The Aftermath of UpliftingT-shirts.ca | eps 40 #InTheLab

“It worked, it really worked!”

We went into this class not knowing what to expect. It was my first time teaching entrepreneurship and I wasn’t going to pass up an opportunity for some hands on learning!! A few weeks back before we started UpliftingTshirts.ca I filmed this #InTheLab episode asking the question, how do you teach entrepreneurship?  At that time I had no idea what would happen with our newly founded company disguised as an experiment disguised as a class.

A business disguised as an experiment disguised as a class

Why did we start a company?

Well I thought the best way to show my Admin 224 class what Entrepreneurship really is. No book can do it justice. They needed to ” experience” running a company, making sales, and dealing with failure.

At the start of the semester they decided UpliftingTshirts would be a perfect vehicle to carry out our social enterprise experiment. We had a guest talk from Tyler Gray from Carmichael Outreach on what Carmichael does and what social enterprise is. The class wanted to help.

A simple concept. We come up with a “cool” design, get t-shirts made, sell t-shirts, then donate all profits to Carmichael. The only problem was by the time we picked a company, name, logo, website, made a draft plan, we only had three weeks to go to market. 

Week 1

We order the t-shirts, finalize the price, put up the website, and start telling our friends and family they have to support our “class project” by purchasing a t-shirt.

Week 2

T-shirts arrive, 9 are pre-sold by one student, two days later we land a distribution deal with The Junction Creative Studio, they end up selling 12.

Week 3

We plan to sell all remaining t-shirts Tuesday at lunch at the Regina Campus of Saskatchewan Polytechnic. 9 shirts are remaining and we’re quite impressed. Two hours later we’re sold out.

As typical entrepreneurs we didn’t ask “permission” to sell t-shirts at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. We had a couple people inquire but when the students give the well rehearsed “we’re really sorry but it’s for our class!” no security guard was going to get them in any type of trouble.

What did they learn?

The second last night of class before the final I asked them what did they actually learn about entrepreneurship or business? The best answer I heard was, “well we learned that really anything is possible because I didn’t think ANY of this would have been possible at the start of the year.”  How cool is that?!

If you can experience something you’re going to have a much more memorable learning outcome than just simply reading or writing it down. Doing experiments in the classroom engages the students, it keeps the instructor on his/her toes because there’s an inherent risk in trying something new. With risk comes reward.

Taking field trips, working on group projects, competing for random things was a blast and a great way to incentivize learning. We all have a vested interest in trying new things in teaching, it’s the only way we innovate our education system. It’s easy to have the attitude that you can’t change things, on the contrary, change will only come from those rouge teachers who don’t except the status quo and keep pushing what’s possible. It’s harder but worth it.

Go experiment, try new things, push students to learn differently. Remember, anyone can teach a class, very few people can teach a class that students will remember for the rest of their lives. (long live the Al Derges Philosophy)

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