TurningPoint’s Junior Achievement Team Wins 2nd Place!
Last week, Ken Schmitt, Founder & President of TurningPoint Executive Search, guided Canyon Crest Academy’s 2019 Junior Achievement into 2nd place and one step closer to consideration for the National competition next month.
When asked why drove him to become a mentor with Junior Achievement six years ago, Ken responded, “Growing up with an entrepreneurial father, much of my own business acumen was influenced by what I observed and learned when I was young. I wanted these young professionals to have the same opportunity to develop their skills and explore their passions early.”
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Junior Achievement and the evolution of the program has been incredible. As co-mentors, Ken and Garrett Colbert, guide the teams of students as they create their own business, executive team, sales and marketing team strategy, finances, and HR function. Additionally, the team must actually build the company and sell their products or services. As successful businessmen themselves, Ken and Garrett launch their 13-week Entrepreneur Program with an important exercise in ideation.
“We ask the students to think about problems, frustrations, or inefficiencies they deal with every day. Once we have this list, we begin discussing about how to fix those problems, and the how to address the problems created by some of their solutions. We talk a lot about not becoming ‘a product looking for a customer’. Instead, we encourage them to begin with a problem to solve, first and foremost, then developing the solutions, whether that be a product or service.”
With 41 students broken into 8 company teams, the ideas these young entrepreneurs launched were outstanding. One company addressed social issues such as how to clothe the homeless. Their company, Eternal, used the Tom’s Shoes approach and personally distributed one t-shirt for every t-shirt sold. A second team built a company which provided marketing services to clubs on campus. More cost-effective, student-taught lessons for athletes and College Kit, a service allowing parents and soon to be college students to customize a box of spirit wear from their college of choice, were a few more of the creative solutions the teams created.
“We talk throughout the 13-week program about key pieces to a successful business, beyond a successful product. We discuss the importance of choosing the right team to build your company around. We emphasize the significance of surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you are and who possess a different set of skills. We address the challenges of being a leader, most importantly, the ability to hold people accountable and being open to ideas from all levels of the organization.”
When asked what they thought of the Junior Achievement program, the students sang its praises. “Before this class, I was thinking of getting into the medical field. Now, I realize that I love the idea of starting and running a business and I will be focusing on being a creative entrepreneur,” says one student who is heading off to Baylor University in the fall.
Canyon Crest Academy’s team placed 2nd among the 18 teams in this year’s competition, with their company being submitted to JA National for consideration in the National competition in June. If they move forward in the competition, they will face the top 15 high schools in the United States! Based on the fact that 4 out of 5 years CCA has won an award, Ken and Garrett have high hopes!