One of the best ways for young entrepreneurial hopefuls to get started on their journey, meet like-minded peers, find mentors, and develop the necessary skills to run a business, is by completing a program specifically designed for teen entrepreneurs.
The programs listed below range from competitions to summer programs away from home. Some are free; others require tuition. If a program interests you and the deadline has already past, don’t worry — make a note of this year’s timeline so you can start preparing for next year.
We’re certain that no matter your field, goal, or financial abilities, you’re sure to find something that can give you a major boost on your entrepreneurial journey!
1. The Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition (CEC)
Ages: 13-29 years old
Prize: Virtual gold badge, certificate, and feedback from entrepreneurial experts
About: The CEC accepts both ideas and projects connected to one of their 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include global poverty and hunger, gender equality, and climate action.
2. The Diamond Challenge by the Horn Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware
Ages: 14-18 years old
Prize: $8,000, access to the Virtual Diamond Challenge Summit experience, summer accelerator, and access to accelerator scholarships
About: Teams of 2-4 students (can be from more than one school) plus one adult advisor create a pitch for one of two tracks: business innovation or social innovation. Pitches and presentations are judged on criteria such as feasibility, social impact, and wow factor.
3. Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA)
Ages: 14-18 years old
Cost: FREE (open to DECA members only)
Prize: Stiped to attend DECA’s International Career Development Conference, cash prizes, or other prizes
About: DECA prepares student leaders and future entrepreneurs through local high school chapters. Members are then invited to participate in challenges and competitions such as Entrepreneur of Tomorrow Challenge, Innovation Challenge, Knowledge Matters Challenge, and Social Media Marketing Challenge.
4. World Series of Innovation by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (nfte!)
Ages: 13-24 years old
Prize: $1,500 first prize
About: Individual students or teams select one of nine challenges, brainstorm solutions, and submit their ideas for a product, service or initiative. Challenges are designed around common global problems such as clean energy, economic equality, and social justice.
Ages: Rising 10th-12th graders
Cost: $5,980 (includes platform access, activities, prototyping costs, and social activities; financial aid available)
Length: 5 weeks
About: Young entrepreneurs from around the world work in teams to create products and solve business problems, from idea to execution. The program is both online and in-person; previous locations have included M.I.T. and UPenn.
2. Quarter Zero
Ages: High schoolers
Cost: Virtual = $1,200-4,000; in-person = $4,450
Length: Virtual = 10 or 50 days; in-person (Santa Barbara, CA) = 10 days
About: Whether virtual or in-person (or a hybrid of both), students of this program are offered the chance to “create, disrupt, and thrive” in their entrepreneurial journey. The classes are a maximum of 15 minutes, launch immediately in the real world, demo days, and are offered expert guidance. The virtual program offers a 10-day Startup Camp or a 50-day Catapult Incubator. The in-person program offers much the same things, but more hands-on.
3. BIZNOVATOR Camp @ Florida International University
Ages: 15 to 19 years old
Cost: Residential = $3,500; commuter = $2,000; virtual = $600
Length: 2 weeks
About: This particular program is less about starting a business and more about encouraging campers to learn, grow, and become their best selves through hands-on experience, field trips, labs, and roundtable discussions.
4. Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE)
Ages: Rising 10th and 11th graders
Cost: $1,850 (does not include travel to and from the site, or dinner on excursion day) + a non-refundable $25 application fee
Length: 1 week per program
About: FTE offers a variety of business and entrepreneurship programs throughout the summer, including Economic Forces in American History, Economics for Leaders, and Entrepreneurship in the Global Economy. Classes are offered both virtually and on-site at college campuses around the country.
1. Beta Bowl
Ages: High school (14-18)
Cost: $397-2,997, depending on program
Length: 4 weekends to 12 weeks, depending on program
About: Beta Bowl is run by Wall Street investor and startup consultant Rachel Greenberg. Her programs are online and interactive, and include group calls, 1-on-1 sessions, and weekly tasks. Packages take students through the entrepreneurial journey from idea to pitch, with downloadable templates. Platinum Package students receive a custom college reference letter from Rachel.
2. Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!)
Ages: Grades 6th-12th
Cost: $20 application fee
Length: 1 year
About: Students learn about entrepreneurship, including starting and launching their own business, through this year-long program with locations around the country. The program includes guest lectures by local entrepreneurs in a wide range of fields, elevator pitch coaching, logo and brand design, and field trips.
3. Young Entrepreneurs: How to Create a Small Business Budget (Outschool)
Ages: 12-17 years old
Length: 30 minutes, one time
About: For those short on time who just want a little help learning how to create a budget, this is the class for you. You don’t need to know anything about budgets or finance ahead of time – all you need is entrepreneurial spirit.
4. How to Think Like an Entrepreneur by Wake Forest Pre-College Programs
Ages: Students completing grades 9-12
Length: 2-week or 4-week sessions, ongoing
About: Earn a Certificate of Completion from Wake Forest University with this 30-hour, asynchronous, fully online business program aimed at college-bound high school entrepreneurs.
This list is just a small sample of the many entrepreneurial programs out there for teens like you. Whichever program you choose, we hope you gain valuable knowledge, experience, and make some good friends along the way.
Are you a Florida-based young entrepreneur looking for a college scholarship? Click here to learn more about how the Kantner Foundation can help you!