2019 JAUM Company of the Year

EcoSlurp – 2019 JAUM Company of the Year

Local High School Students Demonstrate Their Entrepreneurial Skills and Social Responsibility at Regional Junior Achievement Competition.

Mounds View High School students take top honors at JAUM Company of the Year Competition

April 18, 2019

St. Paul, Minn – Students from four Minnesota high schools demonstrated their business acumen and social responsibility at Junior Achievement (JA) of the Upper Midwest’s Company of the Year Competition, held on April 17, 2019, at the Junior Achievement James R. and Patricia Hemak Experiential Learning Center in St. Paul.

This regional competition featured top student-led companies from high schools throughout Minnesota. Schools invited to compete were Humboldt High School (St. Paul), Mounds View High School (Arden Hills), Patrick Henry High School and Edison High School (Minneapolis). Leading up to the competition, students had generated their companies through the JA Company Program, an experiential program where students create, market, and operate an actual company.

Five students from Mounds View High School received top honors for their business, EcoSlurp. The company provides an eco-friendly bubble tea straw alternative that biodegrades 250 times faster than a regular plastic straw.

As part of the JA Company of the Year competition, high school entrepreneur teams created a business pitch for their company, presented to a judging panel of business leaders, and answered questions about their product or service. The EcoSlurp team took top honors by most effectively running a financially sound business and being able to articulate how and why the company performed as it did. Each member of the winning team received a $1,000 post-secondary scholarship courtesy of the Otto Bremer Trust.

Taking second place honors was a tie between Thomas Edison High School for their company Stress Less, whose mission is to build the best stress relieving products while spreading awareness about mental health issues, and Mounds View High School company WriteCase, who created a writeable laptop case. Each team member received a $500 post-secondary scholarship also courtesy of the Otto Bremer Trust.
The Social Enterprise Award went to students from Humboldt for their business, Frown Less, Smile More. The students donated profits from the sale of colorful t-shirts to support anti-bullying efforts at their school. Each team member received a $250 post-secondary scholarship.

Designed for students in grades 9-12, JA Company Program provides students the opportunity to start a real company. They create a product or service, market it and work as a team to operate their own company as part of a school-based organization, club or after-school setting. The program emphasizes business content while providing the opportunity to apply school skills to a real business. This is JA’s original program.

“JA Company Program allows students to fill a need or solve a problem in their community by launching a business venture,” said Gina Blayney, President & CEO of Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest. “This immersive, experiential program takes students out of the classroom and puts them in real life situations, where they learn how to be leaders, work as a team, and problem solve. These 21st century skills prepare today’s young people to be tomorrow’s business leaders.”

The competition also named the sixth annual Otto Bremer Student Entrepreneur of the Year. This year’s recipient is Brandon Arneson, a senior at Edison High School and president of the second place JA Company Program team, Stress Less. Arneson received a $1,000 post-secondary scholarship sponsored by Otto Bremer Trust.

The first and second place teams from the regional competition will have a chance to apply to compete at the national JA Company of the Year competition held in Washington, D.C., in June 2019.

Judges for the event were Mike Zumwinkle, Senior Program Officer with the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation; Dr. John McVea, professor at the Schulze School of Entrepreneurship; Dr. Denise Williams, associate professor at Metropolitan State University; Brian Kueppers, founder & CEO of Apex Revenue Technologies; Rotolu Adebiyi, senior corporate affairs counsel Thrivent Financial; and Michelle Tran Maryns, inaugural FINNOVATION fellow and CEO of We Sparkle.

Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest received $1 million from the Otto Bremer Trust to establish the Otto Bremer Entrepreneurship Fund, a multi-year initiative to promote entrepreneurship and its opportunities to students in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin. JA Company Program is a key element of this initiative.