Podcast: Don Wettrick on Teaching Entrepreneurship

Don Wettrick’s father was a teacher and after attempting career number one, he decided to go back and follow in his father’s footsteps and become a teacher. He enjoyed teaching and also discovered a passion for entrepreneurship. A Dan Pink TED talk helped him realized the same principles could be utilized in the classroom.

Wettrick (@DonWettrick) doesn’t believe that every student should become an entrepreneur but he does believe they should be able to think like one. They should be able to think critically, reframe problems and collaborate and that is what led him to create STARTedUP Foundation.

The new Indianapolis nonprofit seeks to empower student entrepreneurs and innovators with collaborative immersive experiences, accelerator programs and seed funding for students under 20.

Because it’s hard to change schools quickly, Wettrick is focusing on out of school experiences and partnering with tech hubs and co-working spaces to bring high school students together. The new foundation will open with affiliates in six cities.

Wettrick speaking at Purdue Polytechnic High

What do kids need to succeed? Wettrick mentions:

  • A linchpin mindset: In Seth Godin’s thought-provoking book about making a difference, he urges people to become indispensable by being persistently generous for those you serve and creating opportunities.
  • Building a strong positive personal brand: cultivating a positive image by being mindful of what you post online. STARTedUp helps young people build a valuable LinkedIn profile.
  • Entrepreneurship: Being creative, innovative, and delivering value.

Wettrick wants to create a “New normal for students” where they’re looking for ways to add value not just pass test and chase grades.

With the help of a major benefactor, STARTedUP is launching in multiple cities and events are free to learners. “We want to create opportunity seekers, not winers or peekers,” said Wettrick.

Key Takeaways:
[1:05] Why did Don originally decide to become a teacher?
[2:01] When did Don’s fascination with innovation occur?
[3:11] Don talks about the innovation program that he’s run for the last 6 years at Noblesville Schools.
[5:09] About the STARTedUP Foundation!
[8:17] Is Don contemplating an incubator?
[10:59] Are they contemplating raising a venture fund?
[12:05] Don highlights the important skills young people need these days to be successful.
[15:43] Don highlights some more important characteristics for students and educators to have.
[19:43] About Don’s teaching of what the entrepreneurial mindset is and the basics of entrepreneurship.
[21:18] What are Don’s long-term goals for STARTedUP?
[24:42] STARTedUP Foundation’s mantra!
[27:10] Don describes how basic skills fit into their program.
[28:14] Don’s view of human development.
[29:14] How soon Don sees that this way of looking at human development will become the new norm for education.
[32:14] Where to find out more about what Don Wettrick is doing!

Mentioned in This Episode:
STARTedUP Foundation
Don Wettrick (Linkedin)
Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level, by Don Wettrick
‘The Puzzle of Motivation,’ TED Talk by Dan Pink
Noblesville Schools
Innovate WithIN
Seth Godin
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, by Seth Godin
Akimbo (Seth Godin’s Podcast)
Sarah Hernholm — Whatever It Takes (WIT)
Richard Miller (Olin College’s President)
Gary Vaynerchuk
StartEdUp Podcast

For more, see:

Stay in-the-know with innovations in learning by signing up for the weekly Smart Update.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

Subscribe to Our Podcast

This podcast highlights developing trends in K-12 education, postsecondary and lifelong learning. Each week, Getting Smart team members interview students, leading authors, experts and practitioners in research, tech, entrepreneurship and leadership to bring listeners innovative and actionable strategies in education leadership.

Find us on:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.