Sacramento area Green Tech students participate in Tahoe entrepreneurial experience

Submitted to the Tribune
Jamie Orr, co-owner of Cowork Tahoe and Untethered, and Green Tech students work on their startup pitch.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Recently, a group of teens from the Sacramento Area arrived in South Lake Tahoe for the weekend. However, unlike many visitors, they were not here for a weekend getaway of hiking, skiing, or beachtime. These students were participating in an intense weekend entrepreneurial experience that they had been preparing for for months in advance. 

The teens are participants in a Business Entrepreneurship program with Green Technical Education and Employment (Green Tech), a Sacramento area nonprofit charged with providing quality workforce skills, education and health strategies to maintain sustainable communities.

Green Tech collaborates with community partners to stimulate economic development by means of academic and professional engagement of high school students and young adults from economically disadvantaged communities and was organized to address multiple academic and economic deficiencies in these communities. Students receive academic and career technical education to develop proficiency and networking opportunities for the necessary resources to secure gainful employment, management and create jobs in the green economic sector. 

To bring the students to Lake Tahoe, Green Tech recently partnered with Dr. Jamie Orr and Untethered Workspace to provide an exciting capstone experience as part of the Green Tech Business Entrepreneurship program. 

Working with lead instructor Cornelius Brown at GreenTech for several months each Saturday, outside of their normal school and work responsibilities, the group developed a business model for a new venture that they wanted to pursue. They were taught foundational skills in small business development & ownership as well as project management and collaborative strategies. 

“The purpose of the project was to provide the students with a real-world experience with a dose of academic rigor. Jamie was the perfect partner to complete this one-two punch,” said Brown with Green Tech.

Upon arriving in Tahoe, the students were taken through additional workshops in entrepreneurship as well as design and systems thinking with Dr. Orr. One highlight was taking a hike through the forest to Nevada Beach to then complete one workshop outside instead of inside the workspace at Untethered. 

Over the course of the weekend, the group of eight students worked to refine and strengthen their business model  to create a clothing brand concept that was both sustainable, but still affordable for a broad customer base, all designed by the teens. The students also wanted their brand, Kids of the Future, to help inspire other teens to start small businesses of their own, and included the goal of hosting informational community workshops to inform teens on what it takes to run a business.

The final project the teens had to complete was a formal business pitch to a panel of professionals. The event format was styled after the popular television show, “Shark Tank, ” but modified to be friendlier for the students. “We wanted the event to be motivational and supportive for the students since it was their first time ever pitching a business like this, so we redesigned the format to be more of a Tahoe Tessie Tank than a Shark Tank,” said Jamie Orr. 

The panel of judges included David Wise, founder of the Tahoe STEM Academy, Brendan Norman, startup founder, and honored guest, Nevada State Senator and President Pro Tempore, Dr. Pat Spearman. Each judge provided valuable constructive feedback and advice to the students after their presentation.

The pitch event was a huge success with the students beaming with pride afterwards where before many had expressed how truly nervous they were to speak. They even made a few sales of their inaugural Kids of the Future t-shirt. 

Reflecting on the  weekend, Orr said, “I am thrilled with how this whole entrepreneurial experience went. The students were amazing to work with and I hope that the partnership with Green Tech and our Lake Tahoe community continues to bring more awareness to opportunities for students in green careers, including in small business and entrepreneurship.”

More information about Green Tech can be found on their website:

Cornelius Brown with Green Tech Ed introduces the students before their Kids of the Future pitch.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.