- By Sherrie Negrea
- Around Town
When Gavin and Adley Hoffman bought a drone four years ago, they began using it to videotape waterfalls, parks and lakes around Ithaca. The brothers thought of turning their videos into a business, but they didn't know where to start.
A year later, they enrolled in the Youth Entrepreneurship Market (YEM), a program in Ithaca that teaches students in 4th to 12th grade the nuts and bolts of starting a business. They found their first client at an outdoor market organized by the program, and their business, GA-Studios, was launched.
"We learned how to make a business plan, how to budget, how to get known in the community, and how to keep surviving as a business," says Gavin, 17, who has continued to run his videography startup with his 12-year-old brother. "It was a good boost to get our business going."
The videography venture is one of several successful businesses students in the region have created after participating in YEM, sponsored by New Roots Charter School. On March 7, YEM will return to Ithaca with a series of five workshops for students on everything from idea generation to financial literacy.
At least 10 local entrepreneurs will share their experience at the Saturday morning workshops, helping students learn about starting and running a business. The first four workshops will be held at REV Ithaca Startup Works, where students will develop their businesses for the market. Alternatives Federal Credit Union will host a fifth workshop about financial literacy and future planning.
The program culminates with a series of fours outdoor markets for the students to sell their products, beginning on May 16th on The Commons during the Rootstock Youth Music Festival, also sponsored by New Roots Charter School. The youth markets will then move to the Ithaca Farmer's Market at Steamboat Landing through August.
YEM was cofounded in 2016 by Michael Mazza, whose daughters had asked him how they could expand their driveway lemonade stand, and Ethan Ash, an Ithaca entrepreneur who wanted to connect youth with local entrepreneurs for training on starting a business. Since the program a year later, more than 150 students have participated in YEM.
"YEM is a great representation of the type of education offered at New Roots, where students are empowered to use their entrepreneurial thinking to be problem solvers in the community," said Mazza, director of community engagement at New Roots Charter School.
This year, organizers of the program are encouraging students to consider the social impact of their businesses in the community. In past years, students in YEM have donated a percentage of their profits to organizations such as the SPCA and the Tompkins County Public Library.
"We've tried to instill in the kids a sense of social responsibility and social impact through the program," Ash said. "It's not just about making money. It's the power that making money can have and the power that their ideas can have in shaping the world around them."