By Hannah Rice

On Thursday, July 12, Winston Starts hosted students from the Wake Forest Leadership Institute Summer Immersion Program for an afternoon spent with our start-up founders. Each summer, the Wake Forest Leadership Institute offers a week-long program for high school students interested in enhancing their skills in things such as management, goal-achievement and cultural awareness. Their week is filled with a variety of workshops, lectures and hands-on experiences, and this year, a trip to Winston Starts was an exciting addition to their docket.

Winston Starts President, Steve Lineberger, has been involved in leading the Summer Immersion Program for the Business & Entrepreneurship Institute for the past three summers, and this year has offered to host both his program and the Leadership Institute in the Winston Starts space.

“I was very happy to host the leadership institute for a few hours to give them a real life encounter with the challenges of leading a startup,” Lineberger said.

Upon their arrival, students from the program gathered for some opening words and then broke up into groups led by several of Winston Starts’ cohort founders. Founders from the Feeling Friends, Kwikr, Nvolve, Resilience Gives, Solarte Collections and Wellnecity gave the high schoolers both a tour of Winston Starts’ collaborative, entrepreneurial space and an opportunity to learn more about each of their companies and their missions. In their break-out sessions, students were able to engage with the founders and learn more about leadership and problem-solving skills, as well as provide some perspective unique to their life stage.

Martha Benbow, one of the founders of Kwikr, found this perspective to be particularly helpful for her business.
“Our group consisted of seven young men from as far away as Philadelphia and Miami,” Benbow said. “They showed their interest in entrepreneurship by listening to our business proposition and brainstorming a marketing plan for Kwikr to reach its target audience, service technicians and local courier companies. We were very pleased with their contributions and proud of their efforts.”

Solarté Collections founder, Angela Jenkins, also thoroughly enjoyed her time spent with an all-female group of students from the Institute.

“All of these young ladies have incredible drive, intelligence, and problem-solving skills,” Jenkins said. “They truly know how to collaborate to get positive results while respecting each other’s different strategies. It was truly inspiring to watch them interact with each other, on real world initiatives.”

According to Lineberger, what makes experiences such as these so impactful is the students’ ability to learn about the world of entrepreneurship in-person and up-close, which is exactly what Winston Starts founders hoped to provide for this summer’s group.

“When [the students] come to Winston Starts, they are directly exposed to the life of a startup,” Lineberger said. “They can see the excitement and the challenges that a startup feels and faces every day. A description from afar does not even compare to an actual close encounter.”