By Gregory Okello and Leng Tian Teo

An inspirational documentary, Generation Startup (2016) tells the true story of six young college graduates with different backgrounds who take on the challenges of entrepreneurship in and around Detroit. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the College of Business, we’ll be showing Generation Startup as the first documentary and the third film overall in our Careers, Conflicts, and Callings series at Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 7 pm in Stark 103 Miller Auditorium.

The six young entrepreneurs are Labib, who works in a masonry company; Kate, who works in a Detroit laboratory; Dextina from Rock Ventures company; and Avery, Max, and Brian, founders of Banza. The documentary examines the proposition that in America, there is no single clear path to starting a company, and this is one reason why entrepreneurship among 18- to 30-year-olds is at a staggering low.  One New York nonprofit, “venbture for America, has taken as its mission the goal to help the next generation of young people create business opportunities and encourage them to start businesses by giving them the resources and skills they need.

Brian and Avery at Banza Factory

Award-winning directors Cheryl Wade and Cynthia Houser found the film’s six young subjects working in a variety of jobs. They hoped to try to start their own businesses but were hesitant to do so.  Wade and Houser spent 17 months observing the process of the six and their startups from start to finish.  We found the film to offer these takeaways relevant to this year’s University Theme, “Career Readiness”:

Prove yourself. Labib’s parents strongly opposed to his son’s entrepreneurship. They were worried because if Labib failed, then he couldn’t feed himself. This made them pressure him to have a normal job. However, through his own efforts, Labib proved his ability and made some achievements in entrepreneurship making his parents believe in him again.

Trust your mentors.  Dextina Booker wants to get through M.I.T and seeks consolation from a mentor teacher who openz her eyes to amazing possibilities that she did not know about. In this regard we are encouraged that whenever we face pressure, we should not bear it alone and instead get someone to talk to.

Tough it out. Banza’s co-founder Max always remembered how hard it was at the beginning when living in a dilapidated house with his partner Brian. They not only had to deal with entrepreneurship, but also the harsh living environment. If these experiences are easily forgotten, they may quickly degenerate when they people succeed.

Know your direction. Understanding the direction of your startup needs can effectively avoid unnecessary mistakes.  Starting a business requires adequate research and understanding, such as marketing, customer orientation, cost budgeting, sponsorship, etc.

Stay optimistic. We have to take stock, tread carefully and regain our buoyancy as this can help us gain success.

Again, Generation Startup will be showing at 7 pm on October 8, 2019 in Miller Auditorium (Stark 103). Our guest Will Kitchen from College of Business will speak to present the entrepreneurial program (Warrior Innovate Challenge).  In addition we will have Ben Strand (Winona Main Street Project Manager) and Nathaniel Nelson, both from Treedome, to talk about their own experience when starting their own start up.  Please join us for this and all of the films in this year’s series!


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Gregory Okello

Film Studies Major

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