My entreprenurial journey started in a small high school in South London, on September 28, 2013. I sat down in the corner of a classroom, a quiet sixteen-year-old- still confused about what I had signed up for. I had never studied business, no experience of making money and the thought of running my own company was about as ridiculous an idea I could think. Little did I know I had just begun the year-long programme that would change my life! Junior Achievment (JA).
I was elected Sales Director of my student company, comprised of 24 students. We soon decided on our product ‘Attachee’ a pressure sensitive sticky pad you can use to attach anything anywhere. With the business off and running we started participating in trade fairs, with every failure came new developments and we continually capitalised on our successes with new ideas in areas such as marketing, product extension and team management. I think people should never fear failure, it’s vital part of development and makes every victory taste so much sweeter.
As everyone will in business, we had our low points, falling victim to a production halt caused by the entrepreneur’s nightmare that is Chinese New Year. By far the hardest challenge was removing our Managing Director from the company, business amongst friends is a huge risk, but I am glad to say we luckily remained a close group after the program.
My company was a strong contender in the competitions, and made it to the UK Company of Year finals, which we won. In the JA Europe final hosted in Tallinn, Estonia, we came in second place. As our second place prise, our team received full scholarships for first year study at the Estonian Business School.
I never expected my company to go so far in the competition, at the foundation stages I was uncertain if we could make profit by the end of the year. I couldn’t understand how much a group of high school students could achieve. We were able to represent our country, selling a product we developed ourselves without our own marketing campaign in charge of our finances and made over 10,000€. In the competition we beat over 250,000 other students in the European programme.
Soon after the JA Company Programme, my friend (and now business partner) and I decided we couldn’t put out the entrepreneurial fire burning inside us, and immediately threw ourselves into an iOS application idea. Sadly after almost a year of work we failed to launch due to unforeseen changes in the product. Even though it was disheartening to say goodbye to the idea, we learnt so much and benefited a lot from the process. Besides, if only 1 in 10 start-ups succeed we only have nine more to go!
This educational programme started my journey of entrepreneurship and I won’t let it end any time soon. I used to let the challenge scare me away, but now I feel as though the sky is the limit, in my experience the only thing which prevents a company being founded is you. All it takes is one idea to change everything; I hope you are searching for it, because I certainly am.
Editor: Kärt Mättikas