Is ISB’s Entrepreneurship Class Worth Taking?

November 5, 2018

Envision a tiny seed, growing and blossoming into a tree. That seed being a single product idea, growing into a larger company, blossoming into an innovation which changes the world. ISB’s Entrepreneurship class is unlike any other course offered at this school, giving students the opportunity to become the CEO of their own company at the juvenile age of 15.  

The idea for the Entrepreneurship class emerged several years ago when teacher, Laura Fairbairn, proposed a class where everyone collaborated with each other to build a company together. However over the years, Mr. Hansberry (World Studies/Entrepreneurship teacher) inherited her initial proposal and tweaked the class so that students have the ability to start their own private companies, furthermore allowing multiple companies to emerge from the class and compete for funds.

One of the most exciting aspects of the course is ISB’s Shark Tank, modeled from the reality TV show “Shark Tank” which has recently been added onto Thailand Netflix. The TV show allows budding entrepreneurs to bring their dreams to fruition, encouraging viewers to follow their ideas and help advance our world through the development of innovation.

Mr. Hansberry compares the event to a sports game, an arts production, a forensics and debate event and mentions, “the piece I personally enjoy the most is how genuinely unscripted yet influential the event is.  The students and the Sharks have never met, and 90 minutes later, a whole new direction for the rest of the course is set. That kind of authenticity is hard to come by both in schools and in life beyond schools.”

Logistically, this incredible event involves an abundance of planning and support from numerous people. In particular, the fantastic “sharks” who agree to invest in companies upon their discretion. In the beginning, the PTA funded the course for the first two years, which is why Mr. Hansberry tries to have at least one member from the PTA be apart of the investors team. Luckily, ISB has a surprising number of parents and alumni who make a living as professional venture capitalists, those individuals are reached out to as well.

Through the development of ISB’s Entrepreneurship class, Shark Tank is annually recreated in in the MPB 1. This year’s Shark Tank took place on November 1st, where students put into practice all the blood, sweat, and tears they had spent preparing their pitches and working hard on their companies. All students recited their pitches exceptionally, however ultimately only four students got funded, and three offered a contract with the PTA.

Jeslyn Brouwers and Orisa Thanajaro (10) founded a company which promotes biodegradable plastic, in efforts to limit the damage which we exert onto our environment. In the end they received 4000 Baht, in exchange for 10% equity in their company. Alongside Todd Amatyakul (10) who founded his company “Imaginator” allowing children to use their creativity for educational purposes. Todd received 8000 Baht in exchange for 8% of his company. In addition, Rhea Kapoor, Pomme, and Front (10) all received a joint contract, where the PTA will buy 350 of their products to form a gift for the ball which will take place at ISB on December 8th. Along with Hannah Paps, who received 1000 Baht in exchange for 1% equity in her shoe refresher company.

Alongside that, Kana Takechi (12) who received 9800 Baht in exchange for 10% of her company, which aims to reduce the amount of plastic we use with a practical reusable bag which folds up to the size of a pocket! Check out her Facebook page- My Marine! Kana mentions, “It has been such a valuable experience as I had the chance to turn my ideas into an actual product in just  three months. I learnt a lot about real life business and cannot wait to see what the next six months will offer me!”

It has been such a valuable experience as I had the chance to turn my ideas into an actual product in just  three months. I learnt a lot about real life business and cannot wait to see what the next six months will offer me!”

— Kana Takechi

Rhea Kapoor remarks, “There is no other course like Entrepreneurship at ISB. It sounds like quite an easygoing course, until you’re in too deep. No one can prepare for anything because no one knows what will happen throughout the year, but the class is truly exhilarating.”

The experiences which students go through in this course, is unlike any other course. Mr. Hansberry adds, “many of my most powerful teaching experiences at ISB have emerged from students in this class making themselves vulnerable, accepting the imperfections which often arise, and basking in the successes that they made happen themselves.”

Special shout out to Jaden Cilliers (10) and Axel Nyborg (10) for distributing and selling personalized bucket hats (?). Hit them up for some unique headwear.

Mr. Hansberry took the time to give me some incite on the behind the scene, logistical work that has to be put into an event as extraordinary as ISB’s Shark Tank. Mr. Hansberry mentions, “educationally, we have designed a series of experiences for the students, knowing they will get a real sense of what entrepreneurs do, all without controlling their decisions.  It’s both scary and exciting.” Working alongside Mr. Harvey and the appropriate school administrators, the ISB staff do their best at the best experience possible to all the students involved.

The students have established legitimate companies to the point where the school now has a legal “umbrella” covering these companies in case something quickly grew to the point where legal paperwork or tax papers were necessary. In addition, parents who are lawyers have also provided critical advice at times.

Last year Shubha Narayan (11)  and Ava Alam (11) presented alongside professional companies at a high profile competition and almost won. Proving the potential which several ISB students possess. Mr. Hansberry elaborates, “simply by putting themselves in that situation and carrying themselves so professionally, they had already won several times over.  I’ll never forget it…and neither will they.”

simply by putting themselves in that situation and carrying themselves so professionally, they had already won several times over.  I’ll never forget it…and neither will they.”

— Ken Hansberry (Entrepreneurship Teacher)

 

In my personal opinion, ISB’s Shark Tank was definitely worth watching. Possessing the ability to encourage my friends to pursue their passions was truly liberating, and I feel privileged to watch students live out one of their happiest memories of High School. For any budding entrepreneur, wishing to pursue anything business related outside of school, the Entrepreneurship class is most certainly worth your time. Good job to all our entrepreneurs, and I look forward to seeing the future of your company!  

 

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