October 20 2014

Lamp Post University and Millennial Entrepreneurs

10488651_1439966629602176_1234859331_nWith mid-terms passed and fall breaks underway, the school year is in full swing and hurtling towards the end of the fall semester. It seems such a short time ago that classes were just starting, and we had only just said farewell to the amazing young talent that filled up our offices at the Loveman’s building this summer. Both the interns and the high school students who participated in this year’s Lamp Post University were an amazing group. We can’t believe the amount of smarts and chutzpa that the next generation of young entrepreneurs hold, and we can’t wait to see what they do with it.

The interns we had this past spring and summer were a mix of high school and college students with a variety of ambitions and majors who have headed to universities all over the country. They helped us with everything from social media and communications to recruitment to office administration and event planning. Far from gophers and coffee-fetchers, they played an integral roll in Lamp Post’s operations and WayPaver’s experiments in innovation and job placement.

Flemming Farrow is entering her freshman year at George Washington University, hoping to focus on international studies and business. Eller Mallchok, a biology major at Dickinson College, has returned to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to continue her studies and participation in campus organizations like the IdeaFund, a student-led incubator and revolving loan fund. Darby Schumacher is headed to Stanford after a whirlwind summer of travel, competing in Miss Tennessee, and applying for the Thiel Fellowship.

Photo Credit: Cheryl Toomey

Photo Credit: Cheryl Toomey

Julia Martin and Mae Stuart are attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and are members of the prestigious Brock Scholars Program. Julia just got engaged and Mae recently won a Causeway Challenge grant for an entrepreneurial concept she pitched that will create stronger links between UTC students and the downtown community. Sally Matlock is also attending Dickinson college after helping us all summer with the Lamp Post University program.

Lamp Post University is a unique program that gives high school students a taste of the entrepreneurial world. They go through a mock startup process, from concept ideation through fundraising, branding, leadership, and rapid growth. They learn from Miller Welbourn and Jack Studer the pros and cons of a bank loan versus a venture capital through The Bank Game and were mentored by each of the LPG Partners in their areas of expertise. As Allan Davis explained, “Coming to LPU allows students inside access to investors. It lets them past the very high walls we typically have in place.” Throughout the summer they learned to think, react, and dream like entrepreneurs.

They learned a lesson few people their age get— that success in business is not necessarily contingent on your level of education, and that even teenagers can have great business ideas and carry them out. Gage Taylor of Baylor School explained, “I learned that goals are achieved not by focusing on the final product, but by focusing on the steps necessary to achieve that final product. I feel like I have friends who are connected, so that when I do have a great idea I can make it happen.”

10598367_1518821045001009_645146879_nAndrew Smith of McCallie School said of his experience, “My experience at Lamp Post truly opened my eyes to the role of the youth as the designers of the future. Before spending time at Lamp Post, I failed to see the opportunities to do something extraordinary that are right in front of me. I look at life in a whole new light now. I used to ask myself how I could make a lot of money after college because that is what the environment around me stressed. Now I ask myself how I can change the world right now.”

One of the most important lessons the interns and LPU students are taught is that entrepreneurship is as much about community as it is about big exits and huge Series A rounds. In addition to workshops on entrepreneurship and finance, Andrew said it was Shelley Prevost’s lessons that made some of the greatest impact. “Shelley’s emphasis on the differentiation of money and happiness finally grounded a stressful part of my life. It was nice to finally see that there are actually many people who are on the same page as I am.”

We are already scheming and dreaming up what next year’s internships and Lamp Post University curriculum will look like. It’s very motivating every time we hear from one of our fantastic alumni that they are doing well and kicking butt in college and in life, putting to good use the lessons that we taught them in summers past. By sharing a startup mentality and the tough lessons of how to take smart risks outside the world of tech and VC, we know that whatever these millennials go on to do will be fresh, innovative, and bold.