Some high school students are graduating with a bit of business experience under their belts.
William Michael DIMaio and Cole McIlvaine are taking some unique skills with them as they graduate from Oxbridge Academy this year. They’ve been part of an entrepreneurship class under the guidance of teacher Cedric L. Simon.
Simon pushes his students to execute a business plan and follow through with the marketing, branding, time management and budget.
“I like to say hey I’m going to push you because it’s hard to get over that self doubt. If you have this idea, how do you keep yourself going, how do you not get inside your own head,” he said.
This particular pair of students have been hand-crafting skimboards. Their design is now several generations beyond their original prototypes.
“We have some boards that have snapped because they’re way too thin and some boards that have sunk because they’re way too heavy,” explained McIlvaine.
They’ve called their business Caveman Board Co. It’s branched into apparel and handmade skateboards.
“I say if you take care of the minutes, the hours take care of themselves. So we focus on what are we going to do in a day, it’s going to be that entrepreneurial mindset but it’s going to be time management first,” Simon said.
The business has steadily grown over time.
“It was pretty rough in the beginning just getting our name out there, our main advertising is through TikTok and Instagram, so that’s really helping us get the word out,” DiMaio said.
The teens plan to continue the company into college, likely focusing on the less labor-intensive products so they can continue to work from dorm rooms.
“Starting a business is all about making mistakes and getting over obstacles,” McIlvaine said.
Simon said the students in his class learn to be entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, making themselves more valuable in the workplace, even if they work for somebody else.
“Our rewards in life will always be in direct ratio to the need for what you do, your abilities to do it, and the degree of difficulty involved in replacing you,” McIlvaine said.
The teens say a portion of proceeds benefits a non-profit that helps with global reforestation. It remains to be seen what is in the future for the teens.
“I would love to start my own business when I’m older,” DiMaio said.