Sioux City Career Academy students get entrepreneurial experience in classroom setting
Don’t be surprised if Christopher Verdin gives Starbucks a run for its money.
That’s because the West High School junior has hit upon the brilliant idea of starting a teen-friendly cyber-cafe.
In fact, Christopher didn’t just create the concept, he is also its ideal customer.
“I like coffee and I’m always on my computer,” he said simply. “Seems like a good idea to me.”
Christopher was one of the students enrolled in a Business Entrepreneurship class at the Career Academy that Sioux City Community School District business education instructor Chris Dicus has taught for the past six years.
“The class was started to give students a chance to conceive a business from the initial idea to a business plan,” she said. “During this entire process, they are getting feedback from fellow students as well as business professionals.”
In other words, this is like TV’s “Shark Tank,” only set in a classroom.
Dicus’ Business Entrepreneurship course has attracted kids with a variety of interests.
Some, like Daniel Nguyen, a North High junior, want to become second-generation business owners.
“My family owns a coffee shop, specializing in Vietnamese coffee drinks,” he said.
So, what is Daniel’s million-dollar idea? Starting up a business that serves high-end seafood but at a much more affordable price point.
“It will definitely be a casual dining restaurant,” he explained, already picking up a bit of business lingo. “I picture it as being a lot like Red Lobster, only with local ownership.”
Well, that may be the case initially. Daniel is not opposed to franchising his concept if it takes off.
“Wouldn’t that be nice?” he said, contemplating the thought.
This is exactly what Dicus wants her kids to take away from the class.
“There is a misconception that you need to be rich to start a business or that you need to know somebody important,” she said. “Anyone can start a business, no matter who they are.”
Josh Etherington isn’t sure if he wants to become the next Bill Gates. The Siouxland Christian Community School 11th grader simply doesn’t want to start adulthood tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
“College is expensive and I may not be able to afford it right away,” he said. “If I know more about business, I may be able to save money.”