Lizzie Sheets

ELKHART — A new entrepreneurial startup is set to begin for high schoolers throughout Elkhart County this fall.

Startup Moxie, which originated in St. Joseph County in 2015, will officially start its pilot program in August with a group of 22 students from Elkhart Central and Memorial, Concord, Northridge, Northwood and Jimtown.

The goal behind the program is to teach students to have an entrepreneurial mindset to help them create success in all areas of their lives, according to Lizzie Sheets, who was recently hired as the program’s facilitator.

A native of Highland, Indiana, Sheets currently resides in Goshen. She’s a 2012 graduate of Indiana University of South Bend and has an entrepreneurial background, with experience in product management, sales and event coordination.

As the program facilitator, Sheets will create a learning environment in which high school students explore and experience entrepreneurship through real-life activities.

Throughout the year, students will learn about local businesses and the Elkhart community through guest speakers, on-site business tours and the creation of their own startup business.

Additionally, they’ll also be matched with a mentor from local businesses, pitch their business plans to an investor panel and work together to host class events.

“It’s very different than your typical school setting,” Sheets said of the class. “We want to really expose the students to a lot of different business fields they could get into as well as expose them to what our community has to offer.”

Startup Moxie classes meet Monday - Friday from 7:30 to 9 a.m. in the business community – meaning a different business each morning – to learn what it takes to start a business.

The class counts for four high school credits and six dual credits through Ivy Tech.

Sheets said she’s “honored and humbled” to help launch the Startup Moxie program in Elkhart County and expose students to the challenges and excitement of entrepreneurship.

“I feel this program is life-changing for a lot of these students and I’m just excited,” she said. “This isn’t a program that’s specifically focused on business students. We really want a broad range of kids who are passionate about something and want to take that passion farther than they’ve been able to …. And we’re using entrepreneurship as a vehicle to get their passion and ideas out into the world.”

Amish Shah, CEO of Kem Krest, who serves on the board of directors for the program, offered a similar sentiment.

“I’m so excited for Startup Moxie in Elkhart County because it’s truly a life-changing, immersive experience for students,” said Shah. “I think Lizzie is going to do a great job helping these kids learn about their passions and become the next job of entrepreneurs."

 The program is being brought to Elkhart County through a partnership between the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and RISE (Regional Innovation and Startup Education).

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