Shockwave: A Course for Social Entrepreneurs

/Shockwave: A Course for Social Entrepreneurs
Shockwave: A Course for Social Entrepreneurs2019-07-15T15:57:34+00:00

LEARNING OBJECTIVE:  During the Shockwave Young Entrepreneur Course, students will learn how to identify a social enterprise business concept, develop a revenue model, and tell their story effectively through creative writing, graphic design, and producing a basic TED Talk presentation. The ultimate purpose of the course is to take students through all of the basic steps they need to pitch their business ideas to investors and lenders.  Upon completion of their work, they will then be given an opportunity to visit with some of the most innovative business leaders from around the nation.

What is StandWatch Academy Shockwave?

StandWatch Academy’s Shockwave Course combines a workshop, classroom mentoring, networking events, and an educational travel experience that helps students develop innovative business models that can grow into successful start-ups.Many organizations help write business plans, hold competitions, and encourage students to think about how to start a business. They like to teach students with notional money that provides a great educational experience, but at the end of the day, has no connection to real-world opportunities. We  focus on not only helping young people innovate business ideas, but in cases where students are ready and have put in the necessary sweat-equity, we will create the support network that helps them get a real business off the ground.

The Shockwave Course begins with a workshop where students learn from a nationally recognized business model development program created by Dr. Ben Eng, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Marshall University’s Brad D. Smith Schools of Business. Dr. Eng’s “Find Your Drive” course helps students learn how to take innovative ideas and create sound businesses through design-thinking that can transform West Virginia’s economy. At the end of the workshop, students will have the beginnings of a business model that they will then go test, refine, and update moving forward.

Iterations and Forming a Business

Beginning a week after the workshop, StandWatch Academy’s founder, Zac Northup will visit with students on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to check on their progress and iterative business model development. He will also start the students working on a four-lesson online curriculum that will teach them the nuts and bolts of actually starting a business. These four classes cover:

  • Incorporation and business structure
  • Logo design
  • Web design
  • Presentation Literacy

In between visits, students will also interview potential customers, gather feedback on the business idea, and develop realistic financial data on start-up costs and revenue models that will generate at least $30,000 a year in revenue after launch.

Networking and Educational Travel

Students in rural areas and small towns are capable of generating world-class business ideas. What they lack, is access to a network of successful entrepreneurs and start-up capital.  The most critical part of the StandWatch Academy experience is centered around helping students develop a network of mentors from across the country who can help them get their business off the ground. What many people fail to realize, however, is that investment capital is almost always preceded  by the formation of a strong professional relationship between the two parties. Those relationships start with an introduction, a handshake, and a casual conversation about goals and objectives. The pitch comes later.  Inspiring students and creating solid business relationships is why we travel.  It’s critical.

Students must also believe in their ability to achieve goals, no matter what obstacle lies ahead.  Mental toughness is a trait common to all successful entrepreneurs.  Being a veteran-based organization, we know the best way to quickly teach a student that they are capable of exceeding their own expectations is by going on hikes and doing other activities outdoors. When a student hikes seven miles through the snow above 8000 feet in the Rocky Mountains, they quickly realize they are capable of doing a lot more than what they thought. The light bulb goes on and their mindset begins to change from “I can’t” to “I can”. This is why we incorporate outdoor activities into every expedition.

Networking, inspiration, and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. That’s the third phase of the StandWatch Academy experience.

Stage Four:  The Talk

After students return from the networking expedition, they will begin working earnestly on refining their idea and develop a 15-minute talk that they will give to a live audience in the spring of 2020.  The talk will not be a pitch of their business idea.  Instead, it will focus on the problem their business solves, and the ideas behind the solution.  Students will be provided with direct training on presentation literacy, and will spend approximately three months preparing their speeches. The end result is something remarkable.

Stage Five: Launch

By the end of their senior year, students will have a company that is capable of being launched after they graduate.  They will also have a network of mentors and supporters who will be able to guide them should they take this major step.  Some of these ideas may warrant support from outside investors.  It is up to the student to push themselves to reach that milestone.  If we see the drive.  If we see the dedication to work hard.  If the student believes in the idea and the economic model makes sense, we will continue working with the student to find supporters to help them get their business started.  No support is guaranteed.  It will only come if the student earns it.

We believe in the kids we work with. They can do this.


The academy is open to both boys and girls who are currently enrolled as high school (public, private, homeschooled). Because we work directly with schools to meet their requirements and demographics, standards will vary from location to location. Check with your school administrator for more specific information.  Each prospective student must complete an initial application to be accepted into the program. 

Pre-Course Videos

All students must watch these two TED Talk videos prior to attending the Shockwave workshop.

Reading List

If you want to get a jump on the academy experience, students should read the following book(s) prior to attending the course:

TED Talks: The Official Guide to Public Speaking