Young People Inspire Start-Ups
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a New York-based global organization that helps young people from low-income backgrounds learn about starting and running a small business. Kids spend part of their summer vacation partnered with start-up company and gaining valuable hands-on experience in the world of business. However, the benefits of the program are not restricted to just mentoring young people. In fact, business participants in the program often point out the value of the fresh perspectives that the young people bring to the businesses that they work with.
Steve Mariotti, the founder of NFTE, sums this perspective up, saying “”One thing that young people have is a fresh eye. Young people look at things with no bias and a different kind of energy than older people do.”
The young participants come to their work without some of the biases that long-time employees might have developed. The participants in NFTE might, for example, ask simple questions such as “What are you selling?” and “Why would I want to buy this?” These questions can help business regain their focus. Additionally, business participants must communicate with a youth population that does not necessarily speak the same “technical” language as the businesses. This forces businesses to simplify their messages and better communicate with their customers.
Ultimately, kids bring exuberance to problem solving. They often try things even if told it “won’t work.” This attitude is essential in the world of small business and start-up companies. Businesses need to embrace the independence exemplified by young people and continually look for opportunities, not obstacles.
Joel Natividad, head of Ontodia, a data analysis startup and participant in the NFTE program, agrees with this sentiment, saying, “”I always fed off the energy of the kids. I still do.”