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Entrepreneurial learning experiences on-demand



VentureLabs are out-of-school workshops for middle and high school students that focus on developing specific aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset while weaving in core academic content. This allows students to see real-world applications to what they are learning in school and how to use that knowledge to contribute to their success as an entrepreneurial thinker.

This winter, we will launch a set of learning modules for educators to easily incorporate entrepreneurial thinking into the classroom. If you're interested in learning more, or piloting a learning module with your students, please email us here.


Entrepreneurship education on demand.

Opportunities to unleash your entrepreneurial mindset are around every corner. That's why we've developed a suite of workshops, activities, and learning modules to aid in students' development as entrepreneurial thinkers no matter where they are. Right now, our VentureLab pop-up classrooms take place after school at the SAY Detroit Play Center and we look forward to hosting more VentureLabs across the city very soon. If you are interested in participating in a VentureLab, please email us here.



Scroll down to learn more about what happens during our VentureLabs. We have held nearly 25 VentureLabs to date and we picked some of our favorites to share with you. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out

Winter/Spring 2018 Series


Generating Great Ideas

VentureLab students learned how to find inspiration for entrepreneurial opportunities in their day-to-day lives. They started by learning how comparative adjectives can serve as a foundation for entrepreneurial value-creation and then reflected on their own lives to find opportunities to create value. The lab concluded with a mashup activity where students combined household objects to create something new in the spirit of synergy.  


Fall 2017 Series


Understanding the Entrepreneurial Mindset

In our first VentureLab of the fall season, we worked with a group of 15 middle school students to explore the entrepreneurial mindset. We then took a deep dive into two specific domains of the mindset: Creativity & Innovation and Communication & Collaboration. Students exercised their creativity skills by participating in a set of creativity challenges, inspired by IDEO. We then embarked on a journey across a "river," where teams had to exercise their teamwork and communication skills to make it safely to the other side.


Opportunity Recognition

In this week's VentureLab, students were introduced to entrepreneurial thinkers from the crew of Apollo 13 and the team behind Conserve India to explore how opportunities to innovate can be found in unexpected places, and adding value can be done in unconventional ways. We then went back nearly 150 years to do a close reading of a text by Hans Christian Andersen called "What One Can Invent" — a story about a poet struggling to find inspiration for his work. Although the story dates back to 1869, there are still a variety of lessons for young entrepreneurs to learn about recognizing opportunity.




This week, our young entrepreneurs learned the science of cookies by watching this TEDEd Animation and formulating their own cookie recipe based on the properties of each ingredient in a standard cookie batter. Following a discussion of what it means to add value as an entrepreneurial thinker, students used their newly developed knowledge of cookie chemistry to craft the perfect cookie and develop a pitch for why their cookie was better than the rest.


Summer 2017 Series


Intro to Entrepreneurial Thinking

The umbrella served as inspiration for our first VentureLab of the summer. Students were challenged to think of how to improve the umbrella experience for a variety of user groups.

This VentureLab was all about introducing students to the entrepreneurial mindset. We used the following essential questions to guide learning and develop a foundation that will allow us to continue to grow as entrepreneurial thinkers in the coming weeks:   

  • What is an entrepreneur? What is the entrepreneurial mindset?

  • What are the components of the entrepreneurial mindset? Why is each important?

  • Who are some entrepreneurial thinkers in Detroit? What do they do, and what impact have they made on the greater community?

  • How can individuals strengthen their respective entrepreneurial mindsets?



Detroit Entrepreneurial Expedition

This week's VentureLab took the form of an entrepreneurial expedition to downtown Detroit. Students had the opportunity to meet local entrepreneurs, explore co-working spaces, and gather inspiration for their own ventures. The essential questions we pondered during the expedition were:

  • What are entrepreneurs doing in Detroit?

  • What opportunities are available to people with entrepreneurial ideas in Detroit? How do unique physical spaces contribute to entrepreneurs' ability to do what they do best?

  • Why is Detroit a great place to be an entrepreneur?

  • How is the entrepreneurial ecosystem contributing to the Detroit economy?

Where We Went/Who We Learned From:


Understanding & Identifying Opportunities for Innovation

Students used the context of "reimagining the high school experience" to guide their empathy-building work during this VentureLab. Techniques for spotting entrepreneurial opportunities were then introduced to encourage students to identify aspects of their own school experience ripe for innovation.

VentureLab students were equipped with the tools and tactics to begin turning problems into possibilities. Using empathy maps and higher-order questions, students gained an understanding of how to trace users' challenges to their root cause and clearly articulate problem statements before attempting to tackle an issue. The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

  • What is innovation? Why is an entrepreneurial mindset essential for innovation?

  • What are strategies for turning problems into possibilities?

  • How can you best gain an understanding/empathy for the people for whom you're solving a problem? Why is this step essential to the entrepreneurial process?

  • What are strategies for building empathy and understanding potential users/customers?



Brainstorming and Creative Solution-Seeking

Sticky notes were a-plenty during this VentureLab where students learned tools and techniques to perfect their brainstorming and creative solution-seeking abilities. Students were equipped with the tools and skills necessary to lead an effective idea-generation session and were challenged to think outside the box to stretch their creativity muscles through a variety of creative-thinking games throughout the lab. The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

  • What are effective ways to develop creative, boundary-pushing ideas?

  • How can potential solutions be generated with user/customer needs in mind?

  • Why is goal-setting an integral part of the brainstorming process? How can brainstorming goals be set?

  • What parameters are necessary for effective brainstorming?



Prototyping and Learning from Failure

The prototyping phase of the entrepreneurial process is prime time for failure—and that's a good thing!

The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

  • What is the value of prototyping in the entrepreneurial process?

  • What are methods of effective prototyping, and how do these methods play into developing a solution?

  • Why is the prototyping and feedback phase cyclical?

  • Why is important to iterate on ideas?

  • How can we shift our mindset to see failure as an opportunity for learning, rather than defeat?



Turning Ideas Into Action

Students built, tested, and improved paper airplane designs to put the feedback loop into practice.

The following essential questions were used to guide students through this stage of the entrepreneurial process:

  • What is the feedback loop and why is it important?

  • Why is a personal pitch an essential tool for entrepreneurs to have?

  • Why is the entrepreneurial process circular? What happens after the 'launch' phase?

  • Why should an entrepreneur's work never be done?



Entrepreneurial Sprint

In our final VentureLab of the summer season, we challenged students to reimagine the traditional lemonade stand through an entrepreneurial "sprint." Teams were given just 75 minutes to use the knowledge they've acquired over the past six weeks to develop innovative solutions and they certainly rose to the occasion. We're incredibly proud of this group of students for their hard work and we can't wait to see what else they accomplish through their high school career. This group of entrepreneurial thinkers is going places!