Panel with David Harkin from 8billionideas

Date: 18 Mar 2021
Time: 18:00 to 19:30

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8billionideas - Unleashing entrepreneurial spirit within school children 

The importance of entrepreneurship is not to be understated. If successful, an entrepreneur’s innovation may improve standards of living, create wealth, jobs and contribute to a growing economy. 

The rise of self-employed entrepreneurs is tipping, and exceeding 15% in some global economies. Schools produce more entrepreneurs than any other profession, but it isn’t 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. 

This is something which David Harkin, Founder and CEO of 8billionideas Ltd, is already working towards and, next month, he will launch a new, online platform to spark the entrepreneurial spirit  within school children across the world.

Speaking at a recent Milton Keynes Business Leaders Partnership (MKBLP) event, entrepreneur and TEDx speaker, David shared his passion for instilling the skills and belief within students that they need in the future to be happy, successful and change the world.

An early stage online educational firm, 8billionideas, which originally operated under the name, 7billionideas, has engaged with over 100,000 students globally since its launch in 2014. 

Inspired to teach what children don’t learn in school, 8billionideas originally 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. 

“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.”

Faced with Covid-19, 8billionideas switched its platform online, providing accessible education to all children, teaching them the skills and belief to change the world. While David candidly discussed the difficulties in the early days of the pandemic in making the transition to online, by the summer they were running courses in 44 countries around the world. 

At this point, the company switched its name from 7billionideas, to reflect the change in direction: “We had to build a new platform which centralised on live experiences. Effectively a child could jump on at any hour of the day and take part in virtual workshop, facilitated by a training expert.”

To realise this vision, the company needed investment. In January this year, this came in the shape of £600k from Private Equity firm, Excelsior Global Group, in the largest Private Equity seed funding in an EdTech company. This capital will now be allocated towards creating new content and developing the 8billionideas platform, which will be launched in April 2021.

On the corporate arm of 8billionideas, David highlighted how without entrepreneurship, many businesses wouldn’t have survived. “As business leaders we need to create cultures of business leaders who can come forward with ideas.”