(Guest blog by Courtney Shelton, Director of The Space to: Impact program)
In two overlapping three-day sessions, almost 60 liberal arts students from a multitude of majors have taken their ideas for a social entrepreneurship project or a business and:
- applied the principles of design thinking to their idea
- worked it through the business model canvas
- developed their pitches.
In just three days, these students took an idea and made it a viable, sellable concept ready to seek funding and supporters. (Impact and Launch students don’t just develop a plan, they actually execute them and have fully operational businesses and completed social-entrepreneurship ventures and projects as full-time college students.)
Add in a variety of fun ways to keep ourselves caffeinated and you get why we call it Cram.
A year ago, our training was largely focused on idea generating and stopped there. We set the stage for big ideas. Then we spent the year teaching them to develop and execute business plans as well as how to communicate the impact from their projects or businesses through storytelling and pitch.
This year we knew we wanted to go deeper and cover more ground early to help students better develop their businesses and projects. (Starting a business or creating a project aren’t all that different…they both require an idea, awareness of resources needed, and the ability to convince people to support you in your endeavor with time or money.)
Because students are…well, students, with a lot of pressures and multiple responsibilities competing for their attention (none of our students get course credit for their work), we also needed a symbol to serve as a reminder of what we are aiming for this year: helping them see through firsthand experiences that it’s worth it to try to accomplish something big and crazy even if you aren’t guaranteed success.
And, that a life characterized by hustle (a ridiculously trendy word in the startup world, but so perfectly fitting), will always be worth it because of the adventure itself.
Oh…and that you can do all of this and have more fun than anyone else while you do it!
We want students to understand they are capable of doing great things now, while they are in college; not just after they graduate. We asked ourselves, as the leaders of this ship, what banner could we wave so that the students would know to follow the way? What image would conjure the entrepreneurial spirit we’re trying to instill in them?
We chose a Space Pirate, of course.
(Not where you thought I was going with that, right?)
Let me explain: We want our students to aspire to have a pirate’s sense of adventure coupled with an astronaut’s sense of exploration.
Astronauts set goals beyond what they know for certain they can achieve (you know, like walking on the moon). Astronauts take risks, explore new frontiers, and push past traditional boundaries to boldly go where no one has gone before. There’s something to be said for shooting for the moon.
And then there’s the pirate’s life. (Yes, yes, I know pirates were, and still are, criminals, but we’re ignoring that to focus on the romance of the skull and crossbones symbol.)
Who hasn’t dreamed of a life of adventure on the high seas? Of being part of a culture that disregards the confinements of convention and disrupts the accepted system? Of joining a band of pirates governed only by a pirate’s code, free from bureaucracy by honoring a high level of responsibility to one another. They work hard and play hard together. Their culture is vital.
As Steve Jobs said, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to be in the navy.”
I would argue, it’s more fun to be a Space Pirate than to be anything else.
Stay tuned for more about what our Space Pirates in Impact and Launch are working on this year. I feel confident it’s worthy of the flag we are waving.