By Tess ’25
Having applied to Harvard-Westlake in 2020-2021, my first experience on campus was a summer program called HW Inc. HW Inc. is a part of Harvard-Westlake’s larger entrepreneurship program HW Venture and is a six-day application-only camp for Harvard-Westlake students.
On the first day of Inc., I trekked up to the gallery on the Upper Campus. Throughout that first day, we did team-building and skill-building activities. At the end of the day, we did an activity called “Pitch Yourself.” Essentially, we each had to tell the rest of the group what we, as people, are all about, and what we wanted to get out of this week of camp. That came in handy the next day when we chose groups to work on the final project with.
That project is a big part of the program. From Tuesday to Saturday, we worked in groups of three to six on coming up with a business plan and a presentation for when we pitched our businesses to a panel of judges who work in the field of venture capital and parents. We were given conference rooms or other spaces in the library to work, where we collaborated with our groups and with the coaches who were each experienced in a field of business. Also, there were slide decks that the amazing student team who ran Inc. and professionals presented in order to guide us. For example, when teaching us what an MVP is, and what we were expected to create or simulate, the team used the example of DoorDash. We learned that DoorDash’s founders took calls and delivered food themselves until DoorDash grew and that approach was no longer sustainable.
My team created a website platform that enables teenagers to find internships and community service opportunities, and for those who have such opportunities to find capable students to take part. There were many other amazing creations, such as a platform that allows you to plan when you need to leave for the airport in order to catch your flight, a spray that stops your ice cream from melting, and a robot that sorts fruits and vegetables into rotten and fresh piles so that grocery stores don’t have to pay for produce they cannot sell. The week was an unforgettable experience that taught me about leadership, teams, and innovation. There was also amazing food, swag, boba, candy, a piñata, and more, keeping the energy up all week long.
When the opportunity came to be on the student team that runs Inc., I of course applied. I was delighted to begin working with the team in mid-October. Since then, we have planned new team-building activities, arranged speakers, and have many more surprises in store, and we would love to have you join us!