Six BUILD students from Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area recently gave an impressive presentation to the owners of the NFL teams and their invited guests as part of 1st & Future. The event, held the day before Super Bowl 50, was an NFL sponsored startup competition at the intersection of sports and technology, presented by TechCrunch in collaboration with the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
As BUILDers presented their businesses, they shared with the audience what BUILD has taught them in order to succeed, from learning how to push through tough moments – business or personal – to collaborating with colleagues for a better outcome.
BUILD alum, Herbert Castillo, brought home the impact of BUILD by sharing that the program had saved him. Through the resources provided by BUILD, and the understanding he developed of his own capacity to succeed, he was able to find success. With a scholarship to Babson College, he graduated in 2015, and today he is part of the team at One Degree, a San Francisco-based organization that creates tech-driven solutions to help overcome the challenges faced by families in need. One Degree was founded by a former BUILD staffer and Herbert has found an amazing home there.
The day’s events kicked off with inspirational speeches by Madhav Rajan, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, who shared their vision of how technology and innovation can change lives and change organizations.
Twelve startups presented their game-changing ideas to NFL executives, team owners, and investors. Each startup competed in one of the three categories: The Future of Stadium to bring the biggest impact at live, stadium sport events; Bringing Home the Game to change how we experience live sports broadcasts from home; and Tomorrow’s Athlete to have an impact on an athlete’s performance and safety. For each category, startups were competing to win $50,000 from the NFL Strategic Investment Fund.
In the audience, our high school BUILDers watched wide-eyed as the competing adult entrepreneurs took the stage to pitch to panels of judges that included the likes of: Dr. Condoleezza Rice, American political scientist and diplomat; Mark Parker, CEO of Nike; Jed York, CEO of 49ers; Lowell McAdam, Chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications; Jim Breyer, Founder and CEO of Breyer Capital; and Mary Meeker, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers. Students saw “the professionals” do just what BUILD has taught them to do and realized their entrepreneurial experiences are not simulations but real life!
At BUILD, we work with students from under-resourced communities who are at greatest risk of dropping out of high school. Often these are young people for whom education seems irrelevant to the reality of their lives, so we partner with schools, and teach BUILD students how to write business plans, prepare financials and pitch for funding. It’s a lot more fun to learn about math when you get to keep the profits you have made!
But becoming a BUILDer is not just about improving academic skills. It’s about learning and succeeding at those life skills that everyone hires for but few young people possess. We call these our SPARK Skills as they ignite the potential of youth: Communication, Collaboration, Problem Solving, Innovation, Self-Management and Grit.
As a testament to BUILD’s success, 97% of our seniors graduate from high school, and of those, 98% are accepted into college. We have incubated over 1,000 youth businesses and serve students in the Bay Area, Boston, and Washington DC as we launch BUILD in New York City this fall and Los Angeles in 2017.
The real-world entrepreneurship experience that BUILDers acquire is on par with those of the entrepreneurs who took the stage. Our students represent the future – a future built with an entrepreneurial mindset and a healthy dose of self-confidence; and one that also represents the diversity of our country.
Both the NFL and TechCrunch are enabling all entrepreneurs to pave new ways to success and innovation through events like 1st & Future.