Business In the Making

Startup Moxie is an entrepreneurship class for junior and senior high schoolers around the South Bend area.  This year, participants consist of students from eight different local high schools.  If we were living in a normal time, students would go to local businesses in the area and take tours, listen to guest speakers, and have class in the RISE building. However, the restrictions due to COVID-19 have forced Moxie students to learn online.  Throughout the year, students come up with a business idea, and formulate a business plan for their idea, with real-world numbers; cost of goods, labor costs, and other business expenses. 

Current Moxie student Natalie Moore offers this advice for students interested in participating, “Just because you don’t have a business idea doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it! And it’s still a great class even if you don’t want to go into business.  Definitely look into it because it’s a real world class and doesn’t feel like a classroom setting.  The structure gives you a lot of freedom.”  

 Natalie wishes to pursue a degree in business, and therefore made the decision to participate in Startup Moxie her senior year.  She explained that, “With the first semester coming to a close, I’ve already learned so much from this program.  It has enabled me to develop professional skills that I will carry with me to the workforce.  It is engaging and beneficial, and I feel very comfortable studying business, knowing I will have a head start because of Moxie.”  

A day in the life of a Moxie student consists of a variety of different activities.  The students have been able to listen to guest speakers over Zoom to further their knowledge on entrepreneurship.  Natalie said, “The guest speakers we have are young entrepreneurs in the South Bend area. They talk about their story and how they got to where they are today. We are able to learn life lessons, what different career paths or business structures would look like, and include them in our network.”  Developing these professional relationships as a high school student gives Moxie participants the opportunity to create a network early on in their career.  Not only do the guest speakers give students insights regarding entrepreneurship, but also teach important life skills regarding communication, professionalism, and relationships with those in the workforce.  

This year, in the Startup Moxie program, students have focused on mindfulness and applying that to their business model and their life. Class discussions are very common based on articles students read or TED talks they watch. From these discussions, students are able to develop class themes and values and tie that into their class routine. Moore says, “Earlier this year, we were put into groups for a design sprint. This means we only had a few weeks to go through the Innovation Process to create a business idea and pitch it to the class.” 

When considering Moxie, students might be concerned about homework or not being able to balance school, Moxie and other extracurriculars.  However, there isn’t that much homework.  Moore said, “We do a lot of the work in class and wrap up the week with a journal entry due on Sunday. There we go through our week with the highs and lows to see what we need to improve on and what to continue.”  These wrap up activities allow students to reflect on the skills and activities they have been participating in for the past week, and how they can improve and grow as a person.  

Tessa Berente, who is also a Saint Joe senior, and Natalie Moore are partnering together to formulate their business plan.  They are designing a platform emphasizing female empowerment. “Society’s view of success, rooted in stereotypical misogyny, does not allow young girls to understand the value and power they have in the business world.”  Berente and Moore are still in the discovery phase so they are not 100% certain of the final concept, but are planning on creating a website which will be supported by additional social media presence. Moore says, “In the website, we will include interviews we hold with women around the community. From this, young girls can see representation of women in high position jobs and listen to advice they give.” 

This is just one example of how students are able to create a personalized business plan that involves their own interests, and use Moxie as a platform to develop and grow on their business idea. The course, available to seniors and offered since 2014, includes students from local high schools. Check out the website for more information about this opportunity.