Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Startup Corps: Igniting the entrepreneurial spirit of young Philadelphians

Startup Corps students Anthony Torrance, Douglas Wallace,
and Rashaun Williams with co-founder Christian Kunkel
We recently accompanied Peirce President James J. Mergiotti on a visit to the Science Leadership Academy (SLA) in Philadelphia to meet with students participating in the Startup Corps program.

We sat down with the students to hear about their entrepreneurial concepts and the projects they’ve been working on as part of the course.

Peirce College is a founding sponsor of Startup Corps, serving as the educational sponsor to the group of 14 students who are currently part of the SLA entrepreneur group.

The organization is built upon the principle of leveraging students’ passions and teaching them how to turn ideas into something tangible, all the while fostering an entrepreneurial spirit and encouraging them to be active, engaged participants in their own education -- all concepts that are very important to us here at Peirce.

Startup Corps engages the regional entrepreneurial community to take part in the educational process, and volunteers play an important role in making the program a reality. Volunteer entrepreneurs can assist in many ways, including guest speaking, serving as mentors, or simply offering advice.

According to Startup Corps co-founders Rich Sedmak and Christian Kunkel, SLA student businesses are making great progress across the board. One standout group is Phresh Philadelphia, a group of students who have formed a community organization to clean up neighborhoods and change Philadelphia’s reputation for being an unattractive city. They've been working with other local organizations such as the Philadelphia Youth Network and 100 Black Men to help build their volunteer base.

Now in its second year, Startup Corps is currently offered in five locations across the city and has reached over 70 students. To support the growing number of program participants and mentors, Startup Corps relies not only on their volunteers but on partnerships and resources that are vital to meeting the demand of students and administrators throughout Philadelphia. In its role as founding sponsor, Peirce has “adopted” the SLA chapter and provides both financial support and mentoring.

Last spring, Peirce’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) group worked with the Startup Corps students at SLA, serving as mentors to provide feedback on their business plans and help them develop their entrepreneurial skills. Over the next two weeks, our current group will be matched up with their SIFE mentors from Peirce. They’ll soon meet face to face and start this year’s mentorship process to begin preparing for their final presentations! Peirce and Startup Corps continue to build their relationship upon a shared commitment to educating Philadelphians, no matter what age.

Peirce is proud to work with an organization like Startup Corps that shares our commitment to educating Philadelphians while supporting entrepreneurship, something the College sees as integral to the future success of Philadelphia’s economy. And of course there are the talented young students who inspire us every day with their personal dedication to their own education. We look forward to following their successes as they move forward with their business plans and prepare to graduate from the program!

Watch the video to learn more about the Startup Corps mission and how Peirce College fits in to support the program.