EDWARDSVILLE – Southern Illinois University Edwardsville is offering a new summer camp experience for high school-aged students interested in entrepreneurship. The SIUE Summer Entrepreneurship Academy, a five-day camp, will give ninth through 12th grade students an opportunity to work on the technical and interpersonal skills necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. The camp will end with the students pitching a business idea to a panel of local entrepreneurs.
Katherine Robberson, an instructor with the SIUE Department of Management and Marketing, explained that there are other programs similar to the SIUE Summer Entrepreneurship Academy offered across the nation. “The one closest to us is at SLU,” she said.
Robberson also explained how the SIUE camp would operate.
“Students participating would be placed in teams and challenged to find an innovative idea to build a business plan and pitch,” she noted. “It’s going to focus a lot on how you take this idea and turn it into a business. Whether it’s a service project, a product, something that is a non-profit, or something related to a cause. It doesn’t really matter what the idea is. It’s more about the process of turning it into something viable.”
She also emphasized that the students need not come with a business idea in mind but just with an entrepreneurial spirit.
The camp takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the SIUE campus from June 18 to June 22. During the week, the campers will spend the morning with current SIUE faculty learning about marketing, and financial planning for a business.
“We’ll also look at how you research your customer, how you research your marketplace, and we’ll teach them business planning strategies,” Robberson said.
“Then in the afternoon they’ll do a lot more hands on application and team building,” she added. “We will be working in teams to making these ideas flourish.”
The students will take two field trips during the camp. One will be to Code 3 Spices, based out of Collinsville.
“It’s a local startup that has grown wildly. So the students will get to see kind of the production side of entrepreneurship, and they are actually going to serve students lunch,” Robberson pointed out. “They are going to barbecue and show the students the process of these dry rub spices that they make and manufacturer in Collinsville.”
Robberson said that the second filed trip will be to T-Rex, an entrepreneurial think tank in St. Louis.
“So they’ll get to see what it looks like when entrepreneurs sit down, strategize and brainstorm and also what that creative side of entrepreneurship looks like,” she noted.
The week-long experience will end with a pitch competition to a panel of local business owners and entrepreneurship experts. “If they watch ‘Shark Tank,’ it’s less brutal but similar in nature that by the end of the week, they will have a practice pitch and they will deliver that pitch to a panel of local entrepreneurs who will give them feedback in a much more kind way. But they will also walk away with a business plan and some understanding of what it really takes to get something like this off the ground,” Robberson said.
The camp is working with the Small Business Development Center which is also housed at SIUE. “We are partnering with them so they will come in and do some of the guided business planning with the students too,” Robberson added. “So the students will really get to work with current local experts in the area with starting a business.”
The SIUE Summer Entrepreneurship Academy costs $350 for the week-long camp. Some scholarships are available via an application. Information about the scholarship application process as well as registration for the Summer Entrepreneurship Academy is online at