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Teaching an Entrepreneurial Mindset: Inside the Ice House Program

Prentiss Earl III

As an entrepreneur in residence, I'm responsible for a wide variety of projects ranging from program management and storytelling to mentoring and teaching, the latter being the main focus of this and future blog posts.

Earlier this year I was asked to facilitate and teach the Ice House Entrepreneurship Program (IHEP) to a diverse group of high school and college students as a summer pilot program. IHEP is an online learning program designed to inspire and engage learners in the fundamental aspects of an entrepreneurial mindset. In a nutshell, the program teaches students how to operate and think like an entrepreneur. IHEP is structured in a way that enables students to learn from the first hand experience of successful, real world entrepreneurs by uncovering the underlying beliefs and assumptions that drive their behavior.

What I really love about the program is that it flips the traditional classroom model, meaning students work through online course materials on their own time, and in class, apply what they've learned to a business idea that solves a problem they've identified. After applying learned knowledge to their business idea in class, students are tasked to validate their idea by engaging with the market, getting face-to-face with their potential customers. Working thru this process enables students to determine if the business idea is worth pursuing before building a robust business plan to scale the idea.


In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm not a trained educator nor have I taught a class in my life. Despite these facts I was excited for the opportunity to engage and teach students, and it turns out I'm learning as much from them as they, hopefully, are from me. I also have the good fortune of co-facilitating the class with my colleague Nancie Thomas—who is simply phenomenal. Nancie manages to teach students entrepreneurial concepts while simultaneously schooling me on student engagement and teaching pedagogy. I'm grateful for her willingness to pour her wisdom, experience and heart into this program.

The class is just getting started, and in a short period of time, stories are beginning to emerge. Breakthroughs and discoveries are happening, self-imposed barriers are breaking down and beliefs and assumptions are changing in a positive way. I look forward to sharing some of those stories with you as the IHEP class progresses.

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