Startupland

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Maybe you never imagined you could be an entrepreneur, forging your own way in the business world based on one great idea and lots of passion. Great news: it just became a whole lot easier to see your entrepreneurial goals come to fruition. It also looks like many more intrepid creatives will soon be entering the business world, thanks the efforts of the Startupland team.

Startupland is a documentary series and educational curriculum developed here in Northern Virginia by Jonathon Perrelli and Justin Gutwein, two highly ambitious and energetic individuals with a desire to help others understand how they can turn their business ideas into a reality.

The curriculum is a ready-to-implement digital learning system that provides individuals and institutions with an interactive and reflective approach to learning entrepreneurship. Its online platform can be used as a self-paced program or in a more traditional group-learning environment.

Jonathon Perrelli Startupland, Creator & Producer Miranda Lee Startupland, Curriculum Manager
Jonathon Perrelli Startupland, Creator & Producer                                                 Miranda Lee Startupland, Curriculum Manager

Today, Perrelli, Gutwein, and their team are expanding the documentary series they created into an educational curriculum that’s quickly spreading from its Loudoun County roots to an overseas audience. Posh Seven sat down with Perrelli, who happens to be a Virginia Tech Hokie, and Miranda Lee, Startupland’s Curriculum Manager, to learn more about the documentary, the curriculum it inspired, and what’s ahead:

How did Startupland evolve from a documentary about entrepreneurship into an educational program?

PERRELI: We had all of this extra footage from interviews with business executives for the documentary series, and then I met Miranda on Twitter. She was a Curriculum Developer in Loudoun County. We started talking, and we decided from there that we would write curriculum content based upon what happens in the series.

Where and how will this educational curriculum be implemented?

LEE: Initially, we focused on the field of adult education. We were trying to push the curriculum to people who were interested in the startup scene and weren’t sure if it was right for them. Then we realized there was so much more than just the adult side of it, because the documentary itself is a learning experience. There’s no reason a K-12 teacher wouldn’t be able to share that in their classroom. We realized there were so many ways we could branch off and modify certain elements for an educational environment.

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In what ways have you been able to grow your following beyond Northern Virginia?

PERRELI: We developed this curriculum in Loudoun County, but it’s now educating entrepreneurs globally. We have a massive following in Africa and Northern Europe.

It’s also been doing well at The Bullis School’s Entrepreneurship Program in Potomac, Maryland and at Virginia Tech. We definitely can see it being used in high school courses, helping businesses, and spreading to more universities.

One part of the online curriculum is about motivation and purpose. Do you believe you can teach people to be self-motivated, or is this something you either have or lack? Are people “born entrepreneurs”?

PERRELI: I will say that passion doesn’t lie in the word “entrepreneur.” It’s in what the person who is an entrepreneur wants to create. If you’re an entrepreneur, you have to be passionate and motivated if you want to get to a place where you’re successful. If you don’t have it innately, I don’t know how you could be an entrepreneur.

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DC isn’t Silicon Valley. How is the DC-area entrepreneurial climate different from California in terms of industries, demographics, and success rates?

PERRELLI: I’ve spent a lot of time in both places. Silicon Valley is unique, and it’s unfortunate that so many places try to be just like it. For example, they have nothing on us when it comes to government contracting or telecommunications. The Internet was born here in Northern Virginia.

Also, we have so much centered around helping others here. As a result, our ecosystem for entrepreneurship has grown quickly over the last few years. This area (including Maryland and Virginia) is considered one of the top twenty places for entrepreneurship.

DC is different in that people in this entrepreneurial community are actually very helpful. In other areas, people say, “Let’s grab lunch,” and you never hear from them again. Here, people actually follow up and provide mentoring. And mentoring, as we talk about in Startupland, is critical.

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“WE DEVELOPED THIS CURRICULUM IN LOUDOUN COUNTY, BUT IT’S NOW EDUCATING ENTREPRENEURS GLOBALLY.” — JONATHON PERRELLI, STARTUPLAND

What do you want local readers to know about Startupland, and how can they benefit from the documentary even if they aren’t entrepreneurs themselves?

PERRELLI: There are a lot of families here that are first or second generation citizens, and they want more for their future. Startupland can help them see that they can do it themselves. But of course, there’s a roadmap and you need the knowledge to do it.

LEE: The lessons that you learn from the series and the curriculum can be applied to anything that you do. Entrepreneurship is unique, but the concepts you’re learning here can take anyone through their day. You need motivational purpose in anything you do.

Interested in learning more about entrepreneurship, personal branding, or the art of innovation from this team of local entrepreneurs? Startupland has the resources you need. Visit their website, startupland.tv, to purchase the curriculum for yourself.

PHOTOS BY TRACI BROOKS