Eighth grader Teddy Goldwyn has been working with his mentor Charlie Paradis for over a year now. Their pairing embodies the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun” – when we sat down with both of them, they marveled as they tallied up the months they’d been collaborating together on topics ranging from NFTs, to venture capital, to entrepreneurship and sneaker culture.
Their story began when Teddy, who hails from LA, expressed a general interest in learning more about business. Spending much of his middle school experience in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Teddy was eager to know what his parents, both businesspeople, were talking about on their work calls.
Enter Charlie: a junior at Harvard, who took a year off from college during COVID to work in venture capital. “During that year off, I got a lot of experience with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists that I hadn't gotten before I saw about 500 or more companies.” When Charlie returned from his gap year to Harvard, he became the head lecturer at the Harvard Ventures club, putting together slide decks to teach over 100 new members the fundamentals of VC.
When the semester had ended, Charlie thought “okay now I want to continue teaching this.” And Charlie doesn’t shy away from introducing Teddy to “a lot of hard material…I like to joke with Teddy that the material that we're looking at is at a collegiate level and he's learning it before even getting to high school. But really what we aim to do is integrate some of the statistical and qualitative measures of what makes an entrepreneur and of what makes a venture capitalist into his interests. He's put together an NFT business…He's now heading into eighth grade. And he’s learning stuff that Harvard juniors and seniors are learning.”
Charlie has balanced a mix of challenging jumping-off material alongside curating his lessons to Teddy’s interests and projects, making said material accessible and applicable to real-world topics Teddy cares about: “A lot of the material can translate to all sorts of students…basketball is something [Teddy] really cares about. He got interested in NFTs, as I mentioned before…So instead of talking about what a product market fit is, we'll talk about how his NFTs appeal to his friends. And then we'll be able to sort of translate that into what it means for a broader company.” The two bounce ideas off each other as equals, a process Charlie describes as “ideating where you're just sitting with, another entrepreneur and sort of coming up with ideas and seeing how it would work and how it wouldn't work.”
A year into their mentorship, Teddy reflects that “because I learned these things–because my parents are in business–I can talk and understand things that someone at my age wouldn't probably understand. And like, I know what a venture capital firm is. And if you ask a lot of 13 year olds, I don't think they know what that is. And also, because I want to be an entrepreneur, it helps me a lot just to know what I should be doing and where to start.”
And Teddy has been doing a lot. Charlie proudly states “He's tried to tamper with drop shipping, which is basically just finding arbitrage in the market, writing a blog on collectibles. So, in the pure sense of the word, he's an entrepreneur. And what I do is I try to push him in that while also teaching him because companies are founded every single day and there are common mistakes that people make and common lessons that people learn. I try to teach him some of the basics and some of the vocabulary and information about what being an entrepreneur means.” Teddy has recently applied this information to a website that started with an “idea for selling sneakers. And then it turned into like a place where I would talk about shoes because I'm into fashion and shoes. So my idea was to talk about shoes and kind of like Yelp a little bit in a way where it's like, instead of reviewing restaurants, it's reviewing the best shoes that you should buy at this time or at that time, and when shoes are dropping. A lot of different ideas always come and go.”
Are you similarly curious to Teddy about where to start? Do you have a stream of ideas you want to turn into a business? No matter your age or prior experience, dive in this summer by signing up for our Entrepreneurship course, and work with a mentor like Charlie to nurture that interest!