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The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at Culver Academies.

Through our program in The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur, we aim to provide Culver students with a deeper understanding of creativity and innovation in the marketplace.

Recently, I had the honor of hosting The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur at Culver Academies’ third annual business idea competition, The Next Launch. At this event, students from across the Midwest came together to share their ideas for businesses that hold the potential to impact society. 

This is the third year for the competition, and each year the students become more polished, their presentations more impressive. What does change? The business ideas these high school students present continue to be some of the most innovative and intelligent concepts I’ve ever heard.

Some of the students approach the competition with a “Shark Tank” mentality, as they have already started their company as teenagers and are hoping to win The Next Launch’s top prize of $25,000 so they can further invest in their ideas for growth and development. Others have a hunger for making a difference in the world and are eager for feedback to take their big ideas to the next level.

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We aim to make The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur the model for entrepreneurial studies in the 21st century. Through interaction with successful entrepreneurs, a college-level curriculum, field trips to exciting destinations, and challenging competitions like The Next Launch, students gain a greater appreciation for the magic of the entrepreneurial spirit.

At The Next Launch, judges are university-level entrepreneurship professors, business leaders and innovation experts. By giving the opportunity for feedback and collaboration with these leaders, students are able to grow their skills and think critically as they develop ideas.

The school’s namesake, Ron Rubin, a graduate of Culver, is an entrepreneurial visionary himself. Mr. Rubin comes from lineage that has been in the beverage business for generations and purchased the Republic Tea company in 1994, sparking a specialty tea revolution.

People like Ron Rubin know they are role models. It’s important that all business leaders feel that way though, no matter if you own the company, founded it or are a manager. I’ve personally witnessed students expressing their admiration for up-and-coming startup founders who have little name recognition, but are pushing innovative ideas. As they say, talent recognizes talent.

It’s the responsibility of current business leaders to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs. Get involved with student business idea competitions. Serve as a mentor. Demonstrate positive work ethics. Give advice. Share your time. You never know — you could be cultivating the next big entrepreneurial idea that changes the world.

Alex Kurrelmeier is the director of The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur at Culver Academies. The opinions are the writer's.

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