By Amanda Moores; Catapult Incubator 2019
The idea of opportunity being everywhere can be considered a cliché. It is easy to find ourselves questioning the idea of opportunity being all around us when our lives seem to follow a certain rhythm or flow. For instance, wake up at 6:00 am, quickly get ready, eat breakfast, and then rush out the door to school (secretly hoping that we can make it on time!) As a high school student, the days throughout the week seems to mesh into one-another because every day we follow a daily routine, whether we are aware of it or not! Yet, if you take a moment to pause and watch your surroundings, you will be amazed at the intricate detail this world holds and be able to see opportunity everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE!
Junior year of high school I was a bright-eyed student always aiming to receive the top grades on my test scores, was at the top of my class and took part in an array of high school extra-curricular activities. Slowly I began to develop a passion for the concept of entrepreneurship. I was amazed at the career lifestyle and the companies people were able to build: from biotech based businesses to social causes. This concept of using creativity to create an impactful brand excited me. I quickly found myself studying all things entrepreneurship. Luckily, my school had an array of business based classes: from marketing to finance and economics.
I then noticed that doors began to open for me to learn and study more about entrepreneurship. This new passion of mine led me to an array of opportunities: women in STEM groups, business competitions, grant applications, and Quarter Zero! At the time I heard about Quarter Zero, I was a senior in high school and was in a phase of particularly being fascinated in learning more about the most effective way to learn how to create a startup practically. Was it idea, create, beta-test, launch, profit? No, rather I learned a startup consists of user testing, research, research, research, MVP creation, research, and launch version 1!
The information I have learned from Quarter Zero is SO valuable. Not only is the format of the education easily taught and comprehensible, but also very interactive. The program facilitators encouraged the students to truly learn by doing. Quarter Zero planned the program perfectly so that by the time we left our destinations (being San Francisco, Chicago, & New York) we had ideas to work on and content to explore! Also, the cohort itself became like a huge family! Every person involved in the program was so kind, wonderful, and eager to learn!
The weeks were set up in the following templates: understanding the problem, creating the solution, & telling our vision. In San Francisco the courses were set up to teach us how to think in terms of solving a problem in society. Rather than personally identifying a problem and believing that it is viable, Quarter Zero encouraged us to learn a new mindset: to just focus on how the targeted market feels about the identified problem. From there, the research acts as a guiding light on how to best create a solution.
This then leads us to Chicago, where the solution was then evaluated and the most valuable word was spoken about: PIVOT. We learned a very important part of creating a startup is being flexible with the original solution. As Chicago went underway we also learned another key idea called MVP (minimum viable product). This idea is to create the minimal or most basic version of your product, knowing that along the way pivots will come. This idea was fascinating to me, as I always assumed that the most successful startup created their ideal version of the product upon launch, but actually the idea of creating a full version of your product upon launch is simply not in the founder’s best interest.
In New York we learned all about pitching, creating a pitch deck, and the importance of a clear & concise presentation.
And of course, during the incubator, we also had fun excursions around the cities we visited, from going on a boat cruise around the San Francisco Bay to taking part in a walking tour in New York.
This incubator is truly an amazing experience that will teach you so much about entrepreneurship. I highly recommend this program to any high school student who even has a slight interest in entrepreneurship because the content learned is so valuable. Maybe you even reading this blog is a sign for you to take part in this wonderful opportunity & learn what entrepreneurship has to offer!