KENOSHA, WI – June 20th, 2016 – The Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum (KTEC) is turning their library into the headquarters of MEME Corp. this summer. A group of 27 students are working to launch a real startup business through a summer program that was created in partnership between KTEC, Leeward Business Advisors (LeewardBA), and Junior Achievement (JA).
Building on the success of LeewardBA’s afterschool Coding Club, KTEC asked the organization for support with a summer program. The afterschool program focused on using coding to solve problems, rather than the skills specific to coding. The summer program will accomplish much of the same thing, only with business and entrepreneurship as the focus, instead of computers and coding.
LeewardBA and KTEC launched a partnership with JA to build the foundation of the summer program’s curriculum. JA provided educational materials, resources, and direction for students and volunteers to get started. LeewardBA is using this material to jumpstart the business. Students participated in two, six-hour days of startup boot camp led by LeewardBA CEO, Michael Polzin, and other volunteers. Across these days, students pitched products, conducted feasibility studies, identified their strengths and weaknesses, and named their company.
LeewardBA CEO, Michael Polzin, believes that students have a real opportunity to impact their business community today.
“The signs are all around, there is a steady rise in boutique based business within our economy. Even larger enterprise businesses are looking to smaller, nimbler companies for the next round of innovations. This is increasing the demand for entrepreneurs to rise to the calling.
“Through their experience with the JA Business program, KTEC students will be prepared to answer that calling. In addition to real world business operations they are learning collaboration, project management, communications, and time management. We are thrilled to see the students engaged and learning from each other.”
The twenty-seven middle schoolers divided themselves into departments on Wednesday, using the information they learned about the roles each of section. In these groups, students brainstormed product ideas and then pitched them to their peers and the volunteers.
Students were guided through a feasibility study for the products they pitched and what it takes to bring a product to market on Thursday. This new knowledge helped students to brainstorm differently. Volunteers split students into smaller groups where they again came up with products and pitched them. The lesson’s impact was immediately evident in student’s ideas and their pitches. In addition to pitching more realistic products, students were prepared with more information on the feasibility of creating them and the current market need.
The students’ new, realistic product ideas were tested against a number of feasibility factors they came up with. After understanding the difficulties of each, students voted and decided on their company’s product: customized drawstring bags.
KTEC students spent time in their departments planning and starting their first steps toward getting the company off the ground. Departments defined goals and actionable steps before starting their work with the help of volunteers. Students were each given tasks to focus on over the week on their own so that progress could continue.
In the next few weeks, students will begin seeking funding before physically creating their product, executing sales and marketing strategies, and selling. Volunteers will be there to assist as needed, but students are expected to lead. LeewardBA will help MEME Corp. to sell, transfer, or close down their company at the end of the 10-week program if necessary. KTEC and LeewardBA feel this program will provide students with valuable, real-world experience.
About Leeward Business AdvisorsLeeward Business Advisors is a Wisconsin based corporation that provides business strategy planning, business improvement implementation, and full IT operational support. They offer world class Cloud Computing services, Cloud brokerage, Managed IT services, and a full US based Support Service Desk (called Quick Answers). Michael Polzin, CEO has 20+ years of enterprise business and technology experience gained while working at Allstate Insurance and Microsoft Corporation. Jason Klein, CTO has 15+ years delivering effective and efficient technology to Midwest companies.
About KTECKenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum is a leader in innovative education, connecting with local, national, and global business and educators, offering rigorous, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) infused academics, producing caring, well-rounded 21st century citizens. Their mission as a PreK-8 school is an innovative learning environment, is to prepare students for success in a global society through academic excellence by the use of 21st century skills and technology integration.
About Junior AchievementJunior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. JA’s unique approach allows volunteers from the community to deliver our curriculum while sharing their experiences with students. Embodying the heart of JA, our more than 213,000 classroom volunteers transform the key concepts of our lessons into a message that inspires and empowers students to believe in themselves, showing them they can make a difference in the world.
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