FEATURES: Alumnus hosts entrepreneurship seminars for HS students

Shriya Karam '19
by Shriya Karam '19
Published in the February 2019 edition of the Peabody Press.

Muralist Adrien Saporiti ‘06 returns to his alma mater to help students develop business ideas.
by Shriya Karam '19

This article appears in Tigers on Edgehill courtesy of The Peabody Press, the High School's monthly newspaper.

Since winter break, a group of students, Director Vince Durnan, and alumnus Adrien Saporiti ‘06 have been gathering for Lunch and Learns for students who have an interest in entrepreneurship to gain resources and knowledge on becoming an entrepreneur and life as one. 
 
Saporiti, a local entrepreneur and alumnus who helped start up the group, said that he was interested in what high school students knew about entrepreneurship and how they could expand that knowledge. 
 
“I’d been curious as to how entrepreneurship and startups were being perceived by current high school students at USN, since it wasn’t as culturally relevant when I was a student,” he said, “Dr. Durnan and I were having lunch one day and I asked him about it, and over the next several months an idea began to form, the idea of which is how to discuss and introduce ideas and concepts around entrepreneurship to high school students.”
 
The mission of the meetings is two-fold: students with an interest in business would be able to gain more insight into entrepreneurship and could also discuss their business ideas in a space that is receptive to innovation. 
 
“The goal is pretty straightforward: to use the resources of the school, specifically its alumni and extended network, to share knowledge around business and entrepreneurship with interested students, to hopefully introduce some new ideas and concepts that spark a bit of curiosity and intrigue,” Saporiti said. “In talking with people my age or older, particularly other USN alumni, each one consistently says ‘I really wish we had had something like that when I was a student.’ The goal is not to instruct, but to illuminate.”
 
Sonali Dasari ‘19, one of the members of the group, said that she got involved because of her interest in business and decided to reach out to Dr. Durnan about being a member of the group. 
 
“Dr. Durnan had the idea of starting the entrepreneurship group after Adrien Saporiti presented it at assembly. After the assembly, Dr. Durnan was wondering if anyone was interested, and I emailed him that day about a business idea that I had,” she said. 
 
While the group is still relatively new, Dasari discussed that she has felt the impact of the speakers and has gained a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship.
 
“When I think of business, I think of a job in an office from nine to five where you’re just on a computer, but with entrepreneurship, you’re involved in the process and it allows you to be super creative,” she said. “It gave me some validation to the ideas that I had, and that I could actually make these things into businesses and into reality. Also, I learned that a lot of people paint an entrepreneur’s success as a linear path, but it’s not that easy to be that successful.”
 
The meetings consist of a guest speaker who discusses what being an entrepreneur was like for them, and also a discussion between the students and speaker to ask questions and talk about their own business ideas and projects, gaining advice on how to implement their ideas. Most recently, the group hosted F. Reid Shippen, an entrepreneur in the music industry whose company is called Robot Lemon.
 
“Adrien Saporiti is the one who’s getting everyone together. This past meeting he invited [Shippen], another entrepreneur, who was in the music industry, and we got to hear his journey in entrepreneurship,” she said.
 
Looking ahead to future years, Dasari hopes that they could form a middle school group, and additionally, attract more people to the meetings. 
 
“I think that the group should be started even in middle school because that’s when you just want to jump into ideas, and you have a lot of time to devote to these ideas,” Dasari said. “I would also hope to get a wider audience as well. Hosting open meetings to learn more about it would be beneficial for everyone.”
 
Saporiti hopes that the students will apply the information and skills they gained, to not only business, but in other areas of life. 
 
“I hope my students take away a memorable experience, some useful tools in communicating and the importance of relationships, an understanding of what goes in to being an entrepreneur, and hopefully a bit of enthusiasm and confidence that they can find their own solutions and blaze their own path in whatever area of life they need to,” he said.
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