A young St. John’s founder is launching an entrepreneurship camp to teach kids the basics of running a startup, with the help of counsellors hired from Memorial University’s business school.

Vivienne Wilkinson, aged 13, is the creator of Venture Camp, a startup-focused summer camp that will run this August 12 to 16. The program will teach 10- to 15-year-olds the basics of how startups are created, such as idea validation and the basics of finance, before culminating in a pitch competition with a $1,000 prize.

In an interview Tuesday, she said she became interested in launching a summer camp after looking for one to attend and finding little of interest.

“There are a lot of organizations that want to help founders of businesses, but it’s limited if you’re under 18,” she said. “I noticed there weren’t many camps that I would want to do, or that were interesting business-wise, or for people who would rather not do sports-based activities.”

Venture Camp will be held at the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, and Wilkinson said if it proves popular this year, she hopes to make it an annual event.

“One of the business goals of venture camp is creating and becoming the next generation of entrepreneurs, so there will be a wave of young people who have the skills and the entrepreneurship experience to start businesses,” she said.

Nor is this Wilkinson's first foray into business. Her mother, Andrea King, is Director of Media and Government Relations at Nasdaq and previously held a similar role at Verafin, until it was sold to the New York finance giant for US$2.75 billion.

Wilkinson recalled a prior venture in which she, her sister and King collected sea urchins from beaches and used them to make unique Christmas decorations they sold in local markets and gift shops. The ornaments proved popular enough that the trio sold them for several successive years.

"It actually worked pretty well," said Wilkinson. "We made some money from it. It was a fun business idea."