Activator Entrepreneurs In Residence

Support the next generation of Aussie changemakers
FUTURE ANYTHING ACTIVATORS

Ever look back at your high school experience and wish it had been more connected to life in the ‘real world’? Want to ‘pay it forward’ by mentoring the next generation of Aussie changemakers? Can you carve out five hours to share your knowledge, expertise and insights with brilliant young people?

Yes? Join us as an Activator and help bend the future, one youth-led idea at a time.

We’re seeking thought-leaders, innovators, and all-round epic humans with diverse real-life experience to become Future Anything Activators

Future Anything’s Activate program empowers young people to design innovative, sustainable, and scalable solutions to the problems THEY care about. Delivered by educators in their own classrooms, it culminates in a school’s own ‘shark tank’ or showcase, plus a high-profile national competition with young people pitching for funding and support to launch their ideas into the real world.

Acting as an ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’, Activators are matched with an Activate school, supporting teachers and students as a mentor and cheerleader as they work through the term-long program. The Activator’s goal is to help to connect learning in the classroom to life outside the school gates.  

You don’t need to be the founder of the latest unicorn (or, indeed, an actual unicorn) to be an Activator. You just need experience of life and work in the real world; a good ear for listening; the ability to ask great questions, pivot and solve problems; and an open mind. In short, you’re an enterprising thinker. 

Got questions? Check out the FAQ below or drop us a line to [email protected].

Ready to get started? Register to be a 2023 Activator here.

How does it work?

1

Check out the FAQ below

2

Interested? Complete the Expression of Interest then sit tight; behind the scenes, we'll be matching applicants with potential schools.

3

We’ll let you know if we’ve found you a match, and invite you to accept or decline your participation (we know things might change between now and then!)

4

Before kicking off, you’ll join a short, virtual Activator workshop. You'll connect with other Activators, and be set up for Activator success. From here, we’ll introduce you to the Lead Teacher in your school.

5

Your Activator residency takes place at a time that works for you during the term that your school is delivering Activate. This usually Term 2 or 3 (March - September).

6

The Future Anything team will be on hand throughout your residency to provide you with guidance or support, and of course, to hear how things are going!

ACTIVATOR LOGISTICS FAQ

This FAQ touches on questions commonly asked before Activators register to be part of the program. If you’re already an Activator, check out our ‘getting the most from your residency FAQ’ below.

What is Activate?

The students and teachers you’ll be working with as an Activator are all taking part in Future Anything’s Activate program. It’s an in-curriculum program delivered by teachers that replaces their usual teaching in their English, Business, Science, STEM and Civics & Citizenship classes.

Students are challenged (and supported) to create enterprising ideas or for-purpose businesses that solve a real-world problem that matters to them.

Activate usually lasts a whole school term and it culminates in students pitching their innovative, scalable and sustainable ideas in their school’s own ‘shark tank’ style showcase event. Students can then also go on to apply for the Future Anything National Finals events.

Check out the short video here to hear about the program from students first-hand.

What is the ultimate goal of Activate?

Activate is designed to build enterprising mindsets, and build capability in six core competencies: Communication, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Project Management, and Adaptive Mindset.

During Activate, students are given the challenge “As an entrepreneur, pitch an innovative idea that makes your world a better place”.

Depending on their Activate subject, this ‘Driving Question’ may be adapted to align with a specific subject area. Check out other Driving Questions here.

Every school is encouraged to hold their own showcase event with students pitching and/or exhibiting their ideas in a ‘shark tank’ or market style setting. This is an inspiring and energising way to celebrate and showcase students’ hard work and accomplishments during the program.

Students all have the opportunity to apply for the Future Anything National Finals. Check out past pitches here. 

What does an Activator do?

Activators will act as an “Entrepreneur in Residence” for the school(s) they’re matched with, providing advice, mentorship and support for their young people and/or teachers. This may be a physical or virtual presence and could include:

  • Spending time 121 or with groups of Activate students listening to their business ideas, asking questions and providing constructive feedback to help them improve their idea or pivot their thinking (NB this is generally the most popular type of Activator/school engagement)
  • Running a short workshop or leading discussions on topics relating to your experience or area of expertise 
  • Joining a school-led Q&A or panel discussion
  • Acting as a judge at a school’s ‘shark tank’ style pitch event and showcase
  • Helping teachers make connections to the local business/innovation/ industry ecosystem.
  • Sharing knowledge or your personal experiences (where appropriate) or the world of work.
  • Engaging your own personal networks to connect passionate students/ teams of students with industry professionals or mentors that could help them progress their business idea further.

Do I need to be a startup founder to be an Activator?

No, though founders are very welcome to apply too! 

We’re looking for people that have diverse life experiences, and can apply their unique perspectives, insights and industry knowledge to help young people to think more broadly about the world around them, and how they could solve problems through developing innovative new ideas.

The role of the Activator is to be the conduit between school and the real world, to be a catalyst for thinking differently and to be a sounding board for building better ideas.

Some areas of expertise that might be helpful for Activators to share with students include (but are not limited to):

  • How a business works
  • Marketing/ branding
  • Finance/budgeting
  • Tech or product development
  • Prototyping
  • Testing an idea 
  • Pivoting ideas
  • Pitching/ Presenting

Please note all Activators will be required to provide evidence of a current Working with Children Check.

Do Activators need any formal qualifications?

No formal professional qualifications are required.

Instead, Activators are required to be able to demonstrate that they can offer an experience of life and work in the real world; a good ear for listening; the ability to ask great questions, pivot and solve problems; and an open mind. 

A short online workshop will be held for all Activators prior to their residencies to help prepare them for their work with schools, teachers, and students.

Please note that all Activators are required to provide evidence of a current valid Working with Children Check.

What's the time commitment?

Each Activator residency is 5-7 hours.

How these hours are committed is mutually agreed upon by the Activator and the school. For some, this could be a single day engagement, or for others the time could be in smaller sessions spread out over the course of a term or semester.

The key times for Activator/school engagement is likely be be in weeks 6-10 of the Term the schools is delivering the Activate program.  

Future Anything will introduce you directly to the key contact at your school, usually late in Term 1. 

We recommend you arrange a short call with them to connect, get to know each other and to discuss the timings that will be most convenient for you and the teacher/students. 

When does it happen?

Most schools deliver Activate in Term 2 or Term 3 of the school year.

Most Activator residencies will therefore occur between March – July or July – September.

Future Anything will introduce you to the key contact at your school directly, likely late in Term 1.

We recommend you arrange a short call with them to connect, get to know each other and to discuss the specific timings that will be most convenient for you and the teacher/students. 

Can I choose a specific school?

 No. Future Anything will match Activators with schools participating in the Activate program.

Matching will be based on a range of factors including the school’s needs and subject stream, and the Activator’s skills, experience, and availability.

Future Anything will make an introduction between the Activator and the lead teacher at their school early in Term 2.

How do we get started?

There’s be an short (45 minute) online briefing session for all Activators in early 2023. All Activators must commit to either attending the session live or watching the recording before commencing their residency.

Following the briefing session, Future Anything will introduce you directly to the key contact at your matched school.

We recommend you arrange a short call with the teacher at a mutually convenient time to get to know each other and to chat about your residency and to lock in the timings and arrangements that work for you both.   The Future Anything team will be happy to join this call if you’d like them to.

After that, how you deliver your residency is up to you and your teacher. We have purposefully left things flexible so it works for you and your school.

Do I need to visit my school in person?

No.

We anticipate the majority of Activator residencies will be delivered remotely via Microsoft Teams, Zoom or other school-based platforms. 

Future Anything has done a lot of virtual mentoring with students over the last couple of years and we have found that this works extremely well.

However, in some cases, Activators may visit a school (for example to attend their school’s showcase [pitch] event) but this is not required.

If you do arrange to visit a school , please note that you must comply with with the school’s COVID-19 guidelines and safety/risk management procedures. Please check these before arranging to visit.

We suggest you discuss the location/delivery model for your residency with your liaison teacher contact during your initial call. 

Can I share images of my interactions with students?

All schools have protocols around sharing images of their students on social media. Please be sure to check in with your key teacher contact before sharing any images of students.

It is generally fine to share images where students cannot be individually identified.

What is a Working with Children Check? How do I get one?

The Working with Children Check (WWCC) is a screening process for assessing or re-assessing people who work with or care for children. Authorities take a detailed look at the criminal history and relevant professional conduct findings of applicants to assist in protecting children from sexual or physical harm.

Every State has its own application process. You should apply for the relevant WWCC from the State in which you reside. You will be asked to provide evidence of a valid WWCC before commencing your Future Anything Activator residency.

In most States you can apply online and the check is free if you’re using it for volunteering purposes. If a charge is applicable, unfortunately  Future Anything is not able to cover costs for this.

Please send a photo/ copy of your valid WWCC to [email protected] as soon as possible.

Who are the other Activators? Can we meet?

You are in amazing company! A full list of 2023 Activators will be released soon.

We’ll host an online briefing/networking session to bring 2023 Activators together at the start of the program, and there will be other opportunities during the year for the group to get together in person or virtually, not least at the epic Future Anything National Grand Final 2023 in November!

What if I get stuck or experience some kind of issue?

Don’t panic! The Future Anything team is here to support you on every step of your Activator journey, and to help make it the best it can be for you, and your school.

Every school in the Activate program has a dedicated Relationship Manager within the Future Anything team.

This is the person who will make the initial introduction between you and you school, so keep their email to hand. If you get stuck or have any questions, get in touch with them. They will also be happy to be part of your initial call with your school to help shape your residence to ensure it works for everyone.

If you’re not sure who to contact or have another question, just email us at [email protected] and we’ll help out!

Where do I sign up?

Yeah! Jump onto our short Expression of Interest form here, pop in you details and we’ll be in touch!

Got another question?

Great! We love enquiring minds!

Shoot us an email to [email protected] and we’ll be in touch!

GETTING THE MOST FROM YOUR RESIDENCY

What kind of support should I offer my school?

Activators will act as an “Entrepreneur in Residence” for the school(s) they’re matched with, providing advice, mentorship and support for their young people and/or teachers. This may be a physical or virtual presence and could include:

  • Spending time 121 or with groups of Activate students listening to their business ideas, asking questions and providing constructive feedback to help them improve their idea or pivot their thinking.
  • Running a short workshop or leading discussions on topics relating to your experience or area of expertise 
  • Joining a school-led Q&A or panel discussion
  • Acting as a judge at a school’s ‘shark tank’ style pitch event and showcase
  • Helping teachers make connections to the local business/innovation/ industry ecosystem.
  • Sharing knowledge or your personal experiences (where appropriate) or the world of work.
  • Engaging your own personal networks to connect passionate students/ teams of students with industry professionals or mentors that could help them progress their business idea further.

What kinds of questions should I ask students about their ideas? Do you have any examples?

The key in-school program milestones for students include:

  1. Ideating a range of different problems.
  2. Identifying the problem that they want to solve.
  3. Digging into that problem to better understand it.
  4. Ideating a range of different possible solutions.
  5. Identifying the solution (or combination of solutions) that they want to develop.
  6. Identifying the “X-Factor” element of their solution.
  7. Building a prototype of this solution.
  8. Getting feedback on this initial prototype and adapting it accordingly.
  9. Preparing their pitch to articulate their problem, solution and next steps.

The types of questions to ask students will depend on the stage of the program that they are up to when you visit (virtually or in-person). 

Here are some examples of questions to ask them at each stage:

  1. How many problems did you ideate? What were the key themes in the problems that you identified? (e.g. wellbeing, environment, political).
  2. What part of the problem are you trying to solve – is it a cause or consequence? Why have you chosen to solve that particular problem? How does this problem connect to your passions and/or lived experiences?
  3. What have you learnt about the problem that you didn’t know beforehand? What are some of the other solutions that exist to solve this problem?
  4. How many solutions did you ideate? What types of solutions have you ideated? (e.g. product, service, invention, campaign, event, etc).
  5. Why have you chosen that particular solution? How does this solution connect to your passions and/or lived experiences?
  6. What makes your solution stand out from others? Why should someone invest in your solution? What’s your point of difference?
  7. What assumptions are you making about your solution? How can you test these assumptions through your prototype? 
  8. How have you prototyped your solution? What feedback did you receive about your prototype? Was there any common themes or any outliers in your feedback? How are you going to improve your solution based on this feedback?
  9. How are you going to capture the judges and audience from the beginning of your pitch? How are you going to ensure that your pitch is memorable?

Do you have any suggestions of good activities/ice breakers to run with students?

The students will be fascinated to learn about you and your career/entrepreneurial story. 

Think about occasions in your life or career when something didn’t work out quite the way you wanted or the way anticipated it would. Stories about how you pivoted or found a new path are as important for young people as hearing about out-and-out success.

Share your journey with them and give them the opportunity to ask you questions!

Some other good ideas for activities/icebreakers can be found here.

Do you have any guidance on providing constructive feedback to students?

As this is likely the first time that the students will be engaged in this type of program that is underpinned by design thinking, it is best to keep the feedback simple and constructive.

We like to encourage feedback using the following prompts:

  • The things that I really like about your idea/solution are…
  • The things that I wonder about your idea/solution are…
  • If you’re open to it, I’d like to help you by…

Students may also become ‘attached’ to their original idea/solution so encouraging them to loosen their grip, stay open and not have ‘tunnel vision’ could also be helpful.

You may also like to have an example up your sleeve of a moment in time where you were given constructive feedback that really helped you propel forward.

Most of all, please be kind. Activate students are encouraged to build ideas based on their personal passions and lived experience and it is important that they feel safe and supported when sharing these ideas with others.

What are judges looking for at the Future Anything finals?

Future Anything  finals judges are interested in the following areas

  • INNOVATION – Does the idea identify a compelling ‘need’, or a local/ global challenge? Does the idea provide a clear solution to the problem?, How bold or fresh is the idea driving this project?
  • POTENTIAL – Is there potential for this idea to grow and scale?
  • IMPLEMENTATION – Is launching this idea financially realistic and well planned?
  • TRACTION & CREDIBILITY– Does the team have the ‘wow’ factor?

What might a successful student pitch or idea look like?

Check out students pitching at past Future Anything Finals on our website here. 

Can I connect students to external contacts and/or potential supporters/investors?

We certainly encourage leveraging your networks to assist with advancing the students’ ideas but similarly to sharing images, schools will have protocols around this.

We therefore recommend that you check-in with your key teacher before making any external connections, because they may need to be involved in the interaction and/or notify the students’ parents/caregivers.

Can I invest in students' enterprises?

We would recommend treating this on a case-by-case basis and ensuring that it is discussed with the key teacher to ensure all necessary protocols are adhered to.

We encourage all our schools to organise prizes for their in-school showcase (where appropriate) so if you are interested in investing in students’ enterprises, perhaps you could consider offering a prize. Remember, prize money/investment is of course valuable, but so is ongoing coaching or mentoring, and/or other support such as financial advice, branding, or tech support; internships or even visits to an interesting workplace or innovation hub. 

Don’t underestimate the impact this kind of support can have on an emerging innovator! 

Got another question?

Great! We love enquiring minds!

Shoot us an email to [email protected] and we’ll be in touch!

What is Enterprising Thinking?
Communication
Project Management
Critical Thinking
Problem Solving
Innovation
Adaptive Mindset