Recognize these girls? They’re the ones from Fargo South High School, and are probably some of the biggest (and youngest) cheerleaders for Fargo’s entrepreneurial scene. We wrote a few months ago about their passion for entrepreneurship, and their desire to host a big event that could communicate that passion to other local high schools. Last Thursday, January 29, their hard work came through and they held the first ever Be Bold Conference 2015.
The girls are a part of DECA, a worldwide non-profit organization implemented in high schools and colleges with a mission to create young leaders and entrepreneurs. Every year, DECA members split into a team and focus their free time and efforts into a project that they are passionate about. This year, Anna Benson, Neha Patel, and Lydia Hanna chose to do an Entrepreneurship Promotion project.
The Be Bold Conference was named after a conversation the girls had with Dr. Wells at 1 Million Cups, where he encouraged them to “be bold.” Sixty high schoolers, from every different high school in the Fargo-Moorhead area were present to experience the event. (They had more dying to sign up, but they had to draw the cut off somewhere!)
The girls took turns emcee-ing the event, kicking it off by handing out red beanies emblazoned with the words “Be Bold.” In all honesty, they’re some pretty snazzy headwear.
Next, in a brilliant move that of course high schoolers would think to do, they requested everyone add the Snapchat user bebold2015, where they could then upload their snaps (photos and video) from the entire event. This resulted in a multitude of hilarious photos from throughout the event which every student with a Snapchat could watch on their smartphones.
The audience then listened to a talk from Emerging Prairie co-founder Greg Tehven and Myriad Mobile CEO Jake Joraanstad on what entrepreneurship looks like in real life, why you should follow your dreams, and whether or not there are 8 or 9 planets.
“We’re in a time where Fargo is changing very quickly and you get to be a part of it,” Tehven said. “You don’t need a hall pass, you just need to start solving problems.”
With that the students were whisked off for a grand tour of some of Fargo’s downtown gems. The day included three main stops: a tour of Intelligent InSites, where they saw cutting edge technology at work in the healthcare industry; CoCo Fargo’s collaborative work space where they wrote their names on the whiteboard walls, learned about entrepreneurship from Myriad Mobile’s Jon Walters, and talked with Fargo Startup House resident Trent Cahoon about his work with virtual reality tech; and Myriad Mobile HQ, where they got the official Kingdom Tour and both designed and presented their own ideas for mobile applications to a prestigious panel of judges.
Lunch fell somewhere along the way, and was provided by Scratch Deli, Spicy Pie, and Sweeto Burrito. The lunches were fully funded by a donation to the project from the Greater Fargo-Moorhead Economic Development Corporation. Thanks John Machacek!
Afterwards, everyone reconvened at the Fargo Theater, which also opened their doors for the event, and the students filed off into their big yellow school buses.
I snagged a few students before they left and asked what they thought of the event. They thought it was “very informational,” and said their highlight from the event was the exercise at Myriad Mobile, where groups picked three words and had to develop an app using those words; the ideas ranged everywhere from a video game app involving sharks, castles, and toilets, to an Ice Breaker app complete with a library of cringe-worthy pickup lines.
Looking back on the event, the team’s leader, 15-year-old Neha Patel, said she thought it went “amazingly.”
“My hope is that students came away from this event with a renewed sense of what it means to be an entrepreneur,” she said.
Photos courtesy of Marisa Jackels and Neha Patel.