entrepreneurship is not for everyone, so why act like it is?
To Victor Hwang, VP of entrepreneurship at the Kaufman
Foundation, the answer is simple. Work has changed. We all
must become entrepreneurs, or at least like entrepreneurs.
“The school system has long taught for industrial jobs: how to
fnd a job, how to fll a job. But the jobs of the new economy
are ones where you have to be entrepreneurial.” The youth
entrepreneurship movement, he says, is “more primal than
a popular trend; it’s a response to macroeconomic forces.”
“The idea that you go work for IBM for 30 years and get
a pension is antiquated,” says Craig Shapiro, associate super-
intendent for high schools in the Austin Independent School
District, a position he assumed after starting the Crockett
program, Student Inc. “By the year 2020, 40 percent of the
jobs will be entrepreneurial in nature. Yet we have a factory-
style education system that doesn’t prepare
kids” for such a world.
What Shapiro, Sandefer, and the others
leading this youth entrepreneurship move-
ment are doing doesn’t look like factory-style
education. It looks messy. It often looks
dubious—much as startups do. Sometimes, as
at the Acton Children’s Business Fair, it looks
inspired. Forget the too-familiar question:
Can entrepreneurship be taught? The one
these new initiatives pose is subtler, and far more signifcant:
Can entrepreneurship—and, more important, the traits that
underpin successful entrepreneurs—be learned?
WHEN JEFF SANDEFER was a teenager in Abilene, his oilman dad insisted he spend a couple of summers doing manual labor in the oil felds. The summer before his senior year, he was working on a crew of day laborers who
repainted oil-feld storage tanks. He noticed that many of the
crew spent only about a third of their time actually working. “So
I came up with this idea to start a company and hire our high
school football coaches, who weren’t working in the summer,”
theM tO say,
‘Hey, i sOlD
That was fuN,
aND i waNt tO
try agaiN.’ ”
• JEFF SANDEFER, whose dedication to educating
entrepreneurs has played a big role in making his
native Austin a central player in such eforts.