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Austin Students Learn the ABC's of Becoming CEO's


(ABC 6 News) -- It’s been one year since CEO, which stands for creating entrepreneurial opportunities, launched as a class for high school students in Austin.

“The ideas are limitless. It’s up to them to decide what they’re passionate about,” said Tim Fritz, the advisory board chair for CEO.

On Wednesday night, the students, who spent the last year building their own businesses, got a chance to show them off and sell them at the class’s very own trade show.

For Austin High School senior Claire Heichel, that big idea was closer than the tips of her toes.

“So I started a sock company because I am a type 1 diabetic and I have been for almost 10 years now. Something I struggle with really poorly is my circulation to both my hands and my feet,” said Heichel, founder of Circulate Socks.

While she said there are socks out there that help, they can be pricey and not very discreet.

“It actually squeezes the arch of your foot and evenly distributes the blood flow in your feet,” she said about her product.

Her company is one of about a dozen launched during the inaugural CEO class.

“We being the business community provide the resources in the form of financial support, in the form of mentorship, in the form of just answering questions when the kids have questions about how you put a business plan together,” Fritz said.

Over the last year, the 17 students learned from the community; their classrooms were local businesses.

“We have 56 businesses in Austin that not only are willing to teach the students, and talk to the students, and allow them to come to their facilities, and have tours, but they’re also donating their financial support to make it work,” Fritz said.

Heichel said she never really thought about going into business, but when she heard about the class last year, she wanted in.

“Austin is such a welcoming community and they’re really supportive of local businesses,” she said.

While Heichel has no intention of derailing next year’s plan to head to Winona State to study nursing, she said over the past year she’s learned a lot about business, but even more about herself.

“It can be really hard to find something that you’re passionate about, but once you find that passion, you just kind of have to take it and run with it,” she said.

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