Over the summer, Fordham University hosted dozens of area teens on campus to learn how to parlay their passions into profitable businesses, with the help of the Internet.
And the instructors knew their material firsthand— as it happens, they were teens themselves.
Marc and Michael Guberti, 16 and 18 years old, respectively, are two budding teachers and entrepreneurs getting a jump on their own careers before even setting foot in a college classroom.
Marc attends Fordham Prep, and Michael is an incoming Gabelli School freshman.
They said they got the idea for the Teenager Entrepreneur program while blogging about their favorite baseball teams and learning to build an online audience.
“As we were becoming more successful we thought, why not share this knowledge with other teenagers?” said Marc Guberti. They incorporated their online promotional strategies into the course design, got space in Faber Hall and other support from Fordham, and held three weeklong sessions in July, each attended by about a dozen teens.
“Teenager Entrepreneur is a boot camp where we empower teenagers,” Marc Guberti said. Students learn “how they can identify their passions, what they love in life, how to turn those passions into products, promote those products using social media and blogging, and propel themselves to future success.”
Networking and business ethics are also part of the program, he said, because “without them, success is futile.” One boot camper—Matthew Occhiocone, 16, a student at Eastchester High School in Eastchester, N.Y.—said he learned to make an e-book via iTunes and Amazon. Selling things via eBay and other sites was also covered.
Occhiocone said he plans to create an e-book about his grandfather, who lived under a bridge for a month as a destitute immigrant but now owns a leather goods store in Port Chester, N.Y. Occhiocone also started a blog.
He found the boot camp absorbing and thrilling. “I honestly felt like that I was there for an hour, even though I was there all day,” he said. “It inspired me to see how far I could go with business.”
Most of the students came from the Bronx and Westchester County, and some interested teens had to be turned away because of space constraints. Some participants who came from financially disadvantaged families received sponsorships to attend.
The Gubertis will offer the boot camp next year and live-stream it nationally and internationally. They also maintain a membership website (www.teenagerentrepreneur.com) with information on their published works and media mentions, and about the boot camp.
When they’re not building their business enterprise and establishing their expertise, the Gubertis find time for Wiffle Ball, running, bicycling, and working out.
“We’re still kids,” Michael Guberti said. “We still have a great time.”