Serial entrepreneur Jennifer Kushell has been in business since she was a teenager.
Her family vacations were at franchise conferences. At 15, she was reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by the pool and having dinner with the founder of Pizza Hut and his wife.
Kushell encouraged students to embrace similar opportunities afforded to them through the Titus Center for Franchising when she spoke to an auditorium full of students, faculty and advisory board members Wednesday morning.
In franchising, “once you’re in the field, you have lifetime employment,” Kushell said.
Kushell is CEO and founder of Young & Successful Media and YSN.com, where she creates campaigns around youth empowerment, employment and entrepreneurship. Those campaigns included the 100-country Subway Global Challenge and the International Franchise Association’s NextGen in Franchising campaign.
Currently, Kushell is CEO of EYP Ventures, short for Exploring Your Potential™. The online career-readiness program inspires young adults to create a life and career customized to their talents, passions and goals. In October, venture capitalists backed the company.
“I like to tell people the world is a candy store of opportunity, and I want to create a magic carpet ride for you,” Kushell said.
During Kushell’s freshman year of college, she created the Young Entrepreneurs Network, the first online network for young people trying to start their own companies. Those in the network came from 75 countries, and the effort caught the attention of CNN and Entrepreneur magazine.
None of her ideas was part of a big business plan. It was her entrepreneurial mind saying, “Why don’t we do this?” and occasionally getting someone to pay for it, she said.
Early on, Kushell made it a point to go to the International Franchise Association conference, which gave her access to business owners, staff, investors and media and with which the Titus Center has many connections.
“Even if you don’t know a single person, you walk in, and you’re exposed to the entire ecosystem,” Kushell said.
The association, recognizing that many young people didn’t understand the industry, eventually hired Kushell to build a video and website to educate them about career paths in franchising. Those opportunities include working in a franchise, investing in one or building a business that can be franchised.
Franchising is a “business model that helps you scale big ideas,” Kushell said.
Additionally, she helped birth the NextGen in Franchising Global Competition, which drew people from 50 countries to the United States for an entrepreneurial challenge.
“I purposely went after the emerging markets,” Kushell said.
The 2015 winner of that competition was Galen Welsch, a Colorado native who started Jibu in Kampala, Uganda. Jibu hires African franchisees to purify, bottle and sell clean drinking water in places where it is in short supply.
A woman carrying a Jibu water bottle in Kampala graced the cover of Franchise Times magazine that year, becoming the first woman from an emerging market to earn the honor, Kushell said.
Kushell is unafraid of traveling the world or being the only woman in the room, just as she wasn’t afraid of being the only 19-year-old in the room at franchising conferences during her college years. Being different makes you special and makes people curious about you, she said.
“You have unbelievable opportunities at your fingertips right here, right now,” Kushell told students. “You choose your trajectory. You choose how far you want to go with the effort you put in.”
Photo 1: Serial entrepreneur Jennifer Kushell speaks to an auditorium full of Titus Center for Franchising students, faculty and advisory board members about attracting young people to the franchising industry.
Photo 2: Entrepreneur Jennifer Kushell speaks to Titus Center for Franchising students about how taking advantage of opportunities as a young adult has served her well throughout her career in business.