Mar 20, 2024

High schoolers are working on these valuable, lesser-known startups

Business consulting began flourishing at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the American Industrial Revolution, factories continuously sought efficiency, and management sought outside consultants for insights. 

From the start, businesses relied on consultants to define problems and discover innovative solutions that enhance their company. Because consultants bring outside perspectives to the company, their ideas are often new and offer a new paradigm to the established company.

Bureaucracy and Efficiency

The most established businesses are often primed to benefit from the insights consultants provide. These companies have processes, systems, and workflows that they have built over the years that work as a double-edged sword. These systems were originally developed to create consistent results while providing efficiency. However, as these systems become more concrete, inefficacy begins to creep in.

The stability of bureaucracy seems to be at odds of the risky innovative efficiency.

Though not completely exclusive, bureaucracy and efficiency appear to often be at odds. Bureaucracy has some merit as it provides consistent results, adds protections, and allows large organizations to function. The lean, efficient model typically allows for more agility but also carries far more risk.

The Micro Startup

One way to experience both benefits is to allow for lean startups within large organizations. The bureaucratic systems keep day-to-day functions reliable, which is particularly important for revenue streams. 

Yet, relinquishing freedom to a small, chosen group can allow for new, innovative solutions that could never emerge from established systems. You can think of this as a micro startup inside the organization.

Consultants can bring that type of solution to life. When working well, consultants offer an outside view of the company's problems. The company can supply the necessary freedom and resources to bring about change – circumventing the typical red tape.

Led by the consultant or based on their insights, this group can act as a micro startup inside the organization. Free to explore new ideas, challenge the status quo, and invent new ways of doing business, this band essentially acts as entrepreneurs.

Unlike an Independent Startup

There are some very unique aspects of this type of group compared to a traditional startup –

  • Access to steady revenue (and potentially more funding)
  • A well-defined problem (since it needs to exist alongside the existing business)
  • Option to use existing systems where they are beneficial, such as billing, HR, etc.
  • Potential access to existing talent they can bring into the project

Though not all aspects of being an internal startup are great, these distinct benefits can allow for amazing advancements and solutions if taken advantage of.

Startups and Entrepreneurship Core is Problem Solving

At their core, startups are there to solve problems. Whether an independent startup or an internal group in an existing organization, the goal is always to provide an adequate solution to a customer's issue.

In this way, consulting is a type of entrepreneurship activity. Using the entrepreneurial mindset, consultants can identify the core issue, determine the scope of the problem, ideate through potential solutions, incrementally test potential solutions, and then deliver a new solution – as if they were building a company from scratch.

The core function of a consultant is bringing innovation to an existing company. The core function of an entrepreneur is bringing innovation to the market. In this way, entrepreneurship and consulting are two sides of the same coin.

LaunchX’s Innovation Program

Started in 2023, LaunchX started the Innovation Summer Program. This program still looks for high school students who have the entrepreneurial mindset that has marked Launchies for the past decade. However, the application isn’t a new startup, but rather working as a type of internal startup for an existing organization.

Companies bring genuine problems they face to teams of high school students, who then work to overcome the business problem. The practice of consulting allows students to expose themselves to a whole new skill set. 

The Innovation Program develops skills that can be particularly helpful for those who want to bring change to their community while working within established structures. 

Further, some students may never want to pursue a traditional startup because of the risk and time involved. However, students want to be positioned well to create internal value in their future careers – whatever company they work for.

Developing your entrepreneurial mindset

At LaunchX, we believe all students should develop an entrepreneurial mindset to help prepare them for success in the world. Individuals with well-developed entrepreneurial skills are poised to influence their community, city, and world through innovative change.

No matter if your passion is to build something entirely new or work within the existing system to create something better, the important next step is to begin flexing the muscle of problem-solving.

Thomas Clapper
Thomas Clapper
Marketing and Brand Manager
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