iStart Jax recently graduated the first class of young entrepreneurs from its new Entrepreneurial Mindset program. iStart Jax put 23 young adults through the inaugural class and has a long-term objective of producing 1,000 entrepreneurial minds, together with Kauffman Laboratories for Enterprise Creation and local corporate sponsors such as Florida Blue and The Jaguars Foundation. An idea conceived by MJ Charmani, Chairman of iStart Jax was put into action in less than 3 Months with the support of the community. “Students have talents but they may not have had an opportunity to express themselves,” iStart Jax President Yash Nath said. “This is the chance to express themselves.”
Participating student Monica Myrick, a senior at Andrew Jackson High School, wants to use her passion for acting to create positive entertainment choices for teens. “If I put out something good, you’ll see more people evolving into something good,” she said. The first class culminated with a graduation ceremony at Andrew Jackson High School on May 24, at which participating students Trevor Wright and Shodai Williams received Kindles as prizes for their projects.
Wright’s idea revolved around solutions to headphone issues and Williams’ focused on improving student engagement within high school English classes in urban communities and Title 1 program schools. “It’s personal to me because I love learning,” said Williams, a junior at Andrew Jackson High School. “When I don’t see my peers taking advantage I wonder why and think about what can I do to open their eyes.”
Nath was the lead instructor for the five-week program, whose topics included empowering choices, creating opportunities, goal setting, growth strategies, wealth creation and brand building. “To be successful, you have to act,” Nath said. “Applying the skills they learned increases their chances of succeeding.”
Guest speakers included entrepreneurs Noah Solheim of Fitness Jax and Cherry Dougherty, who also is a corporate trainer at Acosta. Solheim and Dougherty shared how they overcame adversity and persisted with their passions to start their own business. Students Aditi Verma, a fifth grader at J. Allen Axson Montessori School, and Niharika Malviya, a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School, spoke about the power of entrepreneurship and adhering to one’s convictions. Verma also shared how she and three other students started with an idea and converted it into a product applying the same principles as entrepreneurs. “She clearly demonstrated having the entrepreneurial mindset,” Nath said.
Andrew Jackson High School volunteers who supported the entrepreneurial education program included Jennifer Crady, Addison Davis and Travis Pinckney. Volunteers from iStart Jax and supporting organizations included Joan Carter, MJ Charmani, Ramana Murthy, Jonathan Raiti, Jon Sykes, Pavan Varshney, Gina Wardell and a young volunteer – Vatsal Nath. “You guys are the beginning but not the ends by any means. This is going to be wildly successful in the Jacksonville area,” Wardell told students, noting how the lessons they learned would help them in their careers. Sykes said, “It’s not impossible. It’s something that can be done by anybody. You just have to work.”
Charmani, chairman of iStart Jax’s, urged the graduates to be “ambassadors” for the program, encouraging other students to participate. “This how we can help take the community to the next level,” he said. The next set of E-Mindset classes will be held in the fall and prospective participants, volunteers and donors can get more information at www.istartjax.com. Also, a video, "Did you know?", has been compiled to create an awareness of the State of Entrepreneurial Education for young adults and its impacts.