Hi, Sarah! Thanks so much for joining us today! I am so excited that you’re our DotW because your business is so up DCYE’s alley! Tell us about yourself!
Super excited to be here! I’m fairly new to DC and have been looking for a community of awesome young entrepreneurs. I knew it existed and am thrilled I finally found it! I’m incredibly impressed with the entrepreneurial community that is starting to skyrocket here in the District.
Up until I was 19 years, 24 days and 58 minutes old, I thought being an entrepreneur meant that I had to have a crazy high-tech idea that would become the next Facebook, Microsoft, or Google. It was overwhelming, and I immediately wrote off entrepreneurship as a career option.
I didn’t realize that being an entrepreneur actually meant creating a job for myself that allowed me to take charge of my future and unleash my passions and skills in a way that would fulfill my potential in life and make a lasting, positive impact in the world.
Then I read a book about how entrepreneurs were changing the world through something I had never heard of, social entrepreneurship. After that, I booked a one-way ticket to Uganda to start a project that taught the basics of entrepreneurship to young people and how they could use those principles to achieve anything they wanted in life. One year later, the Sarah Green Scholarship for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship was created as a result of my entrepreneurial endeavors.
I’m scared to think what would have happened if I hadn’t read that book or tested out entrepreneurship for myself in East Africa. No one else in my life—parents, teachers, friends, etc.—was an entrepreneur or even talked about it in a realistic way.
That’s our mission with my company, Empact (www.iempact.com)—to be that same spark for a whole new generation of young people.
I am so excited about Empact. Everything you do from the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour to the Empact Summit is amazing. Can you tell us about Empact and how DCYErs can get involved?
Sometimes Empact can get confusing because we do so much within the entrepreneurship education realm. So, let me try and boil it down for you and give you links to our different programs if any of them catch anyone’s interest.
At Empact, we’re trying to create a culture of entrepreneurship in communities around the world. That means that we’re trying to shift people’s attitude towards what entrepreneurship is and the power that thinking entrepreneurially can have on someone’s life.
We aim to do this by exposing young people to entrepreneurship, celebrating top young entrepreneurs, and bringing in the most influential leaders from the world who are also working to make entrepreneurship a viable career option for young people.
Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour (www.extremetour.org)
We’ve brought the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour to over 500 locations all over the United States. We just had our first international event in Lima, Peru. The Tour is a high-energy event that seeks to expose young people to entrepreneurship. We bring some of the country’s top young entrepreneurs on Tour with us who are under the age of 30 and have either made or sold their business for over $1M in revenue. Our mission with the Tour is to bring in young entrepreneurs as speakers so that they can connect with young people who may have never considered entrepreneurship as a career path and inspires them to take action on their entrepreneurial goals while learning how to believe in themselves at a deeper level.
The Empact Showcase is a compilation of the top entrepreneurs in the US age 30 and under with revenues under $100,000. It’s a testament to the impact entrepreneurs make on our economy and an inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Empact100 List recognizes the top 100 of the companies in the Empact Showcase. In 2011, the inaugural list of companies was recognized in a ceremony at the White House for their achievements. Combined, the 2011 Empact100 List of companies contributed over 2,700 jobs to the economy and controlled $374 million in revenue.
Applications for the 2012 Empact Showcase close on August 7 (kat’s note: that’s today!!!). To apply, go to www.empact100.com/application
Empact Summit on the Future of Entrepreneurship Education (www.empactsummit.com)
The Empact Summit is a prestigious, invite-only collaborative gathering featuring the most influential leaders in the youth entrepreneurship ecosystem (from government, foundations, education, corporations, media, entrepreneur support organizations and entrepreneurs). The vision of the Summit is to help make entrepreneurship a viable career pathway, and in doing so, help solve the jobs crisis. The Summit is a collaborative, action-oriented experience where each delegate (not just the speakers) is an invite-only influential leader from the entrepreneurship ecosystem chosen for his or her proven impact and innovativeness. The 2012 event will be September 26-27 and hosted at the US Chamber of Commerce.
We just read The E-Myth as our book club book, and I know that Michael Gerber was a speaker at your last summit. Who is one of the best entrepreneurial speakers that you’ve ever heard and why?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I’ve heard so many entrepreneurs speak and to me, the “best” means that they resonated the most with what I’m passionate about. In that case, it was Jaqueline Novogratz, the Founder of Acumen Fund and author of The Blue Sweater. Jacqueline is my #1 source of inspiration – she completely disrupted the approach to enterprise-based solutions to poverty. The Acumen Fund has now invested more than $75 million in 70 companies in South Asia and Africa, all focused on delivering affordable healthcare, water, housing and energy to the poor. These companies have created and supported more than 57,000 jobs, leveraged an additional $360 million, and brought basic services to tens of millions of people. Her work is one of the best examples I’ve found of thinking differently through entrepreneurship and literally changing the world for thousands of people working their way out of poverty.
Everyone at Empact is a super-trep and has won countless awards and accolades for their work both with and outside of Empact. I know how discouraging it can be for young entrepreneurs when they feel like they are working incredibly hard and no one ever notices. What advice do you have for young treps looking for more exposure for their work?
This is honestly one of the best questions I’ve ever gotten and it’s so true—there are so many highs and lows as an entrepreneur. These can’t be avoided and in the end, it’s all worth it (or at least so far)!
As entrepreneurs, we work literally 24/7 and as much as we believe in our mission and work tirelessly to pursue our passions, it’s incredibly important to get the reinforcement that you’re doing a good job and that your work is making a difference in someone’s life. I get those moments a lot when I freak out and say, “What am I doing with my life?!” And then I get an email or phone call from someone who’s been a part of one of our programs testifying how much it’s made a difference in their life.
Each and every entrepreneur has gone out on a limb and taken a huge leap. This cannot be taken lightly and needs to be celebrated and acknowledged on a daily basis. DCYE is a great example of a way for young entrepreneurs to get the spotlight and recognition they deserve.
I hope that by allowing opportunities through the Empact100 and the Extreme Entrepreneurship Tour, we at Empact can make more opportunities like this available for those who are chasing their dreams, putting everything on the line, and making a huge impact in the world by being entrepreneurs.
Sarah, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us! And everyone, don’t forget to check out the Empact100 app and either apply or send it to someone who should! And if you don’t qualify this year, write Empact100 on your goal board, and you’ll get to the White House in 2013!