Hiring High School to Launch a #Startup #Edtech Company

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ed's 6th Grade Class, 1964Image by euthman via FlickrWe all had high school projects. We may have had many of them. We may have loved them or hated them, but if we loved them or hated them, it didn't matter. We usually found the inner drive to get them done for some personal reason. There was usually some emotional light switch that we clicked on, during our process to getting the dang thing done.

An entrepreneur thinks a little like this. When he hires something to do a job for him, he's thinking in a much bigger way, in my opinion. He wants to use the thing he's using -- the Internet, for example -- to get the task completed. He hires the web to connect to his peers, to share ideas.

He does this, in high school entrepreneur Ben Lang's case, because as he attempts to hire school to get this done, the framework for school doesn't help him do just this simplest of tasks.

He begins to think bigger, to use the Internet he is hiring to solve this problem. He goes for it. He's in some ways going beyond his personal reasons and motivations for hiring. He's reflecting in his own work and his own use of the product a grander vision. Entrepreneurship is a gift. It's one of those happy accidents crafted with purpose.

That's true for Lang, who created an edtech startup called MySchoolHelp while trying to his notes for homework and read other notes to improve his GPA. At 17 years old, Lang hires high school to help him launch a web service that his friends can then hire to get done the job of improved school performance.

What I find remarkable here is that school was not serving the purpose it was supposed to serve. He had to create something to serve the purpose he needed. Fantastic. This young man may not know how gifted and remarkable he really is.

I interviewed him in Fast Company:
Do you think school as it is traditionally practiced stymies your efforts to be an entrepreneur? What about your schooling so far has helped you do what you want to do in this space?
Unfortunately at my school entrepreneurship was never even mentioned. I created a website for my school to find and share notes but that was the extent of entrepreneurship within my school. There was no economics class, although there was a very unpopular programming class.
Can you tell us a little bit about MySchoolHelp and how it started, and what you want it to be?
It started with RamazHelp.com, the note-sharing site I made for my high school two years ago. The administration was very supportive and now about 70% of the school relies on the site. I most certainly would have had a weaker GPA if not for RamazHelp.com and I want others to have the same opportunity. MySchoolHelp.com is an expansion of the site; it'll be built for all high schools in America and a few other countries. Our goal is to impact as many high schools as possible within the next few years.
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