Young scholars think big


Presentation day finally came for the high-school juniors and seniors in GSB Professor Waverly Deutsch’s summer course, Elements of Entrepreneurship. On July 30 the five teams of four students distilled two weeks of classes, business-plan revisions, PowerPoint slides, 30-second commercials, and interviews into five-minute presentations before ten Goldman Sachs employees and a crowd of 40 well-wishers. Rather than millions in start-up capital, laptops would go to the team with the best business plan in the Collegiate Scholars Program (CSP) course.

A rising junior at North Lawndale Preparatory High School, Crystal Adams began by recounting her unemployment during the past two summers, despite having applied for several jobs. Her team’s nonprofit organization, Skills To Succeed, would teach basic clerical skills and grant credentials to the chronically unemployed inner-city youth of Chicago’s West Side, where Adams lives.

When Adams entered the program, she was so afraid of Deutsch, who lectures in a booming voice, that she could barely squeak out a word. In two weeks Adams worked harder than ever before: “Two hours before [the presentation] I was practicing,” she recounted. “I was really nervous. But standing up there, because I am passionate about the idea, it made me less nervous because it is something that I already know and I want to do. It was really great.” Adams impressed both the audience and judges. “Crystal is like a different person,” noted Deutsch afterward. “When she first came here she could hardly speak up, and now, wow.”

Despite competition from a dessert shop, an organic restaurant, a sports league, and a recycling business, Skills to Succeed carried the day. Adams and her teammates each won new Hewlett-Packard laptops donated by the Goldman Sachs Foundation, which funds the course. It was her family’s first computer. “Crystal now has the skills to succeed,” Deutsch said after distributing the prizes. “She just came a million miles in two weeks.”

Ethan Frenchman, '08

Photos: In class a week before the presentations, dessert-shop team "Sweet Creations" mulls commercial ideas; GSB Professor Waverly Deutsch teaches the ins and outs of marketing.

Photos by Dan Dry.

August 10, 2007