Students build businesses from scratch, earn cash, donate cash, win awards

Ten student-led companies compete for top honors

From Junior Achievement of Middle Tennessee:

High school students from area schools gathered on Thursday, March 13th at the Junior Achievement (JA) Teen Business Showcase at Belmont University to showcase the learning they achieved through the JA Company Program. Fourteen student-led companies were founded, conceptualized, operated, and liquidated this school year.

Beginning last September, all of the companies were guided through the program by their teacher and a community mentor from a local business. More than 50 students from ten companies were present at the Showcase to display their work; the students represented Antioch, Hillsboro, Pearl-Cohn, Stratford, and McGavock High Schools and the after school program Backfield in Motion in Davidson County and Summit High School in Williamson County.

Miller Roloson, JA Company Program volunteer from Deloitte and JA Associate Board member, mentored Antioch High School’s Clockwise Productions. Roloson said, “This is my first year to volunteer with the JA Company Program and it was a personally enriching experience. The students exhibited excellent leadership skills and enjoyed hearing about real-world business experiences. This helped them to look ahead to their future and what they want to do in life.”

During the JA Teen Business Showcase, students exhibited their company’s product or service at a Trade Show, made a five minute business overview presentation to a panel of judges, created an Annual Report, and presented a one minute commercial. At the conclusion of the Showcase, judges named the top three companies for the 2013-2014 school year.

The Top Company was McBeanie & Co. from McGavock High School. The Company sold beanie stocking caps to fellow students and teachers. Their product sold out in just two weeks and the students donated nearly $200 of their profits to the Nashville Rescue Mission. McBeanie & Co. President Klara Zenelaku is a Senior at McGavock. This was her second year in the JA Company Program and she plans to study entrepreneurship in college because of her experiences with Junior Achievement. She said, “I have always been interested in business but I did not know a lot about it. I got to experience different jobs and help my team this year. The program showed me that I really want to be a CEO someday and be my own boss.” McBeanie & Co. 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.

The Second Place Company was The Beanie Company from Hillsboro High School and the Third Place Company was Squad Fitters from Summit High School.

Dave Young is a Hillsboro High School coach and teacher whose Business Management class created The Beanie Company. He said, “The program was a learning experience for all of us…without a doubt, students learned life skills: planning, organization, cooperation, skills that will benefit in business and in helping make personal life more successful. I saw growth in most of the students and the experience really exceeded my expectations.”

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.”