Scott Gerber – Young Entrepreneur Council
#StartupLab is an online program where startup luminaries can share their lessons learns, advice, and wisdom to aspiring young entrepreneurs during interactive live video chats. It is put on by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only, nonprofit organization founded by serial entrepreneur Scott Gerber to address youth joblessness and underemployment. Members are promising young entrepreneurs that use the platform as a place to interact, network, exchange ideas, ask for help, and discuss relevant issues.
Gerber ran a highly lucrative business while in college…until it completely collapsed. Not one to be deterred, he persisted down the entrepreneurial path, sleeping on many couches along the way. He ultimately created a name for himself within the tech community as a writer, chronicling life in the trenches as an entrepreneur. In 2008 when unemployment was at its worst, Gerber wanted to do something more to help. He tapped into his network, organized events, and set off a small organic movement that ultimately became a fully-formed organization — the YEC.
The YEC connects hundreds of young people with successful entrepreneurs from all industries in an effort to usher in a new wave of business leaders. Its stated mission is to “retool and retrain the current workforce into a more entrepreneurial one by putting the resources aspiring entrepreneurs need to thrive directly in their hands — thereby empowering them to create thousands of new businesses (and jobs).”
Mentorship has long been an important part of a flourishing startup ecosystem, and Gerber said he feels a responsibility to impart this knowledge to young people. Whether due to aspiration or necessity, entrepreneurship is taking off, Gerber said in an interview. Moreover, entrepreneurial education makes you more employable, he said. It helps you understand critical thinking, how to create opportunities for yourself, and is a valuable insight into how fast the world is changing.
Gerber was fortunate to have a group of understanding and influential mentors that helped him get back on his feet. Not everyone has the same ability to find strong role models, and #StartupLab strives to break down the barriers make mentorship as easy and accessible as possible. Every week, a successful entrepreneur takes the digital stage and conducts a live chat on a topic of their choosing. The interactive sessions are delivered for free on Facebook to both individual members and participating organizations that broadcast these chats to their communities. Tens of thousands of people have tuned in to catch the pearls of wisdom dropped by some of the world’s top entrepreneurs.