Tom Hart, Eduvation Labs : Connecting students and startups

By Team YS|14th Feb 2011
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Eduvation Labs aims to lead more of America’s high-potential youth into careers at high-growth startups or launching their own ventures. Very similar to Teach For America did with youth education, we champion a more meaningful, but underrepresented, career path on campus at a scale beyond which startup organizations can support.They recruit students nationally, placing them in Technology, Design, Marketing, or Finance internships with entrepreneurial and disruptive organizations in the Southern California community. The program wraps around this Startup Internship with entrepreneurial, industry and functional curriculum, and a Venture Project where each student will start a company alongside a cross-functional team of students and mentors.

The team is made up of alternative education, internet startup, marketing, technology, design, and finance enthusiasts from around the U.S. passionate about ensuring the next generation of youth is better prepared to contribute to society. Tom Hart, founder of Eduvation Labs worked in Management Consulting for 5 years before deciding to pursue web entrepreneurship full-time. He talks to YourStory about this initiative.

How it works…

Students apply for a functional track (Technology, Design, Marketing, Finance) and are placed with Startups and other entrepreneurial organizations in Southern California based on their specified internship role descriptions. Students start the program at Eduvation Labs for 2 weeks where we will provide instruction and guest speakers aligned to core entrepreneurial and functional curriculum. During this time, we will also start team Venture Projects where cross-functional teams of students and mentors will start their own companies during the summer.

After two weeks, students will start working with their startup 4 days a week, returning to Eduvation Labs on Fridays to work on their Venture Projects and network with other students and companies. The summer will close with a "Demo Day" similar to that of other technology incubators where local Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors will review the progress of the student's Venture Projects, and potentially conduct further due diligence on deploying growth capital.

For students, the depth and breadth of our program will provide a more rich educational and networking experience. Startups are able to receive free internships (now otherwise illegal with federal labor laws), are not responsible for the traditional administrative and educational burden of a summer internship, and are able to give back by investing in the next generation of entrepreneurs.

How did this come about?

Tom was running on a treadmill listening to a podcast of the founder of Teach for America speaking at Stanford, when he realized that many of the employability issues with tomorrow's workforce, and the limitations on youth entrepreneurship, could be resolved by exposing more students to the entrepreneurial career path early on. Much like small schools are not able to recruit students at top universities to become teachers, startups have no ability to represent the opportunities that come along with an entrepreneurial career - we will champion this career path at a national scale.

How many students do you plan to recruit?

Pilot program this summer will be 30-50 students, focused primarily on universities in the Southern California area. Depending on results from the pilot, the vision is to recruit nationally, provide housing in the Los Angeles area, and scale the program to hundreds or thousands of students. Students will pay a small fee for the program (more behavioral then financial) and startups will be asked for a suggested donation per student placed, therefore we are currently building external financial support with the hopes of establishing an endowment that could fund operations forward.

Expansion plans

We are planning for Southern California to continue to be the program's physical hub, while launching a separate "satellite" program more conducive to working remotely and integrated with the physical hub. This satellite program would be international and started either this summer or soon thereafter.

Visit Eduvation Labs here : http://eduvationlabs.org/

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