Shark Tank Comes to Region in the Form of JA's Innovation Academy - NEWS | Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania

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Shark Tank Comes to Region in the Form of JA's Innovation Academy

Daymond John, Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban! Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania discovered your potential future business partners through our second annual Innovation Academy - a miniature Shark Tank competition.
This summer, Junior Achievement staff and local mentors led workshops for over 60 aspiring entrepreneurs, ages 10-14, on how to start your own business. The theme this year was to work with a team to create a sustainable yet profitable business. During five virtual sessions, students learned about:
Entrepreneurship- Students observed the relationship between entrepreneurs, businesses, products, and services. They were introduced to well-known entrepreneurs and examined the characteristics that they share. From there, they took a self-assessment to determine their entrepreneurial abilities and interests.
Market, Supply and Demand- Students identified markets and needs that entrepreneurial products and services answer. They studied design, conceptualization and worked in teams to brainstorm the current need for their product or service categories.
Innovative Ideas- Students learned to embrace innovation. While working in teams, students used graphic organizers to capture their brainstormed ideas and were encouraged to challenge conventional wisdom. 
Design, Prototype and Testing the Market- Students discovered product design, the prototype process, and the importance of obtaining market feedback about new product and service ideas. Each student created a sketch of their product or service to show its features and explain its purpose.
Seeking Funding- Students learned how to create and deliver a pitch presentation with the intent of attracting investors. In the mock competition, teams pitch their product idea to the sharks and compete for their support.
In the final week of the program, participants were able to see all thought-out ideas from concept to prototype during each presentation to the sharks. Students also had the chance to fully defend their product/concept during a Q&A session with the sharks after their pitch. 
Our presenting sponsors, EY, a global consulting company, and Oriden, a leading global energy company, along with weekly sponsors including KPMG, Numoola and USA Staffing, assisted in mentoring the students on leadership, group dynamics and public speaking. Additional sponsors included, Edinboro University, Clearview Federal Credit Union, Pashek+MTR, and Rust Belt Business Law.
The winning teams, chosen by the sharks, include E-Cycle from the morning program session and RSC, Refugee Supply Center, from the PM program session.
E-cycle, designed by group members Neil Kaneri, Abigail Platz, Lydia Schram, Alayna Fu, Carter Schram, and led by Yuvaan Kaneri, is an app that scans products and notifies the user if/how to recycle.
Angelina Li, Andrew Li, Maya Elenor Moss, Eli Sweeney, and Team Captain Micah Mathew Abraham created the business RSC. RSC is a center for refugees to go to become acclimated to their new home. It includes a place for them to stay and a resource center for finding jobs. 
When asked about their thoughts on the program, several students agreed that it was fun, some were even honest enough to admit that they were skeptical of what to expect at first, but it was worth it.  E-Cycle team captain Yuvaan Kaneri “Couldn’t have gotten through the program without his teachers and mentors.”
Board member and volunteer Gene Boyer III noted, “As a former JA kid and now board member. I know the impact that JA has on lives for decades to come. Working with these bright and motivated kids was a breath of fresh air. I can’t wait to participate in next year’s Academy to see where these young people go in life.” 
We believe Innovation Academy is just the start for these all-star students. If you are looking to invest in a child’s future, click here.
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