Rotary Clubs of Los Gatos and San Jose sponsored a start-up business boot camp designed for teens called Enterprise Leadership Conference last week March 6-8.
The program was started in the South Bay in 1983 by the Rotary Club of San Jose and has now expanded to include the Rotary Club of Los Gatos, and the Los Gatos Morning Club.
Jessica Poyner, ELC chairwoman, explained 96 high school juniors from 28 different schools are put into teams of eight—four boys and four girls—and they're educated about the fundamentals in how to start a company and run a business in a three-day business boot camp.
The event begins at the Rotary Summit Center in San Jose and then the students are taken by bus to the Asilomar Conference Center.
ELC gives them a sense of independence, responsibility and confidence by working together, expressing themselves and learning the importance of cooperation, said Poyner.
The top three teams present at the Rotary Clubs.
The first-place team presents at San Jose Rotary Club at noon Wednesday, March 13; the second-place team presents at Los Gatos Rotary at noon Tuesday, March 19 and the third-place team presents at Los Gatos Rotary Morning Club at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 13.
Speakers include industry leaders such as Mark Waxman on marketing, John Baird on human resources and corporate vision, and Vince Sunzeri on finance.
Bryan Kramer was the keynote speaker, a nationally known speaker on social media.
The conference also focused on Tom Rath's bestselling book "StrengthsFinder 2.0," building and finding students' strengths with follow-up discussion by John Baird, who also donated the books to the students.
More than 300 students applied to participate in the conference and 96 were accepted.
Students were recruited from Los Gatos High, Leigh High, Willow Glenn, Lincoln, Gunderson, Overfelt, Piedmont Hills, Andrew Hill, San Jose downtown college prep, Bellarmine College Prep, Presentation, Mitty, Valley Christian and Notre Dame, among others.
The conference is funded through the generous donations of the three Rotary clubs; however this year the event had corporate sponsors for the first time such as Bridge Bank, Plug and Play Tech Center, the Brenner Group, and Berger Lewis, thanks in large part to Tom Bondi of Berger Lewis.