A Project:IDWIL (I Do What I Love) video of Tanya Hamilton, founder of IndependentYouth, a non-profit that promotes the education and growth of youth entrepreneurs. Tanya discusses the importance of entrepreneurship education, personal branding, and being tenacious when it comes to your passions.
Transcript of video:
Dan: I went to Kindergarten twice because I wouldn't sit down. I was always running around. So you might translate that somehow into what we have going on now.
Jan: Shocking. Somehow not surprised to hear that.
Dan: I've always wanted to.. you know I 've been a creative - wanting to innovate, create things, and I think that's kind of translated into my love for starting companies and developing companies.
Dan: I'm originally from St. Louis. I went to school up in New York, spent a little time in Boston. And Jan and I are actually neighbors and we, how do you put it, we would stay up at night thinking about what we would do when we actually grew up.
Jan: I was born and raised in Denmark. When we were young, my parents...we would always go to another place in Europe and the world, so we travelled a lot as a family when I was younger, so I think very early on, I had this appetite for adventure, and would very easily get restless, i think, in a lot of ways, so even when we came here - at 16, we moved to St. Louis...through university, I took some time off here and there...I spent some time back in Europe. Even after school, I spent two years travelling around - backpacking - I lived in Australia for a little while - before coming back to St. Louis and, you know, at the time getting a haircut and shaving, a pension plan and those other fun things...but I always knew that I wanted to sort of control my own destiny.
Dan: I would say that Lab1500 is an entrepreneurial center. It's a place where aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs can come together and, by being in this physical place, their ideas get pushed forward. So, we thought this space would be perfect for that, and being right on Washington Avenue - kind of in the heart of downtown St. Louis. We didn't want to just build something and then say "hey guys, use it." We wanted to really enlist the community and the whole ecosystem in kind of determining what it would be.
Jan: I think our vision for Lab1500 is really a place for people to build connections - for networking - where people just getting started can easily access people that have been there before. We're not trying to steer the people that come in here in any one direction. We don't have an agenda when it comes to what they should be doing with their ideas or their business. We're not the curators of this place - we provide the canvas and allow people to come in and really make of it what they want to. Our goal is to provide a physical space where people can come together and help each other grow.
You have young people returning to St. Louis that have a real hunger for starting their own businesses - their own projects. I think in some ways, the economy has helped St. Louis somewhat - the downturn in the economy - because when you come out of schools like Wash U., SLU, or Webster - it's a lot cheaper being unemployed in St. Louis than it is New York or L.A., which causes people to stay. And when they stay, well what are they gonna do? They're going to start projects - they're going to start businesses.
Dan: St. Louis is a tremendously supportive town. I'll heard people describe other areas of the country and how cut-throat they all are. Here, with this organic building of this startup ecosystem...companies are willing to support one another. They see one success as a success for everybody. Whether it's to inspire investors to invest in some of these successes - some of these startups...or whether it's to inspire these entrepreneurs to start up new companies.
Jan: You know, part of what is so attractive now is this ground swell of activities that you're seeing all over the city. Of people just diving in and doing it. And I think I speak for both of us when I say that we're incredibly excited and happy and feel fortunate to be a part of that.