Today we’d like to introduce you to Monica Lage.
Monica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
The idea for Break Into Business was born when I was a senior in college, studying business at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. During my four years in the program, I had completely fallen in love with the business, and was off to a great career in Management Consulting after graduation with a global firm, The Boston Consulting Group.
I was so glad that I had chosen to pursue Business but also knew that it could have turned out differently. Neither of my parents worked in the business world, and I’d had very little exposure to business before college. I had chosen business by default because I was good at math, but wasn’t interested in engineering. I realized that this was a huge problem – we needed to teach kids about business MUCH earlier. Not only did I believe that they would benefit greatly from the knowledge, I also knew that business could be so. much. fun. if taught right.
My best friend, Alyssa, and I got to work and convinced the Director of our Business School to let us launch a business-themed summer camp on campus. Break Into Business was born that summer with our first class of 30 students, and we fell in love. In the coming years, we both took time off of our demanding careers to travel back to our undergrad campus and run Break Into Business – our colleagues thought we were crazy to use our vacation to run a summer camp. This persisted for several years until I went off to Harvard Business School and Alyssa launched her own successful venture, Ratehub.ca. Although we stopped running Break Into Business, it stayed close to both of our hearts.
Fast forward a few years later… my husband and I moved to Atlanta and knew that we would be here for the foreseeable future. My first priority was to launch Break Into Business and see what would happen. Once again I used my vacation time to run a pilot program in the summer of 2013, and it was a hit. We have grown organically from there. In 2018 we will serve over 250 students age 9-14 in our summer B.camps and will also partner with several organizations who license our material to use with their own students.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One of my goals for my students is to teach them that entrepreneurship is “hard but worth it”. I don’t want them to walk away with a glamorized view of the process, so we are very intentional about letting them work through problems and fight their own battles. This makes their success all the sweeter.
In the same way, launching Break Into Business has definitely been hard but worth it for me. In the first year, finding kids to participate was a huge challenge – it’s hard to break into a totally new community! Finding the right venue partners is another challenge as we grow each year. Like every entrepreneur, I have good days and bad days. Ultimately when I see the success and progress of my students, I remember why I fight through.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Break Into Business – what should we know?
Break Into Business is an organization that coaches young people to launch real businesses. We are motivated by a belief that business unlocks potential in a powerful way. Our summer B.camps are our largest program. At B.camp, our entrepreneur’s age 9-14 move from idea to pitch to a profitable business in 5 short days. It’s an action-packed week with focused sprints on idea generation, market research, brand creation, promotional strategy, budget crunching, and going to market.
We also run an advanced program called the Accelerator. During this fall program, B.camp grads work on their next ventures. Our top 5 entrepreneurs from this group will pitch for $1500 in real funding at the High Museum on Sun 2/25 at our biggest event of the year: The Final Pitch. We also increasingly train rockstar educators in schools and other organizations to run Break Into Business programs with their own populations.
What makes us unique is our focus on doing things that are REAL. No business plan competitions at Break Into Business. Our kids are working with real money: swiping credit cards and pitching to investors for seed funds. Young people jump at the opportunity to do things that people don’t always think possible of a middle schooler. We provide the training, support, and environment, and they run with it.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We have had so many partners throughout this journey. Alyssa my co-founder is still involved as a thought partner and source of great encouragement. We have been a close member of the Plywood People community in Atlanta for over 3 years, and have benefited greatly from the connections and resources that they provide. We really couldn’t make Break Into Business happen without an incredible community of summer venue partners who have jumped in to support our mission.
This year’s list includes Atlanta Tech Village, the Chick-fil-A Support Center, Roam Workplace, Booster Headquarters, WeWork, ATDC @ Georgia Tech, ADAC Design Center, and Ponce City Market. Can you imagine more exciting environments in which to learn about entrepreneurship??
- Tuition for our summer programs ranges between $445-$470/week. We offer a limited number of need-based scholarships to motivated entrepreneurs.
- Website: www.breakintobusiness.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @breakintobusiness
- Facebook: facebook.com/breakintobusiness