By all accounts, 2020 was a year of seismic changes to nearly every aspect of life around the globe. Students of all ages were forced to grapple with an entirely new way of learning, and the full impact of the 2020-2021 school year has yet to be measured. For high schoolers, distance or hybrid learning has impacted more than your studies: you may have had to work harder and get more creative as you prepare for college and scholarship applications.
No one could have predicted the unique problems which suddenly arose with a global pandemic. But the following young entrepreneurs were able to quickly find creative solutions.
Young Entrepreneurs Saw Opportunity
As the world locked down and in-person socialization was kept to a minimum, some young entrepreneurs set to work creating new ways for communities to come together. A high school senior in Montana created a drive-in theater on his family’s pasture. Already enrolled in entrepreneurship classes, Porter Blanchard developed a business plan and applied for a loan. Within weeks he had earned the loan money back and then some.
This young entrepreneur saw a need in his community: getting out of the house and socializing. He saw an opportunity: his family owns a pasture big enough to show movies where people can park their cars. He utilized skills he already had, including entrepreneurship and accounting. Finally, he built a team that could help him: his family. The result of his hard work and creativity helped boost morale in his town as well as his family’s finances.
Mr. Blanchard’s drive-in pasture theater perfectly illustrates one of the basic guidelines of entrepreneurship: create solutions to existing problems.
Young Entrepreneurs Created Tech Solutions
By mid-March, the entire world came to rely on technology more than ever, from reliable WiFi connections to long-distance teamwork. In this world, connectivity became more important than ever. Young entrepreneurs were more than up to the new problems facing individuals and families stuck at home while working and studying online.
The University of Michigan stepped up to the challenge by offering a spring/summer course called Software Against COVID-19. Some of the creative solutions students came up with include a Google Chrome extension that allows gamers in dangerous home situations to anonymously ask for help and an app that monitors occupancy so businesses can comply with capacity rules.
This technology has been specifically designed to address real-world problems that arose during the lockdown. As the world adjusted to a new normal with no end in sight, it was young entrepreneurs who used their engineering skills and technological know-how to help their communities power through.
Young Entrepreneurs Kept Each Other Going
Without in-person conferences, showcases, and events for young entrepreneurs to network and show-off, three teens in Australia found a way to keep student-run business moving forward. Specifically, Audrey Hillard, Kate Henry, and Meg Harrison invented the Envision Marketplace, sort of an Etsy for students. Their enterprise was to centralize other students’ enterprises so everyone could continue to stay in business during the lockdown.
When Mss. Hillard, Henry, and Harrison were faced with an unprecedented problem, they took on the challenge and came up with an innovative solution.
Similarly, California teens Sarah Shapiro and Skye Loventhal created the Covid NineTEEN Project to provide online tutoring to elementary school students as well as activities to keep them motivated.
Even amid a worldwide crisis, young people reached out to one another to offer help, support, and community in new and innovative ways.
Young Entrepreneurs Worked on Virus Treatments
Over in Texas, 14-year old Anika Chebrolu won $25,000 in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work in pushing forward a cure for the Covid-19 virus. Her project didn’t come out of nowhere; she had already been studying ways of containing the flu virus. When the current pandemic hit, she switched her focus from the flu to Covid.
Young entrepreneurs aren’t always about business or finance. Sometimes work in other fields – like biotechnology – can boost bright young people to the forefront of global innovation. Whatever field you are in could be the exact industry the world needs going forward. In fact, young entrepreneurs in other fields are uniquely suited to creating solutions to new problems because you aren’t in it for the money: you’re in it to use your skills and knowledge to innovate.
Young Entrepreneurs Pitched In
All of the sudden, everyone in the world needed masks. If you had searched Amazon or Google in March 2020, surgical-grade masks were nearly impossible to come by. Young entrepreneurs like Rachel Moody in Colorado stepped up to the challenge and got right to work. She took advantage of free online patters and YouTube videos, taught herself to sew, and started The Thread Club, which donates a mask to a local children’s hospital for each mask purchased.
In California, 15-year old Shaivi Shah and her friends put together sanitation kits for the local homeless population, including masks, hand sanitizer, soap, and lotion.
Another teen in Nova Scotia raised money through a virtual 50-km bike ride to help feed those in his community who had become food insecure during the pandemic.
Teens even volunteered for Covid-19 vaccine trials.
When the world cried out for help, young entrepreneurs were there for their communities.
The Kantner Foundation knows that the future of innovation lies with America’s youth. It will take months, perhaps years, for the world to fully adjust to the pandemic of 2020, and we are certain that you will be a big part of the new normal. We can’t wait to see what amazing new ways of working you come up with!
Will you be one of the next recipients of a Kantner Foundation college scholarship? If you are a Florida high school entrepreneur, click here to learn more!