Khrystaphauer Skinner is just 16, yet he’s serious about starting a street-art business.

He attended a summer program offered by the Los Angeles Urban League and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship designed to get kids excited about business. At the end of the camp, students pitched a concept for a business “Shark Tank” style. Skinner won the top prize of $1,000.

Skinner said his idea is to get building owners to hire his company to paint street art on walls. He noted that the murals could help prevent vandalism by giving street artists a way to legally make money.

“In reality, graffiti is an art,” he said. “We’re giving it a new name, a new meaning, a new mold.”

One of the judges this year, Brandon Chretien, believes it’s important for young entrepreneurs to develop their personalities as much as their business skills.

“Ultimately what makes successful serial entrepreneurs is that they have the ability to sell people on them and their business,” said Chretien, owner of Beverly Hills consulting firm CLC Group.

Estelle Reyes, who helped run the program, said it teaches basic business skills, including opportunity recognition, market research, financials, and conception of sales and promotions.

She said NFTE’s business camps spur an interest in business by showing students how economics can improve their lives.

“The most exciting thing about teaching entrepreneurship is that the students see it as hope, and to be able to utilize their passion and skills,” Reyes said. “It gives them the resources to turn that into a business that can be lucrative for themselves and their families and their communities.”

– Philip Joens

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