What do teens know about starting a business?

Turns out they know a lot more than you think.  I had the honor or facilitating the Black Enterprise Teenpreneur Conference, sponsored by Wendy’s, for the 3rd time last week and it was truly remarkable.  With over 80students attending the conference, we had the opportunity to educate, empower and encourage our youth to dream beyond the usually 9-5 and become their own boss.

I was surrounded by an amazing team; I’na Saulsberry (The Starfire Group), Kevin Johnson (Johnson Media, Inc), Brandon Griffin (FYEBYE, Inc) and our program director Malla Haridat (New Designs for Life) each with a passion to teach our youth about business ownership. And I could not forget the fabulous Black Enterprise team, especially Natasha Gore and LaToya Smith.

The conference started with guest speaker Kenyra Rankin, author of “Start it Up: The Complete Teen Business Guide to Turning Your Passions into Pay”. She led an activity to help the attendees brainstorm businesses that capitalize on their unique strengths.

Our next guest speaker was, Quintin Primo, owner of Capri Capital Partners, LLC. Mr. Primo shared his life story and encouraged our students to never give up on their dreams. Mr. Primo appeared on the Forbes Wealthiest Black Americans list with an estimated net worth of $300 million.

The day ended with the students exploring the Wendy’s brand and developing a new product for the company.

Day 2 of the Teenpreneur Conference was jam packed with guest speakersand interactive activities. Students were honored to hear from Dawn Finch, owner of Pooka Pure & Simple, sharing how she made the cover of Black Enterprise and how she uses social media to promote her brand. Her session was so great that I am now a Pooka fan!

We also heard from Sree Sreenivisan, Social Media guru and Dean of Student Affairs at Columbia University. The students we so engaged with the learning how social media can affect their ability to get ahead in the future. His session was so great that I took a few notes for myself. (smile)

After an afternoon session of business development activities, students heard from the team of Starting Up Now.  They facilitated a fun sales activity for students to understand the importance of identifying features and benefits when selling products.

Last but not least we had the honor of hearing from Derek Dingle, Editor and Chief of Black Enterprise and owner of Milestone Media. The students were excited to learn that Mr. Dingle was responsible for the creation of Static Shock animated series. I had no idea we had a series of Black superheroes.

Students had the opportunity to present their business ideas to thegroup. My team created Teen Perspective, a news program focused on issues that teens were interested in hearing.
And after all the guest speakers, activities and business presentations the conference ended with a fabulous graduation. It was a great experience and I look forward to seeing everyone again in Columbus, OH for next year’s Black Enterprise Teenpreneur Conference.

Make sure to visit http://www.BlackEnterprise.com for more updates on next year’s conference.