Small business success in high school

Companies built from start to finish by students in Metro High Schools went head to head today in the Junior Achievement Teen Business Showcase. These companies are the end result of fourteen weeks of work with mentors from the business community. They put together a business plan, developed products, did marketing, hired employees and a whole lot more.

Today these seven companies went before a panel of business experts, who graded them and gave out awards.

The Top Company was Teen Safety Enterprises from McGavock High School. The company’s goal was to provide “don’t text and drive” key chains to all juniors in Metro Nashville High Schools. In Second Place was Zoonies from Antioch High School, a company that provides warm hats to students in Middle Tennessee. Third place went to Bandz Inc. from McGavock High School, that sold arm bands to students at school.

From Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee:

High school students from four Metro Nashville high schools gathered on Tuesday, March 12th at the Junior Achievement (JA) Teen Business Showcase at Lipscomb University to showcase the learning they achieved through the JA Company Program. Nine student-led companies were founded, conceptualized, operated, and liquidated this school year.

All of the companies were guided through the fourteen week program by their teacher and a community mentor from a local business. More than 30 students from seven companies were present at the Showcase to display their work; the students represented Antioch, Hillsboro, Hillwood, and McGavock high schools in Metro Nashville. Jerome Terrell, JA Company Program Volunteer from TVA said, “this is a great program for young adults to experience a real world business venture…it is invaluable to see their excitement and help them bring out their leadership skills.”

During the JA Teen Business Showcase, students exhibited their company’s product or service at a Trade Show, made a three minute business overview presentation to a panel of judges, created an Annual Report, and presented a two minute commercial. At the conclusion of the Showcase, judges named the top three companies for the 2012-2013 school year.

The Top Company was Teen Safety Enterprises from McGavock High School. The Company’s goal is to provide “don’t text and drive” key chains to all Juniors in Metro Nashville high schools. The funding for the key chains has been provided through community sponsorships and the company was mentored by Clay Jackson from the Entrepreneur Center. Teen Safety Enterprises CEO Mattea Baskin, said, “this was a life changing experience…I learned a lot about leadership, teamwork, and patience.” Teen Safety Enterprises will be nominated to compete at the JA National Student Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. this summer as part of a JA Company Program national competition.

Donna Gilley, CTE Coordinator from Metro Nashville Public Schools, said, “I know that we’re bringing real life experiences to these students. From professional dress to being able to explore what businesses do, to truly understanding the purpose of this process, the students see what it takes to run a successful business, including communication skills, listening, and teamwork.”

The Second Place Company was Zoonies from Antioch High School and the Third Place Company was Bandz from McGavock High School.

Jordan Williams, Vice President of Finance of Bandz is a senior and has taken finance and accounting classes in school. Williams said that the time in the JA Company Program “helped me see how I would use classroom knowledge in a company and that finance will be a good fit for me in the real world.”

JA President Trent Klingensmith was a JA Company Program student himself in high school. He said, “students connecting classroom concepts with real-world application is vital, especially during high school. The JA Company Program does exactly that for teenagers, demonstrating their potential and inspiring them to reach for their dreams.”

Junior Achievement provides Kindergarten through high school programs throughout Middle Tennessee each school year. Companies and schools interested in participating should contact JA Director of Programs Andy Schenck at 615.627.1186 or