Is A New Interactive Community Helping Teens Launch Startups

Mark Drapeau (Washington, DC) —

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, or NFTE, an international non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring young people from low-income communities to stay in school and recognize business opportunities, just launched, an new interactive web community that gives teens the tools and knowledge needed to help turn their interests and hobbies into real businesses. This peer-to-peer platform brings NFTE’s entrepreneurship curriculum to the web for free.

As a consequence of launching this new web platform, NFTE is significantly increasing entrepreneurship education beyond the confines of schools and to youth regardless of their socioeconomic circumstances, geography, or school leadership decisions. The platform also offers a micro-site for educators, youth-workers, and parents to provide the maximum amount of support to youth users.

With the U.S. teen unemployment rate at 24.5% in 2011, young people are clearly struggling to find jobs. proactively tackles this issue by providing young people, parents, and educators with significant resources that give youth the opportunity to start their own businesses and create their own summer employment.

Upon successful completion of the step-by-step course, users will have developed all of the components of their business plan and will become certified as a “NFTE Youth CEO.” This credential can be used on students’ college and job applications as a meaningful designation that illustrates their personal initiative and ingenuity.

Amy Rosen, President and CEO of NFTE said in a press release about the new community,

“Today, global unemployment for young people is at an all time high. At the same time, the idea and dream of becoming an entrepreneur is becoming increasingly popular – and with constant innovation and digital connectedness, young people are proactively and creatively seeking to connect their educational and career aspirations in ways that are personally relevant, financially lucrative, and meaningful. By creating, we are giving all youth across the U.S. the chance to take their entrepreneurial goals to the next level. For the majority of users, the experience will support and develop their aspirations, teach valuable workplace skills, help them make informed education and career choices in the future. I know all of us at NFTE look forward to watching what this next generation of innovators and entrepreneurial dreamers can achieve.”

NFTE’s exciting and engaging content will be brought to life on on the site through a five step process:

  1. From Love Comes Money: Launch a business that is fun for you and one that you are passionate about
  2. Stand Out In The Crowd: Survey your competitors and create your comparative advantage
  3. Know Your Numbers: Making Sure You Make a Profit
  4. Closing the Deal: How to sell it, build a network, and stay in the know
  5. Pay It Forward: Think about how your business can make the world a better place

Each step of this process will also incorporate a number of features, including:

  • Self-Assessment: Examines students’ own financial literacy, business acumen and interests to provide the basis for business plan content
  • Interactive Checklist and Tracking Tools: Checklist and business plan tracking tool allows young entrepreneurs to make changes as they progress and fully build out and implement ideas
  • Mentor Program: Mentors will be available to help students review and assess draft business plans
  • Guest Blogs and Video: Blogs and v-blogs from NFTE’s own young entrepreneurs to celebrity entrepreneurs like Daymond John on the latest in business news
  • Social Networking: Functionalities including live chats with entrepreneurs and other business leaders
  • Business Database: A selection of case studies, q&a video interviews and more on businesses started by other site participants and NFTE students/graduates to showcase the robust range of ideas and share insights of how young people developed their ideas and their successes/failures

Finally, has partnered with AOL’s popular young adult destination, for the launch of a new content hub on Cambio focused on helping teens create businesses and learn to make smart financial choices throughout their lives. (Cambio general manager Nathan Coyle was recently featured in a NFTE fundraiser called Geek 2 Chic: photos here.) Cambio and the NFTE will collaborate to allow teens access to, along with inspiring videos of fellow teen entrepreneurs on AOL will also give a select number of teen entrepreneurs competing in NFTE’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge the opportunity to present their business ideas on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt-NY in September 2012.

At a time when politicians and political candidates are constantly talking about “creating jobs and improving the economy,” NFTE, a traditional, well-established nonprofit, has leveraged their resources and gone into the digital space and collaborated with AOL/Cambio to expand their reach and empower young people disproportionately affected by tough economic times to help themselves by building something from scratch.

Dr. Mark Drapeau is part of the Microsoft Office of Civic Innovation, based in Washington, DC. Follow more about this new site at

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Corey McCarren

Very cool. Lessons in entrepreneurship are often limited to people fortunate enough to college, so it’s great to see these resources available for younger high school students. I’m sure the resource is useful for entrepreneurs of all-ages as well.