Looking for the perfect Christmas, birthday, or “just because” gift for the young entrepreneur in your life? We’ve scoured the web for the perfect subscriptions, books, and items to help them elevate their innovative ideas, grow their businesses, and achieve their wildest dreams. Here are our top picks for gifts that will truly be appreciated, utilized, and pay off in dividends:
Skillshare is an online learning platform filled with classes on every topic – from Graphic Design to Marketing to Business Analytics. Aspiring entrepreneurs at every level can learn from experts in any field to hone their business plan, take their existing business to the next level, or build skills that they can use to start their very first venture. Plans start at $15/month (or $180 billed annually).
Canva is a graphic design tool that makes it possible for entrepreneurs of any background to create professional, beautiful graphics, animations, videos, and more! With hundreds of drag and drop templates, budding entrepreneurs can design logos, website images, social posts, promotional items like business cards and posters, and more. Canva Pro plans come out to $119.99/year and offer access to over 100 million premium stock photos, videos, and audio, as well as over 600,000 premium design templates.
Many popular business magazines offer exclusive content, such as breaking news, business tips and tricks, and industry outlooks, on a subscription-only basis. Staying on top of current events not only in their markets, but around the world, is a must for any successful entrepreneur – plus, these magazines often include helpful insights from leading professionals. Besides, who doesn’t love opening a new gift every month? Subscriptions as low as $4/month for The New York Times or Barron’s, or $8/month for The Wall Street Journal.
Whether the aspiring entrepreneur in your life is still a student in high school or college, busy building their empire, or simply constantly on the go – Audible is an amazing resource that makes educational and professional growth possible from anywhere. Entrepreneurs can listen to best-sellers while traveling, getting ready in the morning, or grinding through busy work. Audible Plus plans start at $7.95 per month and offer limitless access to their extensive library of audiobooks, podcasts, and originals.
Guide to Entrepreneurship Competitions for Students
Compiled by judges, coaches, and competition managers from entrepreneurship competitions around the globe, the Guide to Entrepreneurship Competitions for Students is a first-of-its-kind resource for high school to college-level students looking to win top entrepreneurship competitions.
This interactive book features guided support for developing a winning business plan, perfecting your pitch deck, and using your entrepreneurship skills in building your business, joining the workforce, or going to college. Plus, a detailed resource section maps out top competitions, their requirements, and how to make your submissions stand out! You can get your copy for $29 here.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
Why are some products eye-catching and engaging to consumers, while others struggle to gain momentum? How do technologies (and successful companies) hook their customers? Author Nir Eyal’s years of research are unraveled in this book that shows readers how to implement practical insights to create user habits and take actionable steps towards building products people will fall in love with.
Grab a copy for your favorite start-up founder or inventor here!
The Conquer Kit: A Creative Business Planner for Women Entrepreneurs
Know a woman who is taking the world of entrepreneurship by storm? The Conquer Kit guides entrepreneurs through creative exercises like sketching, writing, and collage-making that will help them develop a solid business plan for success.
Designed with female entrepreneurs in mind, by a female entrepreneur, this book contains inspiration and insight to create heart-centric product and marketing plans, build a motivated team, and bring your vision to life. Get the paperback for $18 here!
Waterproof Notepad for the Shower
Every entrepreneur will tell you: the best ideas always come in the shower! For those creative minds that never stop planning and innovating, the AquaNotes notepad is 100% waterproof (it can even be fully submerged) and sticks any smooth surface for convenient brainstorming. Capture inspiration as it strikes!
Pocket Business Card Holder
Networking is a central part of any business and marketing plan – and you never know when you’ll meet an interested partner, customer, or client! Help the business owner, entrepreneur, or professional in your life keep their cards in pristine condition and spread the word about their product or service with this pocket business card holder.
Great ideas can sometimes take up a great amount of paper. The Rocketbook is more than a notebook, it’s a smart, sustainable alternative to sorting through stacks of paper to find your best ideas – while still enjoying the classic pen and paper writing experience. Simply write using any pen from the Pilot Frixion line, scan the QR code to save and organize your notes, then erase your work using just a drop of water.
3D Printing Pen
Aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors can create 3D models of their ideas from anywhere with this amazing 3D printing pen! With no software or hardware involved, users can simply pick up the pen and begin actualizing their ideas. Plus, plastic refills and non-toxic, compostable, and recyclable for environmentally-conscious innovators.
Hopefully we’ve helped spur some amazing ideas for the entrepreneurs in your life! Happy shopping – and happy holidays from the Institute of Competition Sciences (ICS) team!
In 1956, William Shockley moved to Mountain View, California, where he founded Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory - one of the earliest computer technology companies. Shockley was unique in his designs in that he believed that silicon was a better material for making transistors - during the time, germanium was the common material. Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory's research led to breakthroughs in silicon transistor technology. In 1957, some of Shockley's employees left the company to form Fairchild Semiconductor. Two of these original employees of Fairchild Semiconductor, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, went on to found Intel in 1968. And the rest is as they say, history. Silicon became the base of all transistor technology, and Silicon Valley was born as the leading technology hub in the world.
Today, Silicon Valley is far more than just a place where computers and silicon chips are made. Silicon Valley has become eponymous with American innovation and entrepreneurship. It has led to just about every other major metropolitan area trying to replicate the success of the valley. In more recent decades, the US entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown across the country, peaking in 2006 with 715,734 new startups launched, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Then the Great Recession of 2007-2009 put a dramatic dent in the meteoric rise of the startup ecosystems. Since then, the number of startups launched each year has been back on the rise, nearly reaching the 2006 high with 679,072 startups launched in 2015; however, there remain troubling signs for American entrepreneurship.
First, while the number of startups being launched each year has risen since the great recession, the number of jobs per startup has not. In fact, ever since the dot com bubble burst in 1999/2000, jobs per startup has been declining, bottoming out in 2010 at around 4.5 jobs per new startup launched, and showing no signs of going back up. What does this mean? There are many interpretations, but it may be one sign, that the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the United States is not going to be the economic powerhouse that many expect it to be in the coming decades.
One other troubling sign for American entrepreneurship is from the recent Gallup Hope Index. According to this poll, in 2016 we hit an all time low of only 27% of high school students (grades 9-12) having plans to start a business. This is down from recent years where the number was in the mid to low 30% range. But when you ask the younger generation (fifth to eighth grade) over half want to start a business, the response has been 50 to 55% consistently.
This difference in ambition between age groups has existed for as long as Gallup has taken the poll. Over 50% of younger (middle school age) students have responded positively to starting their own business, while by the time they reach high school, that number decreases to the lower 30% range, and now is down to the upper 20% range. What is unique in the most recent 2016 poll, is the extent of that difference. Never before has the Hope Index been less than the mid 30% of high school students wanting to start their own business. The most recent number is a full 7 points off of the previous average of 34%.
So, what’s happening here? Are students losing that desire and ambition once they get an inkling of how much work it is going to take? Or are they simply moving on to other interests? Whatever the case may be, if the American educational system doesn’t figure out a way to keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive in today’s youth, others may take over as the world’s top innovation space for the next generation of world-class entrepreneurs. And in fact that’s what many are trying to do.
Competitions Drive the Startup Ecosystem
One of the major ways that countries spark entrepreneurial interest in students and the next generation of business leaders is through competitions. Business Plan and Business Case competitions have proliferated across the US and through many universities world-wide. You can’t search for a university’s business school without hearing about their student pitch competition, or accelerator. In fact, many startups get their beginnings through these business pitch contests. Just about every major business school or university in the United States now has a student entrepreneurship competition. For example, you may have heard of the Rice Business Plan Competition, The MIT Clean Energy Competition, NYU Stern New Venture and Social Venture Competitions, Harvard Business Plan Competition, MIT $100k Entrepreneurship Competition, or the Wharton Business Plan Competition among hundreds of others.
We may expect with the head start in entrepreneurship the United States has had, that we should also have the largest student pitch competitions. And while these university competitions have hefty awards and a fair number of student competitions (The Rice Business Plan competition boasts $1.3 Million in cash and prizes to winning teams), unfortunately, this doesn't come close to the sheer number of participants in the largest competition who are now learning how to build their own startups. So who’s the biggest? Probably not who you would expect.
Launched only three years ago in 2015, the “China College Students' Internet Plus Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition” dominates over other student entrepreneurship competitions across the globe. With more than 1.5 million students from 2,241 universities and colleges participating (according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua), this Chinese competition is far and away the largest entrepreneurial competition by participation.
In Wait a minute—China and entrepreneurship? Since when did communism support so much entrepreneurial freedom? While the two concepts may not align in theory, the Chinese government seems to have realized that a national push for entrepreneurship is good for their economy. That has translated into massive government support for entrepreneurship along with support from its universities.
According to the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences, whatever the government and colleges have been doing is working. From 2011 to 2017, the number of students starting a business upon graduation in China has risen from 1.6 percent to 3.0 percent. In 2017 that meant about 200,000 new Chinese entrepreneurs entered the economy upon graduation.
"Peking University cultivated my entrepreneurship. And central government policy supports an environment favorable for making innovations," says Dai Wei, the founder and CEO of Ofo, a bike-sharing company that raised over $700 million in funding in July (Xinhuanet). The Chinese government has impressed upon educators the need to be better and to even put their theories and teaching into practice. Teachers are even being encouraged to turn their research into a product and start their own businesses.
How successful China’s entrepreneurial push will be remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it shows that there is a strong interest from China in encouraging the next generation of home-grown global business leaders. The launch of a national entrepreneurial pitch competition for college students demonstrates a strong, central drive to accelerate new entrepreneurial leaders. And the numbers are in China's favor. With nearly three times the number of students in colleges in China versus the United States, this may be an entrepreneurial machine in the making.
The Chinese government has only recently shifted the economy to one driven by consumer spending. So, the concept of entrepreneurship is a relatively new one for them. Does this mean that Chinese entrepreneurial growth is only beginning? We will have to wait and see how this competition expands over the years, and what that means for the Chinese startup economy. What we can take away from all of this for the United States is that perhaps the idea of a national entrepreneurship student competition and overarching economic initiative is not such a bad idea. Could a coordinated national youth entrepreneurship competition turn around the downward trend in entrepreneurial interest seen in the Gallup Hope Index? It may be time to try. Youth entrepreneurship in the United States is still strong, but there are troubling signs on the horizon and there are strong competitors coming up who want to take the reins on the global entrepreneurial ecosystem. It will be an interesting competition in and of itself to see who will maintain the global entrepreneurial leadership in the years to come.