There is a long-standing debate on whether or not you can teach entrepreneurship.
And though our consensus is that entrepreneurship can not be taught in a classroom, we do believe that beneficial principles, stories, and strategies can be learned and refined in an educational setting.
This is where Iris Hammel and RISE come in.
Iris Hammel is the Executive Director at RISE or Regional Innovation & Startup Education
RISE is a leader in best practices for entrepreneurship education using entrepreneurial thought and immersion.
Startup Moxie serves area high school students and their Applied Entrepreneurship program is offered to regional colleges and universities.
Iris has been a lifelong educator. Working as a business teacher and college instructor before pursuing a career in entrepreneurial education.
Be sure to check out these great clips from the show:
- [2:14] Developing an entrepreneurial mindset
- [12:15] Innovative approaches to education
- [21:51] Creating an entrepreneurial culture
- [28:35] The use of AI in education
- [38:08] The Impact of the Applied Entrepreneurship Program
In our conversation with Iris, you will learn about:
- Entrepreneurship as a Vehicle for Change: Iris, a lifelong educator and entrepreneur, believes that entrepreneurship can revolutionize the education system. It’s not just about starting businesses, but about fostering a mindset that encourages problem-solving, creativity, and resilience.
- Creating a Culture of Learning: We discussed the importance of creating a learning culture that prioritizes essential skills and experiences over grades. This involves transparent communication with parents and fostering a focus on mastery-based competencies.
- The Future of Education: Iris expressed excitement about the potential of AI in education. She envisions a shift where students take the lead in their own learning journeys, moving away from traditional measures like credits and hours.
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Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Companies and organizations:
- First Internet Bank
- Velocities, IN
- Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce
- Wim Hof
- Innovation Park – IDEA Center – University of Notre Dame
- Iris Hammel
- David Becker
- Dan Nash
- Cat Edmonds
- Matt Sheldon
- Nate Spangle
- Matt Hunckler
- Christopher ‘Toph’ Day
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Matt: From the crossroads of America in the Hoosier state of Indiana, this is Get In, the podcast focused on the unfolding stories and extraordinary innovations happening right now in the heartland. I’m Matt Hunckler, CEO at Powderkeg, and I’ll be one of your hosts for today’s conversation. I am joined in studio by Nate Spangle, Head of Community at Powderkeg.
Welcome, Nate. Hey. And on the show today is Iris Hammel, Executive Director at Rise.
Iris: Zoom out. And get into a space where you can really look intentionally at how you spend your energy.
Matt: Iris Hamill is the executive director at RISE or Regional Innovation and Startup Education. And RISE is a leader in best practices for entrepreneurship, education, using entrepreneurial thought and immersion. And also their program startup moxie serves area high school students and their applied entrepreneurship program.
The applied entrepreneurship program is offering regional colleges. And universities, this curriculum Iris has been a lifelong educator working as a business teacher and college instructor before pursuing a career in entrepreneurial education. And today we’re going to talk about a bunch of interesting topics, including developing an entrepreneurial mindset.
Why entrepreneurship is an important skillset at any age. How to develop and retain the best talent and a whole lot more. I’m sure Iris, thank you so much for being here and welcome to the show.
Iris: Thank you so much for having me. And I would like to just add, I am actually a Founder and Co Founder. So I think a lot of times educators get this, the old adage of those who can’t do teach.
And I think it’s just critical to know, like I own my own company and I helped start RISE. And I am not in that bucket. I am a founder being entrepreneurial in education.
Matt: I appreciate that so much. As someone who graduated with one of my degrees was in entrepreneurship and innovation from IU. I always appreciated having teachers who had been there, done that, could speak from the trenches.
It’s critical. Not just the successes, but the challenges and failures along the way, too. Yeah. Absolutely.
So why entrepreneurship?
Iris: Honestly, it’s the best vehicle to create change in the education system. When I’m 80, I want to be able to turn around and say that I created some type of impact on this system in our country.
And But inside the system, there’s not a lot of room to do that. And entrepreneurship was a pathway that hadn’t been mired down yet and created a space for freedom where you could run. And so that is how I found, my path in entrepreneurship education to create some change.
Matt: So glad you did.
Nate and I can relate as entrepreneurs ourselves.
Nate: Yes. So I feel like entrepreneurship, right? It’s it’s interesting to pair that with education, but I’d like to start talking about your background. Where did you first get the entrepreneurial spirit?
Iris: I think on my, fourth gen family farm.
I think farmers are the most entrepreneurial people on the planet because…
Matt: That is a theme on the show. Yes. David Becker, founder of First Internet Bank and several other companies. It’s He specifically called that out.
Iris: Yeah, it’s growing up in that environment. I was like the gopher on the farmyard, and I was.
I was the resource gatherer for everybody. So it was like, Go find this. Go figure that out. Go do this. Go that I was the kid they were literally putting in the machines because they couldn’t like reach, so they just put me in there is like an extension. So glad you made it out of the yes. I was like little enough.
And I guess not scared, but
Matt: So you’ll be ready when we all have the bionic arms and like I embedded in our brains. Yes, I guess that’s the machines in us.
Iris: That’s a little different, but yeah. So I think as humans, from age zero to seven, that’s when you’re programmed and I grew up on a fourth gen farm and that’s where I was programmed, you’re always solving problems with resources you don’t have, so you are using things that are not meant to be used for the things.
And every day there’s a new problem that you have to solve.
Matt: Is there one story from that family farm that was a big entrepreneurial lesson for you?
Iris: Oh boy. I think collectively. Advocation and communication is probably what came out of that. And you might think Nate, you’re looking at me like, what?
Nate: My perplexed look.
Matt: Yeah. Those sound like education terms.
Iris: Yeah, so I think that when you’re the youngest on a farm, and, it’s a rather large operation if you are not communicating effectively, And telling people what’s up you’re just going to get ordered around constantly and you gotta get people to listen, and when you’re three or four and you’re like telling them literally it’s not there. Like I just went over there to go get the thing you told me to go get, and it’s not there and you have to boss adults around a little bit to listen. I think that’s one thing. And then obviously worth that work ethic.
That is just bred into me. Like you had to turn work into fun and. I guess that’s just part of my mindset is I want my work to be fun. And I’ve always been drawn towards those things that I’m passionate about that are fun to me so
Matt: This may seem obvious, but why is work ethic an important skill set for an entrepreneur to have?
Iris: Because you are going to be faced with so much adversity at times that like, if you can’t have the confidence in yourself to work through it, you’re not going to be able to get through the other side. It’s just, it will chew you up and spit you out. Now I’m not saying you should subscribe to like the hustle mentality.
I think that’s toxic, but in the beginning you are everything to that company. You are the dishwasher, the cook, the front of house, the back of house the wait staff. If you’re a restaurant, but. whatever industry you’re in. And so in those early days, if you don’t have the grit, in the work ethic, it’s not going to be a career for you probably
Nate: Do you have advice for maybe those early stage founders that are balancing work ethic and then hustle culture where it’s like it’s early on. We got to grind. But you also don’t want to go into that toxic hustle culture.
Iris: Yeah, I think, My advice is zoom out and get into a space where you can really look intentionally at how you spend your energy.
I think that managing energy is almost more important than managing time and managing yourself, frankly, in your perspectives, because that’s a big part of energy. Like you might have a bad attitude or a bad perspective about something. And that toxicity. Will drain you of energy, which then doesn’t allow you to perform with your team or your people the best that you could possibly perform.
So I think zooming out, knowing what recharges your batteries, and by the way, screens and that kind of stuff does not do it, but zooming out and getting quiet enough so that you can really see where do I need to spend my energy intentionally, so that you make every
Nate: move count.
I love that. I think that there’s a ton of successful entrepreneurs that show like, Hey, in six hours and flow state or whatever, I can accomplish all this, sitting behind your computer for 10 or 12 hours and like just staring there and not getting anything done.
Is it really working?
Iris: It creates tunnel vision and you need to open your apertures and you can’t do that if you’re not in a space where you can think. And if you’re just grinding, you’re not thinking you’re grinding on a very set thing.
Matt: Are there any exercises or. Even like protocols that entrepreneurs can use, or really anybody who wants to be more entrepreneurial can use to open their aperture and get into that kind of zoomed out.
Iris: Yeah, I think, I don’t know if Dan Nash with Velocities, he was with Velocities down in Columbus, now works for the Columbus Chamber, but I hope he doesn’t mind me calling him out, but he and I chat all the time about breath work and Tai Chi and and personally, I use Reiki to do that myself.
Tell us what Reiki is. It’s really and I’m going to totally just murder the description I’m going to give you because I’m not an expert on it, but, For me, it’s energy clearing work. So it’s really, again, like going inward and that body mind connection and being able to have that mind body connection.
Your body is such a telltale for so many things, how stress is affecting you. Where your energy is like being able to feel like a spark. So many people can’t even feel sparks cause they don’t, they’re so disconnected from their own bodies. So it could be bar class, like my girlfriend is a runs a bar studio out in California and through that bar studio work, she’s created that mind body connection.
So I think for everybody, it’s unique and different. Some people it’s religion and that their spiritual practice. But whatever helps you get quiet and. Calm the mind and the brain from overanalyzing everything and being on can do that. And what Dan has shared with me is that he has found that breath work is the thing that works so much better than everything else.
Cause a lot of times some of these other practices you’re literally, and he used this phrase, you’re walking around is almost like a spiritual lollipop where you’ve got like all these ideas in your heads about it, but you’re, it’s not. Getting into your body and that’s what you need to do.
Matt: How can people use breath work to be more entrepreneurial more creative and find more sparks?
Iris: Yeah, I think anytime you’re faced with a really awesome opportunity or big audacious problem, or difficult conversation or Frustration or anger anything like deep breaths, and it sounds It’s cliche and simple and too elementary, but if you can get in the habit of studying how to breathe because we don’t actually breathe the way we should be breathing to get into our bodies, like start there.
There’s books on it. You can obviously Google it or talk to Chat GPT, I’m sure. don’t know. But just get curious about it, and find your own path. But the point is, you have to get that mind body connection to really, truly be able to take a beat and be like your most creative possible.
Matt: I couldn’t agree more here at Powderkeg. We use breath work all the time. We use the Wim Hof method. Occasionally is, yeah, Wim Hof is almost like hyperventilating, getting into that almost just a different state. Why don’t you have an ice tub? I know
Nate: We need to do that right before the show, we should do a show in the ice tub or sauna.
Matt: Oh, I would do both. We could do the cold plunge or the sauna. Yes. Box breathing is another good one that navy seals have done and then there’s a new one that I’ve been trying recently that has been like really good for calming. The way I understand it is, breathing in is going to, and focusing on the in breath is going to help energize you.
Whereas if you do a longer exhale, that’s going to help calm you down. Yeah, cool. So the new one I found is like two quick inhales through your nose, and then a longer exhale through your mouth.
Iris: Love it.
Matt: And if you do three of those, it’s like a complete… Reset. Nervous system reset.
Nate: I think this episode might get picked up by the Daily Calm.
Matt: Yeah, maybe. Who knows. Headspace, why not. Yeah, why not.
Nate: I love it. So currently, where you’re sitting with Rise is at the intersection of entrepreneurship and education. Yes. I’d love to talk for you, which came first, the chicken or the egg?
You talk about growing up on the farm, learning entrepreneurship there. Where did you find, at what point did you find that you wanted to be an educator as well?
Iris: Yeah, so I did work in business and industry after college and then recognized like Education is near and dear to my heart where my mom was an educator.
My grandma was an educator Everybody told me I was gonna go into education. I was like, no, I’m not doing that and I had some pretty honestly, like super traumatic experiences at the hands of the education system to the point where my mom helped me just play the game to graduate. And two weeks before going into graduation, my principal hauled me and he’s Iris, you’re not I shouldn’t actually let you walk.
And I was like, what? And he’s You’re technically truant right now. And I was like, Oh, and he’s why aren’t you coming to school? And I’m like I’m fourth in my class. I can’t move up in the rankings. And I’m doing other things because this is boring, like this is painful for me to be sitting here.
And I think at the root of it, it’s that right. It’s like we are putting Children in a space for eight hours a day. Every day. It’s their work, right? It’s their work week, and it’s painful, and it’s not the people in the buildings. It’s the system, and so I think that’s what drew me to get my teaching degree and go that education route, and I was a business teacher first, and I just about died.
It was a very traditional school. It was just like I think I walked in and they had typewriters and this was 2008 and then I got looked at sideways for getting rid of the typewriters and I was just like, What do you mean, so it was hard. And I think at my heart I am an entrepreneur and I want to solve the problem and I realize I can’t be in this inside I’m a big picture thinker and I like big audacious challenges and I almost left education.
To be honest, I was, I was teaching Psychology at a technical college and that was really rewarding. And I thought, I’m going to leave K 12. I’m going to, I’m going to go the psychology route like that. I honestly think my psychology degree, like background has helped me more in entrepreneurship and business than my business education or my business degree.
Yeah. Because we’re humans and to build a company, to get other humans, to change their behaviors, to spend money or time with you, you got to understand humans, and you got to understand yourself. I think to be an effective entrepreneur, you have to master yourself and that really is like that interpersonal psychology work and the breath work and mind body connection stuff, so try to fast forward here, but it was like one of those moments in life. I’ll never forget. I checked the teaching board for Wisconsin one last time before I was going to like, just get my master’s in psychology and there was an opportunity to start an entrepreneurial middle school.
And inside of me, it just felt like a light switch went off. This is it. This is what you got to do. And so I networked into an interview literally that night. Finally I found somebody that I like one of my connections connected me with the connection that connected me with the school. And talked with the one of the guidance counselors that was on the interview committee and was like, we’re interviewing tomorrow.
Can you be here at nine 9 a.m.? And by the way, you And so my husband actually took off of work to drive me so I could finish my portfolio in the car on the way to the interview and then it was an eight hour interview with students and parents and very innovative school very innovative. And to me, it was the melding of all of my loves.
It was entrepreneurship, it was psychology, it was education and it just felt right. And that is where I cut my teeth on all of the work I’m doing today in the education space.
Matt: Anything that you think people working in an entrepreneurial environment could learn from the skill set you gained learning to be a teacher?
Iris: Yes. Every no is just a soft yes. You just gotta find the path to it. There are so many no’s in the education industry and they’re all just soft yes’s. You just gotta get creative and find your way around it. And I think that people give up too soon and it’s Zoom out again and really get curious about this problem and think about a different way to hack it.
Cause there’s never one right way to do the thing in entrepreneurship. There’s an infinite number of ways that you could build a company or serve or create products and don’t let a no shut you down. I love that.
Nate: Flip side of the coin. Yeah. Maybe there’s a teacher listening that, maybe wants to start a business, but how could.
Let’s go. How could a teacher who’s listening become more entrepreneurial in the classroom?
Iris: A couple of things, I think how you facilitate matters. So your pedagogy model, if you are practicing the old school direct instruction thing, just throw that in the garbage and start over. Start researching constructivism student centered learning, experiential learning questions come visit us.
We’d love to help you. That’s what we’re here to do. Just so people know where aware. Yeah, So we’re at Innovation Park at Idea Center in Notre Dame. That’s where our offices in our R and D lab classrooms are South Bend, Indiana, South Bend, Indiana, those who maybe don’t know. Yeah, South Bend, Yeah we love helping people.
That’s, and that’s what we’re here to do. And and I think don’t lose hope, but do focus on yourself first. Honestly, you can’t really do really good entrepreneurial education. If you don’t pick up those skill sets yourself first, start learning about empathy and design thinking and de risking problems from a standpoint of understanding your customers and your students are your customers.
So you need to get to know them. You like, that is part of it. Honestly, if there was like one thing. To focus on, to be more entrepreneurial, understand your customer, and then ask yourself, how might we meet my, our customers where they’re at and the path will be set for you.
Matt: I would imagine that there’s an interesting dynamic with students being the customer and what does that make the parents?
Yeah. So I’m thinking about like a startup and you’ve got your customers. But then you’ve also got like your board. Yes. You’ve got your investors. You’ve got other key stakeholders who say you should be doing this. You should be doing that at the end of the day, your job is to. Sell and serve to the customer, but how do you manage that dynamic with the parents if the parents are saying you need?
I mean in the worst case scenario, I’m sure this has never happened. My kid needs an a And they’re pushing for the grade as opposed to like the learning.
Iris: I think this goes back Just something I’ve learned through this career that I guess I’ve built here in Indiana is manage up like Yes.
Your students are your customers, but your parents are your board, like your parents, your administration, everybody else above that you got to manage up, so you’ve got to anticipate what are they going to be, what are they going to be getting after you about, and then how do you proactively. Help them understand.
So what we do is we actually host an orientation before our program even starts, and we are bullish about do not rob your child of learning opportunities and not getting what they want is a learning opportunity for them to have an adult professional conversation about why maybe their grade is what their grade is or what it is like.
We will be fully transparent with. How we got here and honestly, and in our programs, our students are telling, they are in control of everything. And when there’s something off, like to me, a red flag in my program is if we’re talking too much about those schooly things, if kids are coming to me whining about grades, there is a massive problem in our culture, in our program, and it’s then we address that.
So it’s that proactive communication, it’s managing up, it’s, and honestly they see the human transformation in their children and then it’s not about the grade. It’s about the experience and the learning, the true learning that is happening and the network connections that are happening and kids get lit up about their communities in ways that their parents have never heard before.
And their kids are coming home telling them about the economic development strategies in their region. And it’s so many parents over the years, they’re just like blown away that their kids know so much about these things. And it’s that’s exactly what we want to see.
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Matt: I went to a public school, I’m not sure about you, Nate. I did go to a public school. It sounds like your school is maybe different than the school I went to. I went to a great school here in Indiana nothing wrong with it. But, tell me a little bit about the culture.
Yeah. Of your school, and how is it different from other schools that you’ve…experienced.
Iris: Yeah. So we’re not a school. I wish we were a school, but we’re more of like a, a career center for entrepreneurship. So students come to us from all those sending schools. So in our programs, we’ve got every, everything under the sun from very affluent private school to scrappy, urban, disadvantaged, economically disadvantaged, kind of inner city school students and so that classroom creates an opportunity for a dynamic that none of them have experienced before. And for me, I always listen for the buzz. It’s if I’m walking into the classroom at 7 30 in the morning, which is early. That’s when we meet for class.
If there’s not a buzz there, I know our kids aren’t lit up. They’re not excited to be there. They’re not, and so it’s like a total shift in where you place emphasis and what’s important. And it’s so much more about those essential skills than it is the content. Like the content will come as long as the human has those entrepreneurial mindsets and skills that they need to be able to get after whatever it is they want to get after.
Nate: And for those not familiar with the startup moxies, the program, right? So one of them, one of them, like the high school program. And that was like your first entry point, right?
Your first product. Can you give us like a 10, 000 foot flyover of what the startup moxie program is? Yeah.
Iris: So we, our motto is we get kids radically connected to their communities. We help them build themselves while they build their startups and startup. I use that word because that makes sense, but it could be an innovation within a company.
So entrepreneurial activity, it could be a nonprofit, it could be a startup. And so that’s the recipe, that’s what we do. We. We are intentionally creating an ecosystem around our students to support whatever vision they have for their future. But it starts with helping them understand how do I create a vision for myself?
How do I know myself? And it goes back to the psychology stuff and the mind body connection stuff. That is fundamental. Those essential skills are what’s fundamental to this work. And then anything could be put on top of that.
Matt: You’ve seen so many kids. Grow up, become adults even. And when you look back at those hundreds, maybe thousands of people, do you think entrepreneurship is a skillset that you’re born with or can it be taught?
Iris: It can absolutely be taught. And I think how it’s taught is everybody is unique and has their own unique strengths and behaviors that makes them who they are. And the entrepreneur, you can teach how to create teams to surround yourself. So you can work from a place of strength and then you can attract advisors, mentors, support systems that round out your blind spots.
So you absolutely can teach, you can absolutely teach the fundamentals of lean startup. That’s easy. You can just go online and watch some videos. You can teach how to pitch. That’s easy. It’s just presentation skills mixed with some sales. It’s those life skills though. And a lot of our kids, unfortunately, their parents didn’t have the opportunity to learn these things.
And Yeah, you can absolutely teach people how to get to know themselves so they can design a life where they can work from a place of strength.
Nate: Do you think entrepreneurship is best taught in a classroom?
Iris: Oh my gosh, no.
Nate: As the, Matt sits here as the resident entrepreneurial major in college.
Yes, I know. And I’ve always had like mixed feelings about Oh you really study entrepreneurship in a textbook?
Iris: No you cannot. And like when I, it’s so funny I’m not going to call any institutions out, but like when I would listen to, practice pitches or, help give feedback is I’m like, Could you maybe just get your head out of the theory in the book and go talk to, like actual industry people that are doing this so you can move a bit faster and understand the real work you need to be doing.
We have to have a docking station and a hub where there’s density and activity. Call it a classroom, but it is not I think entrepreneurship education is it’s almost a little bit of an oxymoron to be fair. If you are truly entrepreneurial, you are going to understand how to figure it out and go do it.
But I do think you can de risk the process and create a stronger, healthier entrepreneur in an, in a space.
Matt: I kind of think of entrepreneurial and startup education. As like tools, not rules. Yes. Yes. Here’s a set of tools. You’re building a company. Would you rather have more tools or less tools? And sometimes more tools can be confusing if you don’t know how to use them.
Yeah. And you don’t have them organized in some kind of framework. Yes. But the moment you shift into, and I think this is what you’re getting to, the moment you shift into these are the rules. No, first I need to do this. Yeah. We can’t go. So we can’t sell yet because we haven’t done this step yet is
Iris: One of the things that we train teachers now.
So our R and D lab is Moxie, our startup Moxie program and our applied entrepreneurship program. That’s where we test our test bed. But now we’re in the teacher training mode and that’s where most of our time and work is spent. And they are tied to rules because of our system, our education system, they struggle because they’re like, I’m not sure if I’m doing right, I’m not sure if I have to do this first or that first. And then if I do this and then, and I’m like. The only thing you need to do is get to know your students and where are they at? And then yes, lean startup process, but the fundamentals of heavily helping them understand who they are and what their intention or tensions are.
And this entrepreneurial life design of what do I want, for life, what do I intend with this company, slow down and forget. It’s not a rule bound thing, it’s organic and you, yes, a process helps keep you steady and getting traction and having structure around best practices, but keeping it simple is the best.
And I mentored teachers across the state and always when they call me and they’re in struggle, it always goes back to. It’s Hey, What do your students need? Tell me about your students. Where are they struggling right now? And the second they start telling me the path is revealed for them on how to move forward.
So it’s just re grounding them and tell me about your students and those that can’t tell me I know they’re not doing what we’re asking them to do.
Matt: Well, speaking of tools, how are you seeing students and teachers start to use things like AI?
Iris: Yeah we haven’t seen it yet. Like this year we will see it, which is exciting.
We’re using it. Really excited. I and just today we were talking with the Carnegie Foundation and they’re using it in redesigning how we assess students. And I am so excited about this. One of the hardest things in my style of education is the tools have never matched the work. Every tool in the education system right now requires the teacher to be the leader.
And we need the students to lead we need the students to be driving, hey, I think this opportunity is going to teach me these things and I’m going to go do this and then bring back this artifact or product or, thing to show mastery of that. So shifting away from the Carnegie unit, which Carnegie Foundation has said, please stop using the credits and the hours and the time in seat as the measure, which was established in 1906, it’s We’re still doing that, and colleges are doing that, and everything K 12 does is because of what colleges do, and it’s just, so they are making a very bullish public stance on stop using the Carnegie unit, and we’re redesigning using mastery based competencies.
The middle school I started was founded on that, and I had to use paper. Paper and stickers and empower students to know what the competencies were. So if they were going to the science museum on the weekend, they could come back and get credit for the learning they had done because of the enriched experience they just had.
And learning happens everywhere. It’s not just in a building, and so now the technology exists it’s to make that possible and to individualize it from that level. And I am hopeful. I’m very hopeful that the state of Indiana is going to be a lead in this work using A I to really, truly make individualized education a reality and also.
Allow teachers to stop focusing on the rules and the tests and all these things that actually are not proving effective.
Nate: I love what you’re saying. The access to all this knowledge has never been more accessible than it is now. With YouTube and all the Internet, TikTok, you can learn like 10 things in 10 minutes on TikTok.
How are you seeing students apply the entrepreneurship principles or lessons that you guys are teaching as well as that are on the Internet in real life?
Iris: I think again, it goes back to like the traits, right? Those essential skills of resiliency and problem solving and going from I was just sharing this story today of a young woman who was.
Wired for all the AP courses, straight A’s, heading to Notre Dame, parents are doctors and lawyers, like there is a clear path of what success looks like in this girl’s family, and I’ll never forget her journal, that’s a big, reflecting is a big part of our work with students, she probably wrote three pages about this was the first time in her entire education that she had been allowed to fail.
And what rich learning experience she had from that failure and given the time and the space to do that. And so I think that with these tools, we will be able to innovate and we will celebrate the failures because failure is so dense with learning. You know what I mean? Like you can’t even predict the learning that comes out of failure.
And so that’s exciting.
Nate: When was your first startup Moxie class?
Iris: It was 2015,
Nate: 2015. Okay. So eight years later, do you have a story of any of those early students that went through the startup maxi program that are there any that are on the current entrepreneurs now?
Iris: Yes. Several. Yeah. Oh, I’d love to hear a story.
Oh my gosh, Kat Edmonds has my heart. This girl’s incredible by the way.
Nate: I know Kat, I was in Orr fellow Troopers. Kat, I was. Yes.
Iris: Okay. So you, you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t know. So tell me this story. All right. So Kat Edmonds is in my class and she, by the way, comes from a long legacy of successful business owners and has a lot of pressure, self imposed pressure to perform.
To arise to that family legacy. I will just say that. But so she was the class CEO for their class business event and they wanted to produce and do something crazy. Every community has their set of galas and fundraisers that everybody goes to every year. And she was the class CEO and she’s let’s do something different.
Let’s do something people have never seen before. And so We’re going to host this event at an airplane hangar and, one of the problems they had identified in their discovery work throughout the year is that a lot of CEOs and owners of companies were really concerned about our ability as a region to attract top talent because our school systems were so poor and they felt that they were losing hope on our schools and that they didn’t want our most important business leaders to lose hope and not understand the children in those schools and the cool stuff that kids were doing despite the system. And so they partnered with a group called Ignite Mishiano, which does like Ted talks. And they did a kid Ted talk where they laser focused on kids doing cool things in our most rough school system.
To help give hope that was their problem. They were solving to give hope to these CEOs and these company owners that don’t give up on this system. There’s cool stuff happening and it was cool. So long story short, we’re producing this event, about three weeks before the event cat gives me a call and she’s Iris.
We’re not hitting our metrics. We are not I think we need to pull the plug on some things. I don’t know what we do. I’m like, all right let’s map this out. We got to get a game plan. We got to talk to your company here. And the company of, 24, 17 and 18 year olds. And she did.
We hosted a meeting. I think we were on the third floor at that time. We were running my program out of my car. We did not actually have a space. I think I had funded everything on my credit card up to the point where my husband was like are we going to get paid for this? And we didn’t have a checking account yet.
So I was just running the program, but we were in the, conference room in Notre Dame, third floor idea center, innovation park, and. She’s had a come to Jesus meeting with her classmates before we had a speaker. So they came in early. She called them there at 7 a. m. and we had a speaker coming at 7 30 early call time for teenagers.
Yep. And she just level set on all the key areas and was like, you all need to make a decision right now. Do we want to go with, we’re going to produce something we’ve never done before in this community he’s never seen before, or do we want to play it safe and not embarrass ourselves and go this other route and she got the whole class to wholeheartedly say, we’re going with you, we’re doing it.
It was it was, I don’t know, like a Rudy moment, or it’s we’re going for it. And, but then. So then we get up to the event. It’s November 25th. So my birthday is on November 24th. So I’ll never forget this.
Matt: That’s like Thanksgiving time too.
Iris: That’s not November February. I don’t know why I said November, February.
We’re snowstorm of like years, right? Businesses were shutting down, not just schools, businesses had lot. And Cat day of cats what do we do? And I was like who are the vendors you’ve spent the most money with? And so it was our lighting and sound guy. Cause we had to like totally build out an airplane hanger.
We also had to work with the airplane hanger. Cause it was a private hanger that there’s jets in there and we didn’t know if they’d be willing to take the jets out. So that we could have our event in that space with these inclement weather situations. So they hustle. It was true entrepreneurship at its finest.
And by the way, I didn’t do any of it for them and that’s a big misconception. Like when people showed up to that event, which we ended up having to have because the lighting and sound guys were like, we’ve already loaded our trucks. You’re going to have to pay us double if we cancel right now. And we’re like, let’s do it.
So we did it during setup that day. We’re like, how do we fix the entrance? So there’s like cover. So people aren’t getting, wind whipped with snow and ice and all these things. So we’re literally setting up a tent that we had, crowds sourced because we don’t have any money. They also, by the way, didn’t want to rent chairs because they didn’t want to spend the money.
So we crowdsource 700 chairs. They didn’t want to, they hustled their butts off, but. Literally, there was a moment where I’m helping these boys set up this tent and it goes flying in the wind and it’s about to hit the tarmac and then it gets hung up on the barbed wire fence to stop it and I’m just like And I’m like, What else?
What else is going to go on here? But they do it and that class set the bar like I am forever grateful to Cat Edmonds and Cole Kuyper and Zach Biggs and Christian like the kids, the leaders. In that Kevin Torres like they set the bar so incredibly high for every like I moxie would not be what it is today without them setting the bar so high.
Matt: And so Cat’s and or fellow now and
Iris: Yes, and an entrepreneur
Nate: Finished up. I think she’s a year or two out.
Iris: Yes. So back to the original question. So now sidebar, she had a full ride to play soccer at Marion, but because of our program wanted to stay local. And that is one of the Thank you. Awesome side effects of our program is when you get kids radically connected to community and leaders in their community, they want to say, they love their work and they want to keep doing their work.
So she started a nonprofit in high school. That’s still running today. Called together for the long run. And it’s a super cool model. And then now actually her and. One of my alumni from the first year of the applied entrepreneurship program, who’s also a serial entrepreneur at this point, because I think he started three companies.
They just launched a company called together called connect 5, 7, 4. So it’s all about connecting. It’s a way of connecting people in the community around social activities and making it okay to go to an event and meet people because they’re always doing things where you’re getting put on teams with people you don’t know, and it’s super cool and fun, and they’re doing it.
Matt: That’s really awesome. And I’m so glad that you’re doing the work that you’re doing. If people want to get plugged in to Rise, how can they find you and in what ways can they engage?
Iris: Yeah, so our social media is that at Rise s b e. That’s Instagram, everything else. Our website is raising the region.org.
My email is email@example.com, and I think. We are here to help. We consult with universities and community groups. We’re working with boys and girls club.
Matt: So even if you’re not in south Bend there’s a way to plug it.
Iris: Oh yeah. We’re actually statewide now in all of our work. So we’re in about 90 high schools and 10 higher education institutions.
And and it’s a model, it’s not a program. It really is a model where it’s like.
And so I really do feel strongly that there were some grassroots movements when I moved to South Bend, but really the work of my boss and the founding board that I was on with the startup You know, board like that work. I’m honestly, I was doing that work at the same time as I was building Moxie.
And I was doing both intentionally because you have to have something for kids to dock into. And so if you’re running our model, you will become the nucleus of entrepreneurial activity in your community, just by nature of our model, like you can’t not create an entrepreneurial ecosystem and not, if you’re implementing with fidelity, for communities that don’t have anything, it’s a great place to start something. For communities that have stuff, it’s a great place to add density and intentionality and just inspire young people,
Matt: Very cool. I could ask you questions all day, but we are to our favorite segment of the show.
Or at least Nate’s favorite segment.
Iris: Oh, I feel like it’s a stumper question, right? No,
Matt: There are actually no wrong answers. Huh.
Nate: No, there’s no wrong answers. Nate will be the judge. It’s the lightning round. Okay. So we’re going to ask three questions off the top of your head. Quick. Let’s hear the answer, right?
Outside of the amazing entrepreneurial ecosystem, what is Indiana known for?
Iris: Race car driving? Race car driving. I love it. That’s a good one. There we go. I’m from Wisconsin, so that one’s easy. Cheese. Beer.
Nate: That’s fair. Ryan Newman, the South Bend NASCAR driver. There you go.
What is one hidden gem in Indiana?
Iris: Our humbleness. I’m from the Midwest, but I did not know what kindness was. Humbleness truly means across an entire state like that Hoosier humbleness is like a real thing. It’s palpable.
Nate: I love that and couldn’t agree more. And who is someone that we need to keep on our radar? Someone who is doing big things.
What’s up, guys?
Iris: Oh, man. I’m gonna call Matt Sheldon. Who’s Matt Sheldon? So he’s the I already called out Cats. Now I got to call Matt. He was in my first year. Program for the college program started a program or a company called Game Day that does like concierge tailgating also got the sole tailgating rights at started a property management company.
And what I love about Matt Sheldon is he is somebody that gives back. So talk about the return on your investment. This is what I live for, right? It’s you create an experience where students can understand the value of connectivity and being a part of something and servant leadership. So it’s not about trying to get the network for themselves to, go build from a place of ego.
It’s about. How can I help? So we teach them and like the networking process. It’s like it’s asking. How can I help first and Matt to me is I had an experience this summer because he always comes in and speaks to teachers were training. He was talking about the entrepreneur operating system and It was the first time in my professional career where the teacher got to be the student again, and that lit a fire under my ass, like none other.
And I was like, I need to get after it. My kids are passing me up. Like they’re teaching me now. And so that was just such a cool thing. And he is. He and his co founder, Greg, are just incredible Holy Cross graduates, and they are going to do some cool stuff in this world because they’re good people doing good work.
Matt: I love that. And so are you, Iris. Thank you so much for all that you do for young people, entrepreneurs everywhere, and all of these communities. It’s a really inspiring story and we look forward to continuing to follow your success.
Iris: Thank you guys so much.
Matt: Thank you.
This has been get in a powder kick production in partnership with elevate ventures, and we want to hear from you.
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