Clear Aim Marketing and Communications for Social Impact

Mentoring Student Startups at Incubator Vista Ridge

When I worked at Hewlett Packard Enterprise I loved the homage to Bill and Dave’s original vision to make an impact on the community where you live and work. In partnership with HPE Foundation, the company actively reinforced the importance of volunteering and giving back wherever you can.

Our teams of employees did everything from re-painting schools and packing food donations to cleaning up parks and tutoring local kids. Among my favorite activities were the startup demo days, organized by Fast Forward to support their annual cohort of tech non-profits.

When I left HPE and started Clear Aim, I wanted to continue the practice of volunteering and made it part of my plan to reserve time and energy to do so. This week, I joined other entrepreneurs in my community to kick off a school year of mentoring with INCubator Vista Ridge. Through this elective program, high school students in their junior year get the opportunity to build real business startups and be paired with community mentors.

Mentor holding the agenda for Incubator Vista Ridge
Local entrepreneurs in a classroom at Incubator Vista Ridge to meet with student startup leaders

The experience is based on the Lean Startup methodology and follows the curriculum from Uncharted Learning. Students go from ideation through customer research, design, finance, prototyping an MVP, promoting, pitching, and more. At the end of the year, students pitch their startup and have the chance to earn funding and move on to an Accelerator for their senior year. Those who do will form an LLC and launch their business.

These kids will be our next entrepreneurs, and it’s a great experience for mentors to help them work through the ideas they come up with and figure out how to set themselves up for success. If you’re in the Austin area, there are similar programs at other schools, and all of them need more volunteers. If your school or district doesn’t have one yet, this would be a great addition.