UM-Flint SEI Camp Students Explore Entrepreneurship

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summer entrepreneurship institute

The Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at UM-Flint held its Summer Entrepreneurship Institute camp for the first time on July 12-14.

High school juniors and seniors spent three days learning about multiple aspects of entrepreneurship, business, and marketing. The camp aims to help high school students understand entrepreneurship and the excitement surrounding new ventures that can solve real problems.

Professor Amy Gresock, Assistant Professor in the School of Management, said she hopes to challenge the students to think about entrepreneurship in a multi-faceted way.

“Opportunities are everywhere. It wasn’t just sitting in a classroom with the students. We were in the Flint community. We were on campus, and we challenged them to look for opportunities,” said Gresock. “In some of the exercises we did, they came up with some really good ideas that played off of opportunities that they saw in the external environment. Their problems don’t have to be something really grandiose. It can just be solving a problem that they see in everyday life.”

Students spent time with School of Management Professors Amy Gresock and Greg Laurence inside the classroom and in the community working to develop their entrepreneurial venture. During day one, students toured the UM-Flint campus looking for opportunities and quickly found that Flint has a lot of prospects for entrepreneurs.

Sean Mason, a high school junior from Davison, said he appreciated the implementation of lessons learned during the Summer Entrepreneurship Institute.

“I liked that it was hands on. I didn’t know exactly what to expect coming into it but I liked that after we learned something, we got to try it out,” said Mason.

The camp aimed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking by engaging students with course materials, community experiences, and a field trip to Skypoint Ventures in downtown Flint on the second day of the camp.

Skypoint Ventures
Summer camp students tour Skypoint Ventures. Bryce Moe, Managing Director of Skypoint Ventures, shows students a portion of the Dryden building that is under renovations.

Interim Director of the Hagerman Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and camp organizer, Professor Brian Blume, said he believes the Summer Entrepreneurship Institute was an engaging experience for the high school students.

“The camp was effective in introducing students to entrepreneurship and helping to develop an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Blume. “We, also, were able to show students how downtown Flint is being transformed to support and encourage entrepreneurial ventures, as well as introduce the strong entrepreneurship program at the UM-Flint School of Management.”

On day three, the students wrapped up their work and learning by presenting their feasibility analysis projects to fellow students and their parents. Mason said he believes he gained a lot out of the camp experience.

Sean Mason asks a question during a Skype interview with Chris Trejbal.
Sean Mason asks a question during a Skype interview with Chris Trejbal.

“Before this camp I had a rudimentary understanding of business and certain opportunities. I learned about how to find your niche, how do you look at an opportunity and seize it, and use the correct branding and marketing to really succeed and advance your cause,” said Mason.

The School of Management will be hosting another summer camp next year for high schoolers. Blume said he hopes to see more student participants in the future. He also has a piece of advice for other young entrepreneurs who want to get started.

“I suggest exploring these entrepreneurial interests early on. I encourage you to become involved with a business venture or to start a business, even if it’s a part-time business. Also, be sure to watch the TV show Shark Tank.”

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