How Startup Apprentice Got Started

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.

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

Social Mission & Purpose

Startup Apprentice is a social enterprise, inspired by the social and philanthropic sectors operating as a business for social purpose.  All profits generated by the business are reinvested to continue to support our mission.  We want to equip 1,000,000 young minds with the essential entrepreneurial mindset skills needed for their future working life. We want to provide schools with a method to introduce 21st Century Project Based Learning to their students by complementing the current curriculum. We want to introduce technology based skills to students and promote collaboration and sharing of skills between experienced entrepreneurs, university students and school aged students.  We want to inspire our young apprentices to think about the impact they can make in their future working life, that’s why social change is embedded into the core of our business model. We hope you will join us in our “Pay it Forward” mission.

Meet The Founders

Thought Leaders. Change Makers. Community Builders.

Sharon Hunneybell and Sam Winter became synonymous with student entrepreneurship when they pioneered Australia’s first high school startup accelerator program.

‘Startup Apprentice’ launched their first program on the Gold Coast in 2013 and a year later made news again as a collaborator in what is now Australia’s largest high school technology awards program – The Mayor’s Telstra Technology Awards.

The support and encouragement of thousands of young innovators to bring their ideas to life saw Sharon and Sam recognised as ‘Innovation Champions’ by the Queensland Government.

Sharon and Sam’s greatest strength is their ability to create experiential learning experiences for students, allowing them to develop new mental and emotional business skills that can only learned by doing.

Leveraging their own experiences and expertise in technology, innovation and digital communication, the team designed

Startup Apprentice programs, workshops and events to emulate and expose young people to real world challenges and to provide tangible resources and connections that can help them unlock their skillsets, recognise skillsets in others and reach out for assistance from mentors and subject matter experts.

In 2018, the creation of Australia’s first Student Startup Landing Pad at the Gold Coast Innovation Hub provided the greatest opportunity so far for the team to deliver a truly immersive student experience by integrating a student zone into a workspace for entrepreneurs – allowing them to become part of a broader entrepreneurial community and to leverage and learn from the experiences of the startup founders within the building.

Sharon Hunneybell
Sharon HunneybellCo-founder
Business and technology nut! Passionate about entrepreneurial education, painting and dancing.

Sam Winter
Sam WinterCo-founder
Business and organising bean! Passionate about entrepreneurial education, stillness, photography and silliness.

“Teaching kids how to nourish their creativity and curiosity, while still providing a sound foundation in critical thinking, literacy and math, is the best way to prepare them for a future of increasingly rapid technological change.”

Peter Diamandis, Co-Founder Singularity University

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