Building Austin's Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Happy Hour

Student INC is Austin’s youth entrepreneurship (YE) ecosystem champion working to ensure that every single youth in Austin has equal access to entrepreneurial learning opportunities. Even in the best school districts across the nation, the penetration rate on entrepreneurial education rarely exceeds 2%, even though 70% of students indicate an interest in starting their own business. And only 24% of 1312 business leaders surveyed believe that high school youth have adequate preparation for entrance into the entrepreneurial economy, which is accelerating at a rapid rate around the globe.

Student INC is on a mission to ignite and align the YE movement in Austin, establishing our community as the YE capital of the world.  As one of the world’s fastest growing entrepreneurial hubs, Austin is the ideal environment to build a robust and collaborative ecosystem that prepares our local youth, regardless of age, background, gender, race, or socioeconomic status, for our local innovation economy.

That’s why a group of Austin’s entrepreneurial leaders gathered at Meet At Relay, the meeting space at The Center for Social Innovation, which is designed to maximize impactful collaboration. Monday night’s goal was to address the major challenges that three Student INC Partners face in their shared missions to engage Austin’s youth in entrepreneurial learning.

Meet JA, VentureLab, and Start-Up! Kids Club

Last night we were introduced to Student INC Partners Amber Wakem of Start-Up! Kids Club, Kristin Gossett of Junior Achievement of Central Texas, and Cristal Glangchai of VentureLab.

The three nonprofit leaders shared the stories of how they became inspired to make a difference in the YE ecosystem here in Austin, and from there, the attendees broke out into three groups to work with a Student INC Partner and a Notley facilitator to tackle each organization’s toughest challenge. The challenges included achieving sustainable funding for scale, increasing the diversity of Austin’s YE mentor pipeline, and engaging the local community in support of YE. Each group brainstormed resources, opportunities, and ideas for overcoming obstacles and the Student INC Partners left with connections and strategies to address their challenges.

Those in attendance have taken an active interest in expanding the reach of our local YE nonprofits and programs, and in removing barriers to entry for interested youth. Many of the entrepreneurial leaders who were in attendance are members of the Student INC Founders Circle, a strategy board and annual giving network dedicated to supporting the YE ecosystem.

Thank you to the entrepreneurial leaders and Student INC Founders Circle members who joined us last night to celebrate some amazing organizations and brainstorm solutions to scale their missions in a powerful and dynamic way.

To learn more about getting involved with Student INC and the YE ecosystem, email Kelly Ballard at


Shaping the world by cultivating entrepreneurship to broaden youth perspective and enhance life skills through community connection and experience. Start-Up! Kids Club provides incredible opportunities to interested children by empowering them to bring their ideas to life with real time goals, deadlines, and opportunities.


VentureLab is a nonprofit organization that is helping create the next generation of innovators and changemakers through entrepreneurial learning. VentureLab was founded in 2013 to teach kids, and girls in particular, to dare boldly and grow their innate creativity in order to identify and anticipate diverse societal needs, and think entrepreneurially in whichever field they pursue.


Junior Achievement inspires and prepares young people to succeed in a global economy through volunteer-led, experiential learning. JA is  dedicated to providing a positive, enriching learning experience free of bias. JA connects education to real-world concepts to heighten students' appreciation for academics and long-term aspirations, and infuses business connectivity into all aspects of learning to deepen students' understanding and sustain engagement.


Student INC is Austin’s youth entrepreneurship (YE) ecosystem champion working to ensure that every single youth in Austin has equal access to entrepreneurial learning opportunities. As part of the Notley family, Student INC is tapping into Notley’s social impact and entrepreneurial networks to build an aligned ecosystem that brings high-quality entrepreneurial education and experiences to even more kids in Greater Austin, especially among low-income and minority populations.

To learn more about Student INC, subscribe online.

For additional social impact resources, sign up for the NotleyEDU newsletter to stay in-the-know about upcoming events, videos , and podcasts.

Check out  JA of Cenral Texas, VentureLab, and Start-Up! Kids Club to learn about the other ways that you can get involved with these innovative organizations.


Book Meet At Relay for $1,000 for all evening gatherings in October. Includes a 10-hour rental period plus post-event cleaning and on-site venue manager.

Check out photos from the event:

Briana Loeb