking creatively and no matter where each person’s career takes them, the entrepreneurial process and mindset crosses all disciplines – and helps individuals either be more successful in creating their own venture or being a more focused and knowledgeable employee.”
“We are invigorated by awakening the entrepreneurial spirit,” added Dickinson. “GIV takes students through the entrepreneurial process, idea generation, imagination, design, pitching, execution and adaptation – using problem solving, leadership, teamwork/collaboration, communication skills and abilities in an ever-changing environment to find solutions; all areas considered to be imperative in the workplace.”
VtSBDC State Director, Linda Rossi, added: “As part of our mission, VtSBDC collaborates in the creation of a pipeline of future entrepreneurs and/or workforce leaders, and the continuation of seamless statewide educational opportunities. These goals are essential to Vermont’s economy, beginning with our youngest generations, and continuing through all stages of entrepreneurship.”
A resounding testimonial at the close of this year’s GIV brings home the impact and long-term benefits of the entrepreneurship program:
“Hi, Laurel. Thank you so much for your help in the GIV entrepreneurship program! It was so nice hearing about your experiences, and I think you are such an awesome person. Although getting dual enrollment was a lot of work, I really appreciate you sticking with me to get it, and I’m super excited to continue working on an individual business idea for it in the program!”
VtSBDC and partner organizations host statewide student and teacher entrepreneurship programs throughout the year including teacher trainings and programs within schools and annual entrepreneurship events such as Entrepreneurship Day in February in Montpelier (or virtually) for high school/career technical center students, and the annual business model canvas plan and pitch competitions.
Interested in learning more about GIV? Visit https://giv.org.
Interested in learning more about VtSBDC’s youth entrepreneur initiatives? Visit https://www.vtsbdc.org/specialty-services/youth-entrepreneurship/ or contact Laurel Butler, VtSBDC Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.