Preparation for Life: Teaching the Entrepreneurial Mindset


Preparation for Life: Teaching the Entrepreneurial Mindset

For Emily Naing, the YELL began as a whisper.

Naing was a high school student in Coquitlam, BC, when posters piqued her interest in a new course being offered. The course was one of many facilitated by YELL Canada (Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad), a charitable organization based in Vancouver that works to encourage “the development of the entrepreneurial mindset in our young leaders, who then apply what they learn to any career or post-secondary path that they choose,” according to David Cameron, YELL’s Executive Director. The program supports teachers and school districts, facilitating partnerships with local businesses in order to bring the community into the classroom.

Even though she had applied, Naing admitted she wasn’t that interested in the course to start with. A self-described by-the-book perfectionist, it took the series of guest speakers, all local entrepreneurs, to really motivate and inspire her. Now, Naing says that the program has changed the way she pursues new ideas – things that she might have said were too hard in the past have become challenges to be tackled. “Nobody knows everything and making mistakes is a way to learn and grow,” she says, “Failing forward taught me so much about myself and how to plan my future. It ensures that I am constantly growing and becoming a better citizen, learner, and thinker.”

YELL staff & Directors

• Staff and Directors of YELL Canada. L-R: David Cameron, ED; Co-founders Rattan Bagga, Amit Sandhu, and Punit Dhillon.

While it is sometimes the result, Cameron emphasized that the aim of the YELL program is not to create youth businesses. “We’re not just targeting students interested in business, we’re looking those interested in the arts, music, the sciences, engineering, coding, and athletics,” he explained. “We’re all about connecting students to mentors and helping them hone their creative and critical thinking, re-spark their curiosity, increase their confidence, overcome the fear or rejection, build a more positive persona and culture identity, and gain a better sense of how the world operates.”

Naing’s YELL group came up with a product to help combat teen sleep deprivation through the use of binaural beat technology. The pillow helps the sleeper transition to restorative sleep faster, “making those four hours the best four hours of sleep possible,” she said. Their business plan won the district’s 2015 YELL Venture Challenge, where students showcase their projects and compete.

Naing says that the program has not only helped her to feel more prepared for post-secondary and a career, but for life in general. This is no small feat when the BC Ministry of Education’s satisfaction survey results indicate that only 40% of 2014/2015 grade 12 students felt prepared for post-secondary education and 24% for the job market.

Naing went on to co-found Swave, a startup based on the ideas generated through YELL. She has also recently won the $24,000 Scrymgeour Scholarship in Entrepreneurial Management and will head to the University of Toronto in the fall. In October, Naing will be a guest speaker alongside BC Premier Christy Clark and “Dragon” Nicole Verkindt at BC’s We for She Conference, sharing her experiences to inspire women from across the province.


• Students watch a team present at the 2016 YELL Venture Challenge.

The project-based, hands-on experiential learning of the YELL program facilitates assessment based on participation through discussion and reflection as well as the final outcome students present at the Venture Challenge. Their idea doesn’t need to be “good” but must demonstrate the application of the principles taught, including providing a solution to a real-life problem. YELL is looking to improve this model, perhaps through a software like the QUIO Learning Map, which would better reflect the learning process encouraged by the program.

For more information about YELL Canada, visit weyell.org.

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