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What's Your Excuse?

Thom Ruhe, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Kauffman Foundation

We recently hosted the inaugural class for the Ice House Entrepreneurship Education Program. The program coincidentally started just as the debt ceiling debacle was playing out in Washington. There was a shared moment of awareness that maybe those we feel should be making the economic ecosystem a better place for entrepreneurs were in fact incapable of doing so, and even doing things that were self-destructive; a reality driven home by the subsequent credit downgrade by S&P.

Reflecting on many of the experiences captured in the program, of people overcoming hardship and adversity and uncertainty, to build a better future for themselves by pursuing their entrepreneurial passions, participants started challenging some other long-held beliefs and assumptions surrounding the practice of teaching entrepreneurship. Many of the would-be Ice House facilitators started realizing that it is time to change their own thinking about promoting and supporting entrepreneurship. They further realized that no one, the Kauffman Foundation included, has a magical formula to guarantee success or is capable of predicting who is best suited to realize start-up stardom.

And so it was on the heels of this inspired kickoff for a program that we genuinely feel will redefine entrepreneurship education that I was presented with a perfect example; an example that entrepreneurship is simply a mindset that can be embraced by everyone. It is the story of first grade student, Connor Zamary and his Toaster Pop application. You can see his investor pitch (that's right, a genuine funding pitch by a 7-year-old) here. His app is on sale in the iTunes store with sales already popping in from around the world.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to say that Connor has the good fortune of growing up in a household with a successful serial entrepreneur father, which undoubtedly has infused young Connor with the confidence and guidance that all entrepreneurs need from time to time.

But his adventure still stands as a great example of embracing an entrepreneurial mindset and certainly should be a wake-up call for all aspiring entrepreneurs that are waiting for 'something' before starting.

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