Billy Naveed started his first online business while he was at high school, and he’s never lost the entrepreneurship bug. Though he’s spent the last 17 years building a career in investment banking, working in London and Hong Kong, the advice of the mentors he had at an early age has stayed with him. That’s why he launched the Young Founders School (YFS)—to give young people access to similar knowledge and opportunities.
“YFS is a non-profit that helps high school students become entrepreneurs,” says Billy. “We put students through a weekend-long bootcamp where they learn all the latest start-up techniques, and sit with mentors to create a pitch deck. At the end of the weekend they pitch to real VCs and compete for prizes. The winning team gets USD 1000 to start their business.”
So far, YFS has been a big success. More than 1100 students have attended 14 bootcamps and 10 ideation events, and more than 350 mentors are involved. During bootcamps, students learn how to create lean startups, find product market fit, analyse potential competitors, and much more.
YFS operates in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shenzhen and Bangladesh, and Billy aims to expand to Indonesia and Pakistan soon. It has a diverse reach, with more than 50 per cent of students being female.
“There is no start-up bootcamp in the world for high-school students that is operating at the scale and cadence we are. Also, because we can iterate quickly, we can work with the best educators in the world, including the best Google certified educators to bring the very latest teaching techniques.”
Getting going, however, YFS faced some administrative challenges. Billy found it wasn’t easy to open a bank account in Hong Kong as a non-profit. He waited six months for one application to be considered by a bank, only to be rejected.
“Then we were introduced to Neat. We had a bank account number and credit cards for the whole team organised in a week.”
Billy found that Neat was fast-paced—just like his rapidly-expanding non-profit—so he was able to shift his focus from administration to growing the reach of YFS in Asia.
“Neat’s support has been amazing. We get replies within one business day. We told them we were interested in multi-currency payments, and this was very quickly brought onto their features list. They’re laser-focused on delivering the best experience. They truly understand what customers want.”