Estimated reading time: 2 minute(s)
This is the second of five EQ stories from SXSW. Read the rest here.
It’s never too early to start a company.
Lachlan Johnson was only 12 years old when she started toy and fashion accessory company Flipoutz. Now 20, she is on her third startup, Trep-ology, which teaches children entrepreneurial skills. Johnson’s impressive track record is also the reason she was invited to speak at SXSW on a panel about the entrepreneurial inclination of her peers: Generation Z (anybody born after 1995).
Fellow panelist Tim Hayden’s stay in Austin was short and intense. The director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at St. Louis University not only judged startups for the SXSW Accelerator competition, he also helped organize the Gen Z panel. The other participants were the director of the Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Syracuse University Sean Branagan, Elite Daily’s editor-in-chief Kaitlyn Cawley, and of course fellow Billiken Johnson.
“Gen-Zers have learned a lot from the gen-Xers and the baby boomers,” said Hayden. “They are more entrepreneurial-driven and more socially conscious-driven.” Hear what the managing director of Stadia Ventures had to say after the event, titled “Gen Z Startups: Influenced by Media, Reality and BS”.
What was one of the main takeaways of the panel?
What we’ve been finding is that the Gen Zers are ageing in the range from four to 20 years old. So they are still in that early category, but they are more entrepreneurial-driven and more socially conscious-driven, they’ve learned so much from the previous generations, from Millenials, the Gen-Xers and the Baby Boomers, so they are creating programs and applications and businesses that allow them to benefit from our worst practices.
Tell us about one initiative you are rolling out at St. Louis University at the moment.
The “Angels in the Outfield” competition allows high school kids to get an opportunity to pitch in the outfield of a baseball ballpark. Their Powerpoint presentation is up on the diamond vision at center field, and there are twelve multi-millionaires hanging around home field.
St. Louis has a really strong presence this year at SXSW. What does that say about the ecosystem in St. Louis?
The beauty of SXSW is that it attracts the best and the crazies. The other beauty is that St. Louis has such a strong ecosystem of entrepreneurship that we do have such a strong representation from the startup community, from the competitions, where you see the accelerator programs to the Student Startup Madness where there’s a junior at St. Louis University who is a final eight, there’s all this talent that is being embraced in Austin, and it’s being recognized as some of the best in the nation.