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Clarksville Montgomery County School System Students Engage in the Entrepreneurial Spirit


Clarksville-Montgomery County School System - CMCSSMontgomery County, TN – It’s not common for a group of high school students to be encouraged to “disrupt,” but that is exactly what students from the Academies at CMCSS were encouraged to do this morning.

Seventy students from each of the seven CMCSS High School College and Career Academies convened at the Clarksville Regional Airport for “Engaging in the Entrepreneurial Spirit.”

Academy students researching Mark Clevelands app.

Academy students researching Mark Clevelands app.

The purpose of the event was for students to explore what an entrepreneur is and how an entrepreneur thinks, by spending time with a successful entrepreneur.

Mark Cleveland, owner and CEO of Hobby Express, co-founder and CEO of Hytch, and Nashville’s 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year, spent a few hours with students sharing his journey in entrepreneurship, which started when he was in fifth grade. Staying true to values, never letting a fear of failure hold you back, and living up to your potential were just a few of the many lessons Cleveland shared with students.

Cleveland graciously, and humbly, answered questions from students ranging from “What made your first business so successful?” to “Do you feel apprehension when switching between different projects?”

Mark Cleveland, owner and CEO of Hobby Express, co-founder and CEO of Hytch addressing students.

Mark Cleveland, owner and CEO of Hobby Express, co-founder and CEO of Hytch addressing students.

“There is so much potential in this room,” Cleveland said addressing the students. Through personal stories, Cleveland shared how he challenges himself to be his very best by thinking differently, continuing to learn, seeking out mentors, and leveraging constraints.

Cleveland walked students through the design, pitch, and launch of two of his newest businesses: Hytch, an app that reduces traffic by matching people who have a similar trip so they can share the ride, and Stanza Hotel, which was born out of the constraints of the property Cleveland purchased.

Both of these projects “disrupt” the status quo, which is a theme that prevailed throughout Cleveland’s time with the students.

After a lunch provided by the Clarksville-Montgomery County Education Foundation, the second half of the day focused on the Verizon App Contest, a nationwide contest in which middle and high school students are challenged to develop concepts for mobile apps that solve a problem in their community.

Academy teachers and Mark Cleveland.

Academy teachers and Mark Cleveland.

Students had the opportunity to Skype with Phil Puthumana, Program Manager for Education Technology at the Verizon Foundation, from his office on the East Coast. Puthumana stated “after a team wins at the national level, members learn coding from MIT experts who help them get their app ready to launch in an online app marketplace.”

After receiving further instructions from teachers, students worked in teams to brainstorm ideas for an app concept. Teams of students from all seven CMCSS Academies will submit concepts for the contest.




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