Education Matters: Educating Entrepreneurs

Fresno Unified School District has strived to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs, though its Phillip J. Patiño School of Entrepreneurship, and students at the school were given a very unique mid-term assignment: taking on real business clients, and produce a product they could use.

To do that, however, they partnered up with local companies, who mentored them throughout the process. 

For Hannah Shermian, she always wanted to be an entrepreneur, having come from a family of business owners.

"I always had a dream of designing and starting my own business," said Shermian. "And about four-and-a-half years ago, I started working on Boxy Girl, which is a high end luxury beauty box, and started designing it with my dad, and we launched it September of 2015."

Shermian is passionate about the company she is creating, and has plans for it to grow.

"So, we started a product and development company, and Boxy Girl is our first product we are launching with, but we have other amazing products and new businesses coming up in the next six months."

Shermian's entrepreneurial spirit is shared by students.

"I would like to create a company with my friends to make video games and maybe websites with the skills that I've learned here. I want to actually go into the world and create a company." said Omar Levin, who is learning skills like web design, online marketing, and coding.

"Here the work that we are doing, the work is actually meant to do something, we are doing work towards something we will do in the real world." said Levin.

That real world experience will including the building of a business.

"We want them to be entrepreneurs, they are going to start their own companies next year how do we build those skills in." said Principal Brett Taylor.

Students learn the skills needed to build a business, from people who are doing it, like Shermian.

"They approached us, I think they are looking to work with local entrepreneurs that are a start up like mine, and looking to partner with people who are willing to mentor." said Shermian.

The project began last November, with students taking on clients like Boxy Girl and Joy Vang Photography. Students were given the task of designing a website, as well as an online marketing campaign for the companies. With the help of intern partners from Bitwise Industries, in-class technology consultants, teachers, and students worked to produce a project to meet their client's needs.

The project can be described as a mid-term of sorts for the students, which has to be presented to clients. It was a great opportunity for students to get feedbacks and learn, as well as learning how to deliver a product on time, and meeting expectations.

Principal Brett Taylor said these are things no one can learn, in a textbook.

"You can have great web development skills, but if you can't learn from your customer or client, you can't deliver what they want. You can't shift to their expectations, you're not going to make it in the business world."


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