Entrepreneurial Entrepreneurship Teachers – Part 3, Dustin Walls

What kind of person is best equipped to teach entrepreneurship?  That’s easy.  Someone who is a successful entrepreneur.

That describes Dustin Walls of Carroll High School.  Dustin has owned and operated a commercial cleaning business for 25 years while teaching entrepreneurship, the academy of finance, economics, and various other business courses for 10 years at Carroll.

Dustin and some of his students at 2012 Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium


In the classroom he is thoughtful and innovative.  When he and I collaborated some time ago to present a JA business plan program in his entrepreneurship class we followed JA’s curriculum outline, but we created and presented our own materials and exercises.

He founded Carroll’s student-run “school store”, Charger Corner.  Dustin secured a $8,500 grant for startup funds, and the store started by selling cappuccino, coffee, snacks, and school supplies.  Since then students have expanded Charger Corner, adding such products as water bottles and the PE uniforms that every student needs.

Dustin has brought students to the Innovation Center’s Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium for years.  At the most recent event, he won the “award” for bringing the most students –  38!  By the way, last year that award went to Riley Johnson of New Tech Academy.

Do his students like what he does?  I think this photo tells the story.  Yes, Dustin, I know I said that I wouldn’t publish this one, but it tells your story:  you make a difference that your students enjoy and value!

Keep up the great work, Dustin!

Entrepreneurial Entrepreneurship Teachers – Part 2, Jennifer Galloway and Vanessa Wyss

A couple of months ago I was invited to speak to the kickoff event of a great project at Churubusco Middle School.  Each and every 8th grade student would be creating a business plan.  Is that cool or what?

They teamed up in groups of 4, had a very detailed model to follow, were coached by 2 great teachers, Jennifer Galloway and Vanessa Wyss.

Jennifer Galloway and Vanessa Wyss

Two weekends ago I went back to Churubusco to see the final results and talk to some of the students about their achievements.  I’ll tell you readers what I’ve been telling everyone since then.  Instead of “school projects”, I saw some products that could be selling right now on their own websites or at marketplaces like Etsy.

First, there was Julia Folland’s team, the first one I saw when I walked in the door.  They created a pen and pencil holder that velcros to a belt loop.  What a great idea.  Simple, useful for a student – the target market was clear.  Extensible – I couldn’t help think that by downsizing it just a little, they’ve got a cell phone carrier.  I saw the fabrics they had chosen and immediately thought “etsy.com”.


CrazyHeads made a headband that you could customize by buying and then snapping in a variety of decorations.  Great idea.  Hello, etsy.com.


Check out Alec Nash’s team’s product, the Arm Pillow, a pillow with a sleeve.  Perfect for curling up on the floor in front of the TV (Alec wasn’t shy about demoing the product) – or just grabbing a nap.  I can see this selling now (and can remember being that guy on the floor watching TV when I was young).


Up until now, I had seen products that could be sold (today!) on etsy.com.  Next came a group that had an entirely different market for their creative product.

Donovan Geiger, Cody Reister, and their team made a product to solve a problem that millions of people experience every day.  You leave the grocery store carrying several bags by those handles that bite into your hands whenever the bags have a little weight (and they always have a little weight).  Their team created a carrier that comfortably fits your hand.


This last product I’d like to bring to the attention of my pencil aficionado friend, Andy Welfle, and to all of the engineers in the room.  Alta Kensill and Tristan Creech (and team) created a pencil dispenser.

It works like the straw dispensers you see at restaurants, but with a different mechanical mechanism.  Pencils sit in the hopper, and when you twirl a dowel with a pencil-length notch cut in it, one falls into the notch and, voila, out comes a fresh pencil.


So, congrats to a pair of great teachers.  They stuck their necks out a bit to propose an ambitious program, and then they hit a huge home run.  Now the entire 8th grade class at Churubusco has been infected with the entrepreneurship bug.

Way to go Jennifer and Vanessa!


Entrepreneurial Entrepreneurship Teachers – Part 1, Riley Johnson

Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure to see some absolutely wonderful teachers in action.  They act entrepreneurial themselves, and as a result they find and cultivate the entrepreneurship in their students!

I have 6 teachers in mind who I already know deserve big kudos for their entrepreneurial work.  Yes, I am going to keep you in suspense for now about who they all are.  Please feel free to nominate your own favorite entrepreneurial teachers in the comments.

First up:  Riley Johnson of Wayne High School’s New Tech Academy.

Riley Johnson dressed for what one student called “Wacky, Tacky Thursday”
Pictured with student Su Su Lwin


I first met Riley a few years ago when a friend invited me to speak to Riley’s New Tech class about student entrepreneurship.  I found a teacher that encourages his students to think for themselves and approach learning entrepreneurially.

I’ve see him and his classes a few times since then.

  1. Once to talk to a digital media class that had a project with commercial possibilities.
  2. Last year, he brought the most students to the Innovation Center’s Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium (YES!) that any school has ever brought.
  3. Two years running to help judge class projects where student teams invent a business concept that brings cultural awareness to our city.  Each year I saw some projects that were thoughtful, bold, and absolutely good enough to commercialize for real.

And that leads me to why I was at New Tech last week.  A few months ago I got a call from Riley.  One of those groups wanted to talk about commercializing their project.  I came out to New Tech, met with them, and encouraged them to apply for the Innovation Center’s Student Venture Lab.  Their application came in, and I did a little research to assure myself that their team could pull off what they want to make – a mobile app for tourism and cultural tourism in Fort Wayne.  An app not just for out of town tourists, but for you and I to discover new wonderful places and events around town.

Meet Alex, Anthony, Su, and Corey – the latest additions to the Student Venture Lab.

Alex Cagle, Anthony Aquino, Su Su Lwin, Corey Mendenhall


We met this week to kick off work on their new venture.  Sometime within the next six months, you are going to be able to use a new mobile app to discover more about our community.

Thanks Riley, for helping bring entrepreneurship out of the classroom and into the community!

Calling all Fort Wayne Entrepreneurs

In case you haven’t heard yet, the next JumpStart260 event is scheduled for Friday March 16 at 7:00 p.m. at Columbia Street West.  My confidential inside sources (cough Graham and Ray cough) tell me that nearly as many people as attended the last meeting have already registered for their FREE tickets.

Go to jumpstart260.com and get your free ticket.  Worried about being under 21?  Don’t.  This room at Columbia Street is open to all ages.  You’ll want to come in the side door (bring your ticket), and you’ll go upstairs to the ALL-AGES-WELCOME meeting room.  No need to be over 21.

This event will be great.  My confidential sources also tell me that there just might be a very cool product release at the event – in addition to some pitches and presentations about alternative funding sources.

I’ll see you there!