Six teams of students from local high schools competed for top honors in the seventh annual JA Business Plan Challenge on May 3, 2016 at RSM US LLP. Presented by Vulcan Value Partners, the JA Business Plan Challenge focuses on challenging high school students through interactive classroom activities to start an entrepreneurial venture.
Prior to the competition, the finalists participated in JA Be Entrepreneurial, a seven session volunteer-led program sponsored by the UPS Foundation which pairs teachers, mentors, and JA volunteers from the local business community with students to create business plans based on their unique product or service ideas. Nearly 50 applications were submitted to this year’s JA Business Plan Challenge. Six teams were chosen to advance to the final round where they pitched their plans to a panel of judges. Participating students explained their plans for producing, distributing and marketing their product. They also addressed social and ethical responsibilities, and explained their personal management style and past business experience.
William Judy from Hoover High School took top honors with Twist-It, a cleaning tool for racing spikes. Judy, a cross country track athlete, was passionate about solving a problem that so many track athletes face: clogged up spikes affecting performance.
Judy was joined at the JA Business Plan Challenge by the following finalists:
· Carlee Bennett and Emily Leonard from Hewitt-Trussville High School received the second-place award of $2,000 for ConnectPG, an app that allows parents to monitor their kids social media accounts.
· Akira Bell and Saniya Widerman from Huffman High School received the third-place award of $1,000 for their business Sugar & Spice, a home-based bakery that provides sculpted pop cakes made fresh to order.
· Spencer Hurst from Hoover High School, owner of Bamboo – a social media advertising service; Jarred Turnbow from Hewitt-Trussville High School, owner of Put It Down – a subscription based app that allows parents to disable their child’s texting capabilities while driving; and James Aguirre and Jarrett Anthony from Hoover High School, owners of Kreative Threads – a t-shirt business catering to individual designers, each received $500.
"The JA Business Plan Challenge shows how Junior Achievement is fostering the next generation of startup founders in the Greater Birmingham area - which is extremely important to our community and the burgeoning entrepreneurial opportunities of the area," said Richard Murray, President of Junior Achievement. "Programs like the Business Plan Challenge allow JA to work with schools and community leaders to promote entrepreneurship and the importance of new local economic opportunity to all generations."
Matt Campbell, BBVA Compass & Tavern on 1st
Isaac Cooper, Boundary Stone Financial, LLC
Chad Trull, Hospicelink
Jewel Williams, Learning Little People
Lee Ann Petty, Regions Bank
Dr. Anthony Hood, UAB Collat School of Business (Keynote Speaker)