Young CNY entrepreneurs to learn, test business mettle at Syracuse University entrepreneurial bootcamp

Local high school students will have the opportunity to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit at the Student Entrepreneurial Experience (SEE) hosted by the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. The week-long event, held at the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) in Syracuse, begins Monday, July 23, and continues through Friday, July 27.  

The program will provide students with vigorous full-day training and mentoring as they learn to become entrepreneurs, develop business ideas, and compete against the business acumen of their peers.

“There is so much talent and so many good ideas coming from students in our high schools, and we want to help take that passion to the next step with this inaugural event,” said SSIC Director Bob Herz. 

Business start-up ideas, from the clean and renewable energy sector, will be assigned to the students to replicate what occurs in the real world, where individuals don’t always get to pursue their own business ideas, but instead must use their skills and expertise to make successful the ideas of others.

To qualify for the competitive program, students must be in their sophomore, junior, or senior year, and complete an application that includes a 200-word essay describing why they feel the experience would be beneficial to them.

“The Student Entrepreneurial Experience is the first part of what will be a continuous program for young people, from high school through college and post-college, and including those not going to college,” said Project SEE Program Director Margaret Butler. “It provides ongoing counseling, networking, and incubator office space. There is nothing like it in the Central New York area.”

Herz noted that a 2010 Harris Interactive online poll conducted for the Kauffman Foundation showed that 40 percent of individuals age 8-24 would like to start a business at some point, or already have done so, and that interest in starting a business is consistent among 8-12 year-olds (39 percent), 13-17 year-olds (39% percent), and 18- 24 year-olds (41 percent).

Activities for the week will include instruction on writing a business plan, how to run a business, money management, lessons learned from current college student and younger entrepreneurs at the South Side Innovation Center, and will culminate with a business plan competition on Friday. Each member of the winning team will receive a $500 gift certificate.

All SEE participants will be invited to entrepreneurship activities on the Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College, campuses and to credit-bearing entrepreneurship courses in their respective high schools.

The SEE is supported through a corporate charitable donation by the Philadelphia-based specialty retailer VILLA, and a grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Other sponsors for the program include Say Yes, the Liverpool Central School District, and the South Side Initiative.

The SSIC is located at 2610 South Salina Street, Syracuse. To learn more, visit or contact Margaret Butler at or (315) 443-8631.