By Ann Young, Summer Times Staff Writer
Access Exeter students have the opportunity this summer to learn many skills necessary to begin their own startups in the future. Through the class, “Entrepreneurship: Moral Money Making,” Mr. Thomas Guthrie aims to teach his students “the skills and perspective necessary to develop their own startup ideas and start building a company while being mindful of the impact of their organizations on customers, employees, investors, competitors, the general population, and the environment.”
Students in the class are tasked with devising their own startup ideas. According to Mr. Guthrie, students will eventually be faced with a ‘Shark Tank’ scenario in which they will “pitch their ideas and be evaluated on the innovativeness of their product, the viability of their business model, and the positive impact of their idea on the world.” The challenge is inspired by the popular television series ‘Shark Tank,’ in which promising entrepreneurs pitch their products to five self-made industry tycoons in hopes of walking away with investments that will propel their companies to success.
Throughout the course, students will have the opportunity to meet guest speakers who have successfully founded or co-founded their own businesses. Speakers include Rachel Peck, former Chief of Staff and an early employee at shaving supply company Harry’s, and Calvin Bohn, co-founder of a human-grade cat food company called Smalls.
Two successful Phillips Exeter alumni have also spoken to Mr. Guthrie’s class. One of these speakers was Zach Zelner. Zelner is the founder of PupSocks, a company that puts the faces of pets or people on customized socks. Jason Kang—another Phillips Exeter alum—and Katherine Jin, also spoke to the class on their experiences co-founding Kinnos, a company that produces colored disinfectants in order to reduce decontamination.
For homework, students are given articles authored by successful venture capitalists and founders. Students in the course also research and write profiles of current startups. They develop their own startup ideas and receive feedback from potential customers on their ideas, products, and pricing. During class, they typically discuss their assigned homework readings and help each other with the development of their ideas.