Do you want to be a job giver or seeker — that is the first question Naeem Zafar (in photograph above), the man behind the TiE Young Entrepreneur (TYE) program run by TiE Silicon Valley, asks his students in the program.
TiE SV runs several programs for adults, but what makes TYE even more interesting is that it caters to entrepreneurs not just in high school but middle school as well.
Zafar, who started the TiE SV version of TiE Global’s TYE program in 2016 along with other TiE SV members, told indica News he felt his children, like many of TiE Silicon Valley member’s children, were not as inclined toward TiE as they should be.
The TYE program has two objectives. One is to set the entrepreneurial mindset early and soon as high school and have young people be aware what options are possible.
The second goal is to make TiE relevant to young people, not just to the generation that founded it is now 60-year-olds.
After he sold his company Bitzer Mobile to Oracle in 2013, Zafar had some time. He started thinking about what he could do to engage the youth with the TiE.
“After selling the company I was looking for a personal mission. We have missed one generation and we wanted the next generation to find TiE relevant and useful,” Zafar said.
“We wanted parents to bring their children to TYE programs and engage with the community. We thought we were losing our relevance.”
The TYE program engaged parents who wanted their children to learn entrepreneurship, public speaking and leadership skills.
Zafar, a serial entrepreneur and TiE Silicon Valley charter member, teaches entrepreneurship and strategy in the SCET (Sutardja Center of Entrepreneurship & Technology) and at the Fung Institute of Engineering Leadership at the University of California, Berkeley.
Zafar, an alumnus of the University of Minnesota and Brown University, said he was hesitant earlier to enroll middle schoolers, but a few of them were much smarter than average high schoolers in terms of focus, work ethic and desire to learn.
So the TiE Leadership decided to start TYE university, and although it is not an accredited school, the programs are gaining momentum and attracting students by pulling everything entrepreneurship-related together under one umbrella.
“We now see there is a lot of enthusiasm, and parents want their kids to be involved, “ Zafar said.
The classes used to be held during summer camps, whole day programs from morning to late afternoon in a fun-loving environment that provides entrepreneurial exposure to alternatives to get a job.
Now the program has been expanded and includes a six-month program that meets twice a month from October to April.
Participants get to learn from successful Silicon Valley venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, who provide the edge needed to accelerate careers into the world of entrepreneurship.
“Look, entrepreneurship is a mindset, and it’s a ladder,” Zafar said. “None of the kids are going to quit their job, but by exposing them to several guest speakers and other executives, entrepreneurs and different ways of thinking, when they graduate, they will have an expanded mind.”
Students learn about the various stages of product development from ideation all the way to launching a product.
In addition to learning how to create, start and run a business, participants also learn valuable skills such as developing an entrepreneurial mindset, leadership, communication, public speaking and team building.
Students work in teams to pursue a startup idea and pitch it to investors in the spring. The program culminates with a business plan competition, where the winning team from each chapter goes on to the TYE Global Competition to compete for $10,000 grand prize and a lot of mentoring.
“I change my examples so that these young budding entrepreneurs can relate to the situation,” Zafar said. “I use the example of starting a coffee shop. They learn the concept of market segmentation, selecting a business model, doing market research, and creating a financial model.”
“The idea is to inject the thought process of how a businessperson will look at an opportunity, even build an income statement, and see if the business make sense. These are 8th and 9th graders, but they get it and they do a great job,” Zafar said.
The program is run by volunteers, and entrepreneurs who teach students are trained, when necessary, in techniques to impart their knowledge in ways that will connect to studentsr.
“Part of the whole exercise of course is discovering, thinking in a profound manner what they want,”Zafar said.
“Some students don’t take it seriously, but it changes their mindset. It also helps them start their journey in the right direction.”