Kaitlyn Caraway has been an entrepreneur since the age of 13. Kaitlyn was awarded the prestigious McKelvey Entrepreneurial Scholarship and attended the entrepreneurship program at Ball State University. With her new company The Launch Life, co-founded with young entrepreneur Andrew Forster, Kaitlyn is sharing her passion for entrepreneurship through the virtual community, which is focused on startups and young entrepreneurs.
Later this October, Kaitlyn and her business partner Andrew Forster will be hosting several entrepreneurship sessions for students at the 2013 Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) National Conference in Chicago. Kaitlyn and Andrew both attended the conference last year, which helped inspire the idea behind The Launch Life.
I caught up with Kaitlyn for an interview about her current entrepreneurial endeavors, speaking at the upcoming conference, advice for young entrepreneurs, and more.
Michael Luchies: Tell us a little bit about The Launch Life.
Kaitlyn Caraway: At The Launch Life, our mission is to inspire and encourage young entrepreneurs to chase their dreams and launch new and exciting ventures that create positive social and economic impacts.
“The Launch Life” is the crazy, hectic, passionate, persistent, sleepless, idea-driven, goal-oriented lifestyle that we as young entrepreneurs live while launching our business.
Our goal is to build a community of entrepreneurs who support each other through the launch of their business. We aim to provide advice and encouragement in a respectful and creative environment.
ML: Have you always been entrepreneurial?
KC: Yes, absolutely! I opened my first business at 13, but I had mini ventures before that. I was always looking for ways to make money from my hobbies and interests.
ML: What inspired the creation of The Launch Life?
KC: Andrew and I have always talked about how to really define the lifestyle that young entrepreneurs live while they’re starting a company. There are so many common life choices that we make during this period, and it creates an instant bond between young entrepreneurs, an understanding that we don’t often share with other people our age. We wanted to build a highly interactive support system for young entrepreneurs, a virtual community that would provide resources and encouragement for startups. Our starting place for this project is The Launch Life Book- a book filled with our success and failure stories, and some life lessons learned. We wanted our book and company to be relatable, and give the readers the experience of sitting down at a table and “sharing a cup of coffee and trading stories”, very informal and sometimes brutally honest.
ML: What will you be speaking about at the 2013 CEO National Conference?
KC: This year we’ll be all over the place at the conference! We’ll be speaking to faculty members and sponsors about the best ways to support their student entrepreneurs, and also speaking to students about “”The Launch Life”- Where Do We Go From Here?”- a session and open conversation with our panel about using the knowledge we gain from the conference and channeling it into starting a new company.
ML: Why are you passionate about supporting young entrepreneurs?
KC: Because I’ve been in their shoes! I’d owned my first business for 5 years before I met another entrepreneur my age, and I was floored when I had that experience. The understanding and support that was shared was a feeling I couldn’t describe- it was a new kind of acceptance. Our goal is to find these young entrepreneurs who feel “alone”, and bring them into our community to foster creativity and growth.
ML: What is your best piece of advice for young entrepreneurs?
KC: Learn to love the word “NO.” In my book, no is really a yes in disguise, but needs a different approach. Every time someone tells you no, it gives you a new opportunity to continue to innovate and improve on your idea before it can be more widely accepted. Although it seems so hard to see it as a positive, you’ll be thankful for those opportunities later.
*For more information on the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), please visit www.c-e-o.org. Registration is currently open for the 2013 CEO National Conference, October 31 – November 2.