STARKVILLE, MS – July 19, 2023 – Sunshine, success, and lemonade – the perfect ingredients for inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit. Mississippi State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach (MSU E-Center) commemorated the accomplishment of its 2023 Youth Entrepreneurship Day, demonstrating the resilience, innovation, and untapped potential of our region’s K-12 entrepreneurs.
Youth Entrepreneurship Day combines the culminating pop-up shop of the week-long iCREATE Summer Camp for entrepreneurship students ages 14-17 and the Golden Triangle Lemonade Day, a one-day competition for younger kids vying to be the region’s top lemonade stand.
iCREATE brings together campers who had never met each other. They have to form a company, develop, design and make products at the MSU Idea Shop, then ultimately market and sell their goods at an end of camp pop-up shop on Main Street. Along the way they also hear from local businesses and get a crash course in what it takes to start and grow a business. This year the students brought their A-game, with ten campers managing to set a new single-day sales record of an impressive $3,292 with their week-old business, Coastal Connection. The campers each get to pocket their share of the net earnings. The iCREATE Camp is coordinated by the School of Human Sciences and the College of Business. This year’s camp marks the 7th year of the successful partnership.
Justin Hall, instructor in the School of Human Sciences and camp coordinator for this year’s camp reinforced what makes the camp so unique. “iCREATE is special because rather than teaching students about being an entrepreneur, we’re providing them a chance to be entrepreneurs,” said Hall. “These students leave our program having learned that while starting a business is difficult, with the right team and determination, they can apply these skills in their own lives, in their home communities.
Lemonade Day proved to be an equally successful event. An astounding 358 students from across the Golden Triangle setup and ran a total of 140 lemonade stands. The program, designed to teach kids the basics of entrepreneurship and running a business, saw students demonstrating their understanding of business concepts, marketing strategies, customer service, and fiscal management. From experimenting with flavors to managing supplies and handling customer interactions, these children got a first-hand experience of running a business. The top sellers in Columbus, West Point and Starkville each win a brand new bicycle!
“The number of young entrepreneurs participating in Lemonade Day is bigger than some cities with much, much larger populations. I attribute that to the parental and community support that rewards these kids for their hard work. It is incredibly satisfying to see all of the stands and all of the folks lining up to buy lemonade. Thanks to our partners Cadence Bank and Castle Properties for helping to make this happen.”
Both programs are important pillars of the E-Center’s strategic initiatives to grow strong K-12 programs that draw statewide and national participation to further advance the progress that can be made in college.
“Just as teaching advanced mathematics earlier helps students achieve more in college, we believe the same theory applies to entrepreneurship,” said Eric Hill, Director of the MSU E-Center. “Anything we can do to jumpstart the process of students thinking more entrepreneurial sooner will help them to get started on ‘real’ ideas right out of the gate as freshmen.”
For more information about entrepreneurship programs at MSU, visit http://ecenter.msstate.edu.
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