VentureLab Spark Program to provide mentorship and seed funding to help youth entrepreneurs scale up their businesses

VentureLab Spark Program

VentureLab is proud to announce that its new Spark program is underway, designed for youth entrepreneurs, ages 8-18, who want to start their own business and are looking for resources to help them get started. For those accepted into Spark, VentureLab provides a three-month mentorship program and up to $500 in seed money to help the business get started or scale up. 

“VentureLab looks to inspire the entrepreneurial mindset in students, and now through Spark, we’re helping students bring their prototypes and ideas to reality with their own business,” said VentureLab executive director Julie Shannan. “We’re giving students extra support with materials and mentoring, especially families that can’t afford to spend extra money on a new venture.” 

Students from 8 to 18 are encouraged to apply for Spark on the program’s official website, https://venturelab.org/venturelab-spark/. Each student accepted into the program is paired with a mentor, and works with that mentor to assess the current business and how best to scale up. Students in the Spark program learn financial literacy, market research, and get paired with a successful entrepreneur for a one-on-one mentoring session. 

“Spark is about giving students an opportunity to practice being an entrepreneur. We help them take their ideas, fund needed startup materials, scale their business idea, and teach them how to budget for growth and profits,” Shannan noted. “It’s valuable practice for learning how to run a business, giving them the confidence and support to take the first steps at bringing their good ideas into real-life businesses.” 

VentureLab’s inaugural Spark class included 13-year-old student Niya, who will complete a three-month journey to build up her Gloss Up by Niya, the lip gloss company she started. 

“I came up with my business because I’ve always aspired to the mindset of having my own business,” she noted, adding, “And I LOVE lip gloss! I thought, why not try to make my own products and do it better AND make money at it?” 

Spark’s first entrepreneur mentor was 14-year-old Mikaila Ulmer, who created a lemonade for a children’s business competition when she was just four years old, leading her to found Me and the Bees Lemonade. Her company now sells five different varieties of lemonade across the nation in stores like HEB and Whole Foods. Mikaila, like Niya, also created a lip gloss line as part of her entrepreneurial journey. 

Donors will be able to help directly fund materials for a Spark student to help accelerate a business’s idea and development, and donors meeting VentureLab’s criteria for mentorship will be able to mentor the students they fund. To participate as a donor, mentor, or in both roles, go to the Spark page on the VentureLab to get started.

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