By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
A non-profit organization that up to now has been conducting camps and workshops for aspiring young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Honolulu and a few international locations is bringing its distinctive programming to Chattanooga for two weeks in June.
Mike Gibbs, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Camp BizSmart Inc., says the organization will offer a 10-day residential program June 11 through 24 at Baylor School. It’s the first such domestic offering outside California.
“One of our graduates from a camp at Stanford (University) enrolled in the Baylor School, and his parents convinced the Headmaster (Scott Wilson) that Camp BizSmart should be a part of the Baylor summer curriculum,” Gibbs told us.
Now in its 10th year, Camp BizSmart is sponsored by Microsoft Start-up. Camps have been offered in Honolulu “off and on” since 2009. International locations in the past have included India since 2009, Lima since 2014, and Zurich since 2015. BizSmart is adding camps in Geneva, Hong Kong, Munich and Paris this year.
“I really loved the energy and can do spirit of the people of Chattanooga,” Gibbs said. “The Baylor leaders are committed, the campus is terrific, and the Tennessee Valley is a national treasure.”
It’s not an inexpensive program. Full tuition and housing is $3,295, but Gibbs says Camp BizSmart has scholarships that will cover 50 percent of the tuition and even one that covers all of the tuition although room and board are still the student’s responsibility.
Participants in Camp BizSmart focus on a team-based, hands-on innovation case product design and a business plan challenge specifically designed for them. Gibbs says the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute has designed one for Chattanooga where the teams will brainstorm a solution for a freshwater monitoring device, do a concept design, build a prototype, and pitch their business plans to local investors.
“We will award the top student (from the Baylor camp) a full scholarship to our invitation only BizSmart Global Accelerator at Stanford in 2018,” Gibbs added.
What profile is he seeking?
The program is designed for students in the 11 to 15 year old age group. A total of 24 youngsters will be accepted and divided into four teams.
“The students that do best at Camp BizSmart have what we call ZOG or zest, optimism and grit,” Gibbs says. “I tell parents that Camp BizSmart is not for everyone. If they are interested in sports, they should go to a sports camp, not Camp BizSmart.”