Seven first-year student entrepreneurs were invited to present at this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Symposium, each with an idea to add value to Chatham Hall, the local Town of Chatham, or a specific community in the U.S.
From local small batch honey to a new performing arts and concert venue, a retro diner-themed eatery to a local thrift shop, the students presented their ideas to the School community after determining a need to be fulfilled.
Uniquely designed by Director of Entrepreneurship Beth Barksdale for Chatham Hall, the School’s Global Entrepreneurship program is a two-year program that ensures students have a hands-on learning opportunity to create value in their school, their local community, and the wider world. In each of these experiential locations, first year students identify and validate a viable business idea, develop and present a comprehensive business plan, and determine how to move the idea forward. Having mastered the skills of ideation, planning, and pitching, second year students actually launch and scale their own businesses, pivoting as needed to achieve product-market fit and long-term sustainability.
Since the entrepreneurship program was launched in 2019, four value added programs have been implemented at Chatham Hall, seven student businesses have been successfully launched, 41 unique proposals have been developed to enhance the town of Chatham, Va., and student entrepreneurs have purchased and branded their own food cart, Bite of the World. Additionally, the students started the $ Club, also known as the Money, Money, Money Club, consisting of student investors and business leaders that also support student-run businesses on campus.
Barksdale created the curriculum for the program, teaches the classes, and serves as a personal consultant to students who have launched their own businesses. Her former career as a CEO of a national healthcare company enables her to bring practical experience into the classroom, while also helping students develop the initiative, confidence, and leadership skills to be successful in the future.
“I absolutely love working with our students to help them discover their true passions, and then working with them to cultivate an idea that could make a positive impact in our world,” she said.
Tracy Tian ‘24 says of the program, “Learning entrepreneurship as a high school student prepares us for future experiences in society, and no matter what major you study or career you choose, the skills we develop such as communications, public speaking and proposal writing will always be beneficial.”
Vicky Gao ‘24 loves that she can use her creativity and imagination in the class as a way to combine her interest in music and business. “This program makes me feel like nothing is impossible!”
Eve Dunnagan’s ‘23 favorite aspect of the class is “Case Study Fridays” which give students in the program the opportunity to fully explore a company with products available in the market today.
Congratulations to the presenters at this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Symposium!
Heidi Bernal ‘23, Fine Arts Building Renovation
As an extension of the Living Well initiative at Chatham Hall, a renovation of our fine arts building ensures we have a fully equipped center for arts, culture and community to support and enhance student talent.
Milan Berry ‘23, Be(e)yond Honey
A local, small-batch honey production company offering a wide range of products including honey and bee-based skin care products made with different properties of the honeycomb.
Stephanie Cano-Barranco ‘24, Chatham’s Eatery
A retro diner-themed family friendly restaurant serving delicious and affordable American food in an accessible downtown location.
Eve Dunnagan ‘23, Chatham Thrift Shop
A thrift shop in Chatham, Va. offering affordable and stylish clothes with a unique exchange point system that ensures repeat customers and student volunteers.
Vicky Gao ‘24, FeMuse Studio
A music center in Springfield, MA focused on girls’ musical development through a unique mentor program, private and group lessons and a studio hall that builds confidence via live performances.
Lily Shaheen ‘23, HeART of Virginia
A non-profit performing arts and concert venue hosted in Chatham to bring together community support for the Dan River Haven House via a bi-annual family-friendly fundraising event.
Tracy Tian ‘24, Dream Space
A magical education center located in the Town of Chatham that provides extracurricular art classes and activities for local children under 12.
Tina Zhang ‘23. Oak Tree Cafe
Named after Chatham Hall’s legendary Oak in the Meadow, Oak Tree Cáfe is a student-run, self-brewed cáfe, including but not limited to various kinds of coffee drinks and baked goods.
Many thanks also to Tina Zhang ’24, a second year Global Entrepreneurship student, who provided an infomercial for the Oak Tree Cafe, a student run business on campus funded and supported by the $ Club.