Young entrepreneurs hold promise of a bright future

It’s sorely tempting for members of one generation to dismiss members of a younger generation as generally possessing less of the skills or work ethic required to achieve success. It’s easy to stereotype the younger generation as too obsessed with smartphones, social media and video games to ever amount to much.

It’s ridiculous, of course, but a fallacy that’s perpetuated for just about forever. Some members of older generations who justifiably consider themselves important contributors to society probably were once ridiculed as those long-haired hippy types listening to rock’n’roll music.

For those willing to take notice, there are notable examples that not only contradict this kind of misguided thinking, but blow it to smithereens. This issue of the Business Times includes stories about those examples.

Two of those stories introduce readers to the latest graduates of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy in Grand Junction. For those who might not know, the academy turns middle and high school students into the CEOs of startup ventures. They come up with new products and services, write business plans, pitch their ideas to investors and develop their brands. In other words, everything older entrepreneurs under take. By the end of the program, participants oversee fully functioning enterprises they can continue to operate if they choose.

Nick Silzell, one of the members of the latest graduating class of the academy, recently returned from Rochester, N.Y., where he qualified for the finals of the national Young Entrepreneurs Academy competition. While he didn’t win, Silzell’s venture was selected for the people’s choice award and Silzell received $20,000 in college scholarships. By the way, Silzell serves as CEO of Sleepy Sheepy, a company that uses bamboo fiber to manufacture unique pillowcases with hot and cold sides. Not too shabby for a 12-year-old sixth grader.

But all of the participants in the program are impressive in terms of the products and services they’ve developed along with their business acumen. They recognize problems that need solving and the opportunities that arise to do so.

Another story in this issue of the Business Times reports on the efforts of a group of older students — this time five students taking an advanced marketing course at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. The five students are scheduled to compete in the finals of a national marketing competition. The contest will test the ability to develop integrated plans to educate students on the role of natural gas and oil in their daily lives. The CMU team came up with an augmented reality game mobile application as the heart of its campaign.

CMU students long have fared well in the competition, a reflection of the quality of the business program at CMU in general and ongoing efforts of professor Tim Hatten in particular.

Congratulations are in order for the students who graduated from the latest class of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy in Grand Junction. By learning how to turn good ideas and hard work into businesses, you’re all winners worthy of admiration. Congratulations are in order as well for the CMU students, along with well wishes for their continued success in the competition.

Perhaps this country isn’t headed to hell in a handbasket after all. One of the few things that can help to counter the cynicism associated with the sad state of political leadership in our country is the prospect of bright and energetic business leaders eager to solve old problems in new ways. Thank heavens for the younger generation.