Article by: Caroline Dipping
SAN YSIDRO — More than 300 budding businessmen and women poured into the theater at San Ysidro High School recently to attend a high-energy, interactive seminar on entrepreneurship.
Instead of wearing suits, most were clad in hoodies and jeans. No one was carrying a briefcase or portfolio, but one attendee did have his skateboard in tow, protectively tucked under one arm.
The Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour that blitzed through the South County high school last month was engineered precisely for these teens, all business students attending schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District. In just one morning, they were exposed to PowerPoint presentations, keynote speakers, exhibits, speed networking, a workshop and a panel aimed at getting them revved up about the possibility of starting their own business.
In between flinging T-shirts into the crowd, moderator E.J. Carrion addressed the assemblage with evangelical fervor.
“Who wants to be successful? Oh yeah! Who wants more money in your pocket, purse or wallet than when you came in here?
“High five the person next to you like you’ve had three Red Bulls and two 5-Hour Energy Drinks!”
Created in 2006 by two 20-somethings, the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour is scripted with youth in mind. The tour has featured young businessmen and women who have built or sold successful companies for more than $1 million before the age of 30.
At the San Ysidro High School tour stop, Aaron Steed, cofounder of Meathead Movers, talked about starting his own business when he was a junior in high school and evolving it into the largest independent moving company in California today.
Tour manager Mike Pronovost, 22, started his first tech company at 16 and at 18 created hybrid technology that ended up being one of the world’s fastest high speed Internet networks. He said spreading the entrepreneurship message to teenagers works best if the messenger is young too.
“At this age, they are very much intrigued about the entry level, how to get started,” he said. “This is high energy and tailored to them. Success is if we can provoke someone to start thinking that they can actually start their own business.”
The San Diego Center for International Trade and Development hosted the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour in San Ysidro and it was presented by Empact, a company that has held more than 400 such events in 35 states.