How Startup Apprentice Began

One in seven. That’s how many people under 25 are unable to find a job in Australia, the US and UK.

Over the last 20 years the workforce has evolved to a service based economy but the education system still rewards knowledge over ability. Employers are looking for soft skills such as leadership, teamwork, resilience, communication and creativity.

After running several successful Startup Weekends on the Gold Coast, Sharon and Sam were inspired by a spark of an idea after seeing an increase of teens pitching and participating in their startup weekends. They thought, wow wouldn’t this be cool to teach to teenagers?

And that’s how Startup Apprentice started … before they knew it, their idea was picked up by the Gold Coast City Council, Smith Family Partnership Brokers and Varsity College and an eight week program came to life.

Startup Apprentice was just a whim of an idea, but the demand was high and after researching how their business could be an impactful social enterprise they discovered that the youth unemployment rates were three times as high as adults and the Gold Coast youth unemployment in particular was higher than average.

So they decided that Startup Apprentice would be best suited to intervention. By introducing the lean startup methodology to high school students they hope that they can inspire them to think differently about their working life before they get to the dole queue (You can read more about their social mission here).

Are you going to join them in their mission to inspire 1,000,000 million young minds?



Sharon Hunneybell

Sharon has a passion for technology, innovation and collaboration and has a keen interest in promoting and increasing female and youth participation in startups and technology.

Sharon has been an active contributor to the Queensland startup ecosystem, fulfilling roles at both Silicon Lakes, a not for profit startup community for entrepreneurs on the Gold Coast and ilab, Queensland’s biggest technology accelerator, before teaming up with Sam to create Startup Apprentice.

Sharon started her first business when she was 23 as a young mother which she ran for three years before selling it to return to the corporate world with a new focus on IT. After moving to the Gold Coast QLD, she decided to work as a consultant allowing her more flexibility to immerse herself in the startup ecosystem.

Sharon was named as one of three finalists in the Start-up Leader category of the 2014 Westpac Community Leaders Awards, an annual event designed to recognise and reward individuals making extraordinary contributions to the social fabric of their communities.

Sam Winter

Sam has a passion for building businesses that make a social impact and loves educating and supporting fellow social entrepreneurs in a cohesive collaborative way.

Sam has been an active participant and contributor in the Gold Coast startup ecosystem since moving from Sydney three years ago. While volunteering at Silicon Lakes, a not for profit startup community for entrepreneurs on the Gold Coast, where Sam teamed up with Sharon to create Startup Apprentice.

Sam has been an online entrepreneur for 10 years with a background in PR, marketing, communications and events management in both the private and government sectors. Sam was a finalist in 2011 at the Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Online Business Awards.

Sam is an Alumni graduate of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, Marie Forleo’s B-School and Jonathan Fields Rev U programs.