Encouraging Young Entrepreneurs
28 Dec 2018
Onward Yankton recently hosted its first ever regional entrepreneurship conference at Mount Marty College. “Lead. Serve. Impact. Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs” was a resounding success, according to chaperone Brady Muth and many of his students.
Muth teaches economics and entrepreneurship at Yankton High School. He is also on the Onward Yankton Education Committee, which organized the inaugural conference in October.
The event was free, thanks to a number of sponsorships and donations. It was geared toward cultivating creativity and entrepreneurship in high school and college students. A total of 450 students attended from 17 regional high schools and Mount Marty College.
An array of speakers shared their insights on creativity, leadership and innovation with the students. The event also included a women’s leadership panel as well as a meet and greet with area entrepreneurs.
Muth says what the students appreciated most was hearing stories from entrepreneurs in their own backyard. “Sometimes kids think everything is better outside of the Midwest. The speakers showed just how great things are right in our own backyard, the opportunities that are here,” he explains.
Brent Comstock, founder of the digital marketing company BCom Solutions, gave the keynote address. The Auburn, Nebraska native started his company at age 12. Comstock is now in his 20s. He’s not only found great success with his company, he’s choosing to give back and has become a thought leader in cultivating rural entrepreneurship.
From Comstock and others, students heard business success stories. Perhaps more importantly, they also learned about the possibility of making a larger social and economic impact on their communities through entrepreneurial thinking and leadership.
“It was a neat way to expose kids to real valuable life lessons. To hear success stories and teach them that it’s okay to take chances,” says Muth. “The speakers showed kids that it’s okay to write your own playbook. And that the reward can far outweigh that of following the status quo.”
The conference was inspirational not just for students but for teachers, according to Muth. It’s helping him and many of his colleagues be more mindful about their teaching, encouraging them to find ways to cultivate out-of-the-box thinking in the classroom.
The committee intends to organize another event next year, and hopefully expand and improve upon it in the future.
Muth believes the conference and ongoing encouragement from teachers can help to inspire students to achieve success far beyond obvious benchmarks like ACT scores and graduation rates. “Success is about finding what you’re passionate about. Being creative in what you’re doing every day. And finding something you want to make impact with,” he says.