‘We were going into schools and causing havoc’. Platform aims to inspire entrepreneurship in students

Apr 08, 2021

A NEW online platform is set to ignite the entrepreneurial spirit of schoolchildren across the world.

Investment of £600,000 from a private equity house has enabled online educational firm 8billionideas to develop new content that will inspire entrepreneurship in the next generation.

The new platform is due to launch later this month.  It is the realisation of a vision that began seven years ago, 8billionideas founder and chief executive David Harkin told a forum of business leaders in Milton Keynes.

David Harkin

An early stage online educational firm, 8billionideas has engaged with over 100,000 students globally since its launch in 2014. Faced with Covid-19, the business switched its platform online, providing accessible education to all children, teaching them the skills and belief to change the world.

Mr Harkin outlined the difficulties in the early days of the pandemic in making the transition to online but by the summer the company was running courses in 44 countries. 

Originally named 7billionideas, at this point the company updated its name. “We had to build a new platform which centralised on live experiences,” Mr Harkin told the forum, hosted by Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership.

“Effectively a child could jump on at any hour of the day and take part in virtual workshop, facilitated by a training expert.”

Inspired to teach what children do not learn in school, 8billionideas created a series of bespoke programmes and initiatives geared towards helping pupils of all ages to ‘Think Big Dream Big’ and achieve their creative potential in the business world. 

Mr Harkin said: “We were, effectively, going into schools and causing havoc, encouraging students to come up with an idea which would change the world in 20 minutes and proving to them that they all had amazing imaginations.

“There were pockets of activity around entrepreneurship and innovation within schools but nobody was talking about it strategically – we wanted to change that.”

The rise of self-employed entrepreneurs is accelerating, exceeding 15% in some economies, he added. Schools produce more entrepreneurs than any other profession but entrepreneurship is not on the curriculum.

With 85% of the jobs which will be vital to the economy in 2030 not even in existence yet, schools need to promote curiosity, creativity and innovation, Mr Harkin said. 

To realise this vision, the company secured the £600,000 investment from private equity firm Excelsior Global Group – the largest private equity seed funding in an EdTech company.

The 8billionideas platform will be launched this month.Without entrepreneurship, many businesses would not have survived the impact of the pandemic, Mr Harkin said.

“As business leaders, we need to create cultures of business leaders who can come forward with ideas.” 

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