Celebration of Youth Entrepreneurship Held in April
On April 10, University School’s Entrepreneur Institute held its 6th annual Celebration of Youth Entrepreneurship, a daylong event featuring a successful young entrepreneur and an expo for student entrepreneurs. Students from 20 area public, private, and charter schools were invited to attend.
Shama Kabani, a marketing strategist, was the event’s keynote speaker. Middle school and high school students were captivated by Kabani who was named one of the Top 30 Under 30 U.S. Entrepreneurs by Inc. Magazine. Speaking at three different events for distinct age groups, Kabani reached more than 800 students and 200+ adults. For her two presentations to the middle and high school students, Kabani focused on the journey that she took to become an entrepreneur. Her evening talk invited adults to think more deeply about social media and marketing.
Kabani, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, penned her thesis on Twitter when the social media site only had 2,000 users. Kabani believed that sites like Twitter would be integral to businesses seeking to grow. When the young graduate sought to convince prospective employers of this idea, she did not find receptive listeners. Convinced that social media and web marketing had a big role to play in business, Kabani created her own marketing and digital PR firm, Marketing Zen Group; the company serves clients from around the world and has experienced 400% growth annually since its creation five years ago. Marketing Zen Group assists businesses in optimizing their marketing operations with appropriate online tools, including social media. Kabani reminded evening attendees that it is important for a business to focus on its objectives. She elaborated, “just because there is an [online] tool, doesn’t mean you have to use it.”
The evening event, which was open to the public, concluded with a youth entrepreneurship fair. Many left the event with student-made salsas, putty, authentic Thai cuisine, hair bows, spices, key chains, chips, baked goods, magnetic dry and erase boards, hot sauce, terrariums, and toilet plungers made from golf clubs. Students were encouraged by prospective buyers to provide their best sales pitch, explain their pricing models, and elaborate upon the source of inspiration for their business. Dotted among the student businesses were displays for summer camps; the Young Entrepreneur Market; and the business accelerator, LaunchHouse.