I just wrapped up another year of Camp BizSmart. For those of you not familiar with Camp BizSmart (campbizsmart.org) it’s a two week entrepreneurial camp for middle school students. Our flagship camp is at Stanford but we have camps and are less then a year away from launching in India, China, and Brazil. We just wrapped up the fourth year of the Hawaii camp. I’m going to share a slide from the camp that really resonates with me. (picture here) We show this slide in the first hour or so of the first day of camp. It’s just that important. I’ll talk about how this slide relates to the beginnings of The Box Jelly
Blame No One:
When we started working on The Box Jelly things were bad. The economy had fallen apart a little over a year earlier. I remember being in finance class listening to my teacher talking about the fall of Lehman Brothers as it was happening. We saw the fear in her eyes as she talked about what could be next. She was visbly trembling. I decided not to go after that job in finance and create something I felt was of real value. It was a scary time. Neither my partners or I knew what the future would hold but we were mad. Mad there weren’t more jobs in Hawaii so people could think of it as the best place to live… and work. We didn’t blame anyone though. Instead we set our to make a jobs for ourselves and help others who wanted to take this path too.
As I stated earlier we were fed-up with the idea that we couldn’t live and build a career in Hawaii. We now had a mission to build something to help stop this but we had a decision to make. To make a for profit or not for profit company. The thing that kept us on our relentless pursuit wasn’t the money but the mission. At the same time we wanted to make something that would last for a long time. Though cycles of good times and bad. Something that we could use to set our own course without the influence of all the things we felt were wrong with current models. We all had an aversion to taking handouts so we set out to build a sustainable business the best we knew how. It was hard at first we bootstrapped it with a summers teaching wages and part of a student loan. It’s still hard at times but our goal has grown from creating a sustainable business to one that creates prosperity for our circle.
I remember after a year of preparation I still didn’t feel ready to launch The Box Jelly. I was having a beer with a friend and respected entrepreneur, picking his brain asking for advice. As I was talking about our situation he stopped me and basically said. You need to sh!t or get off the pot. The Box Jelly opened less then a month later.
Work the way you live.