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The Apprentice, Teen-Style

While The Donald has gotten all the press about his show to pick a young entrepreneur, a small private middle school in the heart of Silicon Valley has been doing him better and far longer with a program to show teens how to start up their own companies. (And with no $250k salary at the end of the rainbow either!) Here is a report from one kid's father Rich Mironov, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Rich is currently VP of Marketing at AirMagnet, a wireless network management tools vendor. His site ( includes a column about start-ups called Product Bytes.

Most founders of venture capital-backed start-ups tend toward technical degrees, MBAs and 40-something gray hair -- with a strong male bias. Here in the heart of Silicon Valley, though, there's a group of seventh-grade girls who are doing it all: writing business plans, raising venture capital, manufacturing products, and running their own profitable companies. Ten years from now, you may be working for one of them.

The Girls' Middle School ( has a required full-year course in entrepreneurship where all of the girls form companies, design products, and build defensible business plans. The highlight of the first half-year was a pitch night for actual Sand Hill VCs to get their start-up capital, complete with PowerPoint slides and an audience of 300. That started a frenzied six-month selling season for companies that made jewelry, snack foods, fleece clothing, and handbags sewn from recycled juice pouches.

[Full disclosure: While I'm related to one of these Young Turks, they still let me watch from the sidelines while they did competitive analysis, computed contribution margins, and sold to sometimes-indifferent buyers. My big challenge was to not help.]

WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN SCHOOL TODAY? Coming to the end of the year, I asked some of these proto-entrepreneurs what they've learned. See if these sound familiar.

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