The Entrepreneur Academy program for high school students starts up again Feb. 26

Students, mentors, staff and board members of The Entrepreneur Academy
Students, mentors, staff and board members of The Entrepreneur Academy make the “T” symbol, representing TEA for The Entrepreneur Academy.
(Amanda San Martin)

Business Spotlight:

The nonprofit Entrepreneur Academy is accepting applications for its high school entrepreneurship program that starts Saturday, Feb. 26.

It all started in 2011, when the South Coast chapter of the nonprofit TIE (The Indus Entrepreneur) began supporting and sponsoring TYE (TIE Young Entrepreneurs). TIE is a global organization started in Silicon Valley 30 years ago. TYE teaches high school students about business and entrepreneurship with instruction by college professors and mentorship by successful entrepreneurs. The students form four-person teams and come up with an idea for a business that they develop and pitch before local entrepreneurs who serve as judges. The winning team moves on to pitch at a global competition.

“This program is basically to teach high school kids about entrepreneurship,” said Sandeep Varma, chairman of The Entrepreneur Academy and an entrepreneur himself as president of ATS Wealth Management. “They work together with mentors to develop their idea and put together a pitch. They pitch it to the judges ‘Shark Tank’ style.”

Varma said “San Diego’s time has come” to be recognized as a hub of entrepreneurship, similar to Silicon Valley. “We have so much potential here,” he said. “We’re a hub for biotech and telecommunications, among other industries, and we have lots of start-up companies and entrepreneurs that our young people can learn from.”

The program is designed to add an extra dimension to the education that children get in the classroom. “It’s one thing for kids to get good grades and get a job,” Varma said. “But it’s another to teach them that you can start your own company. And once you start to think like an entrepreneur, it changes the course of your future.”

He said students have embraced the opportunity to add the program to their busy schedules because it’s fun and they can see how it can help them in the future, starting with their college applications.

“We’re hoping we can do it in person at UC San Diego, as we have in the past,” Varma said. “If not, we’ll have to look at alternatives.”

Varma said he wants to put together a special reward for students who will be taking part in the program.

“I would like to charter a plane and I’d like to fly the kids up to the Bay Area for a day trip to have a private tour of the Apple ‘spaceship’ building, Google, Tesla and Facebook,” he said. “I think it would be a life-altering event. We’ve never done that before. I think we can do it.”

The Entrepreneur Academy is at 5435 Oberlin Drive, San Diego. For more information, call Executive Director Dana Losbog at (650) 776-2368 or visit

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