Area Students Take Part in Ecamp, St. Francis College's Weeklong Bootcamp for Budding Entrepreneurs
Fifteen area high school and college students tested their business mettle at St. Francis College's second annual eCamp, a five-day bootcamp that exposes budding entrepreneurs to the nuts and bolts of starting businesses and culminates with participants pitching their business ideas to SFC faculty and guests who vote on their favorites.
Hosted by the SFC Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) from August 5th to 9th, this year's eCamp focused on social entrepreneurship. Students working in four teams were tasked with developing proposals for viable businesses that would also have positive social impact.
To help them prepare, eCamp provided a series of workshops, lectures and field trips.
eCampers toured Brooklyn's Industry City (IC) -- a sprawling new business complex home to SFC Innovate and many young creative companies -- and heard from executives there about IC's economic impact on its Sunset Park neighborhood and New York City. At Industry City, students visited Malia Mills, a swimsuit and lifestyle brand that runs course of trade, a non-profit that trains people in sewing and helps them get jobs.
This year's guest speakers included Ramel Bradley a University of Kentucky basketball star and current Community Director at AppHarvest, an ag-tech startup and Josh Dezil, a Management major/Entrepreneurship minor at St. Francis College who runs JD Bundles, a hair-extension company he founded.
"Entrepreneurship boot camps have become very popular in the last five years for this particular age cohort," said Eda Sanchez-Persampieri, CFE Director and founder of eCamp, which admitted students aged 16 to 19 this year. "Gen Z is very interested in being entrepreneurs and doing their own thing, whether it's a side hustle or whether it's something they plan on doing as their career."
Along with Sanchez-Persampieri, eCamp instructors included Dr. Michele Montecalvo, SFC Assistant Professor of Biology & Health Promotion and Marie Segares, SFC Assistant Professor of Management & Information Technology.
According to Joalta Vilsaint, a two-time eCamp participant who will start her first year at Medgar Evers College in September, eCamp has fueled her entrepreneurial dreams. "I definitely want to start my own business. I even want to start my own hair product brand or be a real estate agent," she said.
The businesses that the student teams proposed addressed food waste (a company called Share & Cycle), healthcare for homeless people (Health for Good), student loan debt (StudentSave) and excessive force by police (From Enemies to Friends). After a close vote by 40 judges, Share & Cycle was selected the winner.
Next summer's eCamp will focus on main street businesses. eCamp is free and open to all eligible students. Those interested in enrolling should contact Eda Sanchez-Persampieri ([email protected]).