Suncoast Business Studies and Digital Technologies programs recently collaborated to provide a unique learning experience – $50 B.O.S.S. (Business of Secondary Students). This entrepreneurial program parallels the shark tank concept, provides enterprise education, practical business experience within a Biblical context.
Shark tank gets flipped
Typically, school-based ‘shark” programs involve small teams who develop an idea over numerous weeks, eventually pitching their business plan to a panel of experts. Students often hope the experts will believe and invest in their idea and while some may be successful, it is not uncommon for students to be rattled by failure, potentially impacting their confidence. Rather than pressuring students into pitching business ideas within a quasi-Darwinian ‘tank’, we took our direction from Biblical business principles – flipping the conventional wisdom where students were provided with an upfront investment and we trusted them and believe in their potential and to multiply wealth, ideas and opportunity.
Using Parable of the Talents from the Gospel of Luke as the Biblical context of the unit, Suncoast Church Senior Pastor, Jonathan Gullo provided the foundation for the program. College Principal Mr Greg Mattiske then entrusted $50 VISA Cards to the students of Year 9 Digital Technologies and Year 9 Business Studies.
Freedom to express
During week one of the program students were given VISA cards and combined with our genuine belief in their ability, students were released and free to create. To ensure the students also learned the importance of accountability, the serial number and PIN number of each card enabled expenditure to be tracked and students reported regularly throughout the term on their progress.
Within the first weeks of the term, students absorbed the financial management wisdom of Ash Gullo from Brandon & Gullo Lawyers and successful entrepreneur, Deon List. Students also benefited from interacting with successful entrepreneurs and marketing experts; Caroline Carruthers from Decco Angel, Paris Ramsey from cocolou.life, Rob Scoates from Orange Sky and Suncoast Christian College Marketing-Communications Officer, Mark Beard.
Students spent several weeks researching and developing ideas and marketing strategies. This was followed by business planning for cash flow. While some teams relied on market stalls, others used social media to create cashflow. Some students used lunch hours or time available after school to undertake their business practice.
In Week 9 of Term 3, students presented their results in an informative yet entertaining presentation. Almost all teams recorded phenomenal growth and profit. The efforts of teams were remarkable and exceptional funds were raised to support charity.
The most pleasing outcome of this new approach to the business curriculum was the immeasurable benefits. Students shared insights into their encountered roadblocks, strengths and weakness of the team and personal learnings and discoveries.
At the close of the term, teams reported back to a panel of adjudicators – who’s constructive feedback was less ‘shark tank’ – more empowering. Students reported on how entrusted funds were invested and how much money was made. Regardless of the outcome, all students developed business and technical skills and an appreciation for the entrepreneurial life.
At the close of the term, initial investments were recovered, and teams made philanthropic investments. Donations were made to charities like; Compassion, The Starlight Foundation, World Vision and the Cancer Foundation. One highly successful duo, Cameron and Joshua donated their profits to struggling farmers. Other teams retained profits to be invested in future ventures.
$50 B.O.S.S. will operate again in 2020. The program will continue to thrive and forge a new frontier in entrepreneurial education and technological innovation. The program is grounded with a theological basis and this perspective provides a solid foundation that places students in good stead with acquired knowledge to embrace their bright future.