The Boss Club Foundation is Teaching Young Texans About the Importance of Thinking — and Acting — Like an Entreprenuer
June 23, 2020
Aspiring CEO Coco took a giant step forward on her career path in 2019. She decided to start her own small business: Coco’s Canine Confections. That would be a bold move at any age. But it’s an especially impressive achievement for a middle schooler.
According to Coco, becoming a small business owner was more than a lesson in how to make money. Her experience producing, packaging, and selling gourmet dog treats also taught her “how to open up to the world and branch out.”
Coco is just one of 125 children who experienced the transformative power of entrepreneurial thinking last summer thanks to the Boss Club Foundation. Founded in 2018 by Charlie Gasmire and David Grubbs — who, between them, have launched over 20 businesses — the Foundation uses innovative programming to help Texans between the ages of 7 and 18 “learn and practice financial literacy, people skills and confidence, adaptability and grit, and stewardship through giving back.”
Gasmire and Grubbs first met in Waco in 2011 when Grubbs was teaching a class in entrepreneurship (“Accelerated Ventures”) at Baylor University. They quickly learned they had more in common than a passion for entrepreneurship. They discovered that, because of their own formative experiences, they both believed that students should be exposed to entrepreneurial concepts and competencies as early as possible.
So, in 2019, the Foundation convened its inaugural Summer Entrepreneurship Program. First, Coco and her fellow small business owners unboxed their very own business kit containing everything they needed to realize their vision. That included raw materials for dog treats, bath bombs, or cake pops, branding materials, and a step-by-step guidebook covering everything from naming a business to balancing its books.
Over the next three weeks, these kidpreneurs worked with each other, as well as mentors like Tami Nutall of Keller Williams Realty, on putting their newfound business savvy to work. Finally, they pitched their products to actual customers at The Waco Downtown Farmers Market.
At every step of the journey, the Boss Club Foundation made sure to recognize milestones and reward students for their successes. “While the profits the students made at the Farmers Market were incredible,” Gasmire says, “the program made deeper impacts, too. Like when students found the confidence to talk to customers after being so intimidated by public speaking, or when they learned they could bring an idea to life and see it grow into something special.”
Advocates of entrepreneurial education for children and young adults tout multiple benefits. Among them: instilling a strong work ethic, encouraging creative thinking, promoting the setting of goals, and acquiring a character trait their parents and grandparents might call “stick-to-itiveness.”
“Kids are notorious for starting something and then moving on without finishing it,” writes Samuel Edwards in an editorial for Entrepreneur Magazine. But, “in an entrepreneurial setting … goals are clear and courses of action are constantly being developed and pursued in order to reach those goals.”
Beyond reinforcing a child’s sense of purpose, entrepreneurial education can help buck an alarming trend. According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 55 percent of students in grades 5 through 8 have intentions of starting their own business. But that number drops to just 27 percent of those in grades 9 through 12. “The ongoing gap between the two student groups suggests that dreams of starting a business decline in high school for many students,” the report says.
The Boss Club Foundation is committed to closing that gap by giving young students the tools and experience they need not only to become their own boss but also to grow into community leaders. “Pursuing entrepreneurship even for a month can give students a boost of confidence and self-discipline that will enhance other areas of their lives,” Gasmire explains. “A pivotal moment in a student's life is when they receive the data point of seeing what kind of success and self-esteem can result from working hard and trying something new, and that’s something we want our program to give kids an opportunity to experience.”
Gasmire and Grubbs entered 2020 with goals of their own. One of them was to expand the opportunities the Foundation provides through the Summer Entrepreneurship Program. They’ve done just. Enrollment is up from just over 100 participants to nearly 900. Moreover, the Foundation has brought on more corporate sponsors, beefed up their curriculum, and branched out into a new market — Dallas.
“Dallas is such a unique city that includes both the headquarters of many top Fortune 500 companies as well as a vibrant entrepreneurial community that includes many angel networks, startup accelerators, and co-working spaces,” Gasmire says. “We’re also headquartered in Dallas, so we’re honored to have this chance to invest in the youth living and learning in our own backyard.”
Gasmire and Grubbs are also looking forward about what their 2020 Summer Entrepreneurship Program sponsors are bringing to the table. In addition to subject matter expertise spanning the various stages of the entrepreneurial journey, these partners are also providing distance learning technology to help students stay connected even as they learn from home. With health and safety concerns still preventing large gatherings, the Foundation had to get creative in crafting four weeks’ worth of distance learning experiences. In true entrepreneurial fashion, Gasmire, Grubbs, and their team flexed their problem-solving muscles, replacing 2019’s in-person events with daily training and inspirational, on-demand video content.
“We’re also introducing a pitch video contest for elementary, middle, and high school age groups,” Gasmire adds. “Students can win up to $500 in cash, a Google Home, as well as a host of other products from Quickbooks, Baylor University, and the Dallas Mavericks.”
Guaranty Bank & Trust is one of the proud sponsors of the Boss Club Foundation’s 2020 Summer Entrepreneurship Program. “Small businesses are among our most valued customers, and we are excited to support the next generation of small business owners,” says CEO Ty Abston. Gasmire, Grubbs, and the families who have signed up in record numbers for the Foundation’s 2020 programs are just as excited to have Guaranty’s backing. “Thanks to Guaranty, 150 children who might not otherwise have participated in this program will be able to say ‘I am an entrepreneur’ by August 1.”
With almost 900 new small businesses gearing up for their July 11th grand openings, summer 2020 promises to be peak season for the Boss Club Foundation and its partners. Learn how you can support their efforts, and help enterprising young Texans in your community dream big and work hard, by visiting www.bossclubfoundation.org today.