In college, Cristal Glangchai, founder and CEO of VentureLab, went into the mostly male-dominated field of mechanical engineering. After college, Glangchai founded a company creating nano-particles that could help treat lung cancer; while doing investor pitches in New York and San Francisco, she realized she wasn’t meeting many women investors or CEOs of tech companies. InVentureLab.org’s “Meet the Founder” video, Glangchai says, “That started to bother me.”
Those experiences gave rise to her desire to start making a difference. In 2013, she founded VentureLab, a hands-on innovation and entrepreneurship program that teaches young people—both girls and boys—to be next-generation innovators and entrepreneurs through inspiration, experiential learning and mentorship.
“Most girls—really, most children—aren’t told they can start a company,” says Glangchai. “I only knew it was an option because my father was an entrepreneur. I created VentureLab to tell kids, starting at five years old, that using their creative ideas to start a business is an option for them.”
VentureLab serves both girls and boys, but has a special focus on empowering young women to develop their interest in technical and entrepreneurial fields—and to succeed in these fields. That’s why VentureLab has created a friendly environment where girls can discover their potential through creating and innovating.
“Five seems young to some people to teach kids to become entrepreneurs,” Glangchai says, “but I believe that it’s the best time to teach them. At VentureLab we tell kids they can do anything—design apps, build things, start their own companies—before they get into junior high.”
Spots are still available in Austin’s summer camps! Each week-long program is offered Monday through Friday from 9 AM–3 PM, with extended-care options from 8–9 AM and 3–4 PM. Each camp is offered to three age groups—children ages five to seven, eight to ten, or 11 to 13—with curriculum tailored to each age group. All camps are hosted at Valley View Elementary or Hill Country Middle School in Eanes ISD.
This summer’s Austin camps include:
- Gamer — July 6–10: “Your child will learn everything from game design and development to market research and sales; we show your gamer how to use start-up skills to follow their passion!”
- Youth Startup — July 13–17: “Teams gain hands-on experience starting a business. Students will brainstorm product ideas, develop prototypes, design a website and enhance their public-speaking skills.”
- Maker — July 20–24: “Robots, 3D printers and circuits galore! If your child is hands-on and loves to tinker, we can show them the exciting new ways that entrepreneurs use technology to solve real-world problems.”
Glangchai notes that “VentureLab’s curriculum is based in science and core educational classes that students need to learn. We deliver it all in a fun way and with an entrepreneurial twist; kids grow to see themselves as business leaders.”
Everyone knows the global marketplace has become increasingly competitive; currently in the U.S., entrepreneurial efforts are responsible for 60–80% of all new jobs created. But being an entrepreneur is about more than just starting your own business. Entrepreneurs must be able to anticipate and identify diverse societal needs and create products and services to fill those needs. That’s why critical and innovative thinking are such important skills to develop in young people.
Much has been made recently of STEM topics and subjects in school—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—as the STEM occupational fields are some of the fastest-growing and most competitive fields globally. VentureLab has taken the STEM model and enhanced it with its own ESTEAM framework, providing young people with experiential learning in Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. The VentureLab approach helps students gain experience and focus their thinking in entrepreneurship, creativity, technology and design.
VentureLab’s weekly summer camps in Austin run from July 6 through 24. Now’s the time to register your kids, so they can begin experiencing the entrepreneurial mindset and seeing themselves as innovators, both now and in the future!
Catherine Avril Morris is a romance novelist, freelance writer, mom and wife living in southwest Austin, Texas. Check her out on the Web at www.CatherineAvrilMorris.com
This post was sponsored by VentureLab.