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UMKC Innovation Center
By Sarah Mote
August 20, 2015

Business Experience beyond the Classroom

Spark! Incubator Program(Emily Young is pictured in the back row, in blue.)

Many students strive for straight As, but for some, like Emily Young of Chesterfield, she wasn’t gaining anything from that accomplishment.

“I was tired of traditional learning and wanted something unconventional.”

That’s when the Spark! Incubator Program sparked her interest. As part of the Parkway West High School curriculum, students are taught the skillsets necessary to develop their interests into a business. Through ideation, business development, proposals and implementation, the incubator program supports students and introduces opportunities to make their idea a reality.

Emily’s first business was a fashion and style advice website. Realizing she lacked the tech and industry knowledge to pursue it further, she got stalled. When a teacher pointed out her project management strengths, Emily’s direction shifted. She pitched herself as an independent consulting firm within the program and was soon helping others focus on marketing and productivity.

“I helped students find solutions to their issues and worked with faculty as a student liaison.”

That’s when real life hit.

“I offered to help and provide solutions, but my peers weren’t interested in taking advice from me. While I was attempting to help them, I failed to manage myself.”

In addition to the incubator, Emily had a part-time job, marching band, church, family and personal time to balance. “When my grades started slipping, I knew I was overextending myself.”

Through it all, she enjoyed pitching her concept at Washington University, visiting Venture Café, and the Independent Youth program.

“My greatest satisfaction was discovering I’m not too young to build a business! My scariest moments were not knowing what I was doing or failing to fulfill my promises. Every part of Spark! helped me build confidence.”

For anyone pursuing their business idea, Emily’s advice is to keep on learning. “Everyone has something to teach you. Ask questions and listen.”

Ready to Get Something Started?

MOSourceLink has a network of more than 400 Resource Partners--nonprofit organizations ready to help you start, grow and scale your business. Start with our Resource Navigator to find help near you. Still stumped? Give us a call and we'll connect you with the right resource, right now. 

Post provided by Kris Edens, a copywriting and blogging resource for small business. She resides in Festus and enjoys networking, writing and the entrepreneurial community.




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