When Brandon Arneson starts classes at the University of Denver business school this fall as a freshman, he’ll have a head-start on many of his fellow students. Brandon has served as president of two Junior Achievement companies, worked on two others, and even co-founded a business outside the auspices of the JA program.
Brandon’s introduction to Junior Achievement took place during his freshman year at Edison High School in Minneapolis. He was intrigued by JA Company Program, where high school students create and run an actual business within the school setting. That year, he and his classmates sold selfie-stickers, using the company profits to create wellness kits for different homeless shelters.
His JA involvement grew during his sophomore year, this time serving as finance officer for the company. He and his classmates created an online rewards program that allowed faculty members to award points to students for demonstrating leadership skills or exemplary behavior.
Brandon and his teammates became incredibly close that year, and they decided to expand their interest in business beyond school. They formed a snow removal company called LawnX LLC. That winter, they earned roughly $10,000 shoveling snow for about 30 residential and retail customers.
During his junior and senior years, Brandon served as president of his student-led companies while using the skills he gained through the program to grow his snow removal business.
In recognition of his senior year accomplishments, which earned his team a second-place showing at the annual JAUM Company of the Year Competition, Brandon was named the 2019 Otto Bremer Student Entrepreneur of the Year for Minnesota.
“The JA Company Program competition has entrepreneurs who come and share their story,” Brandon says. “That’s my favorite part of the competition, talking to the different entrepreneurs and hearing what they have to say. It’s really fascinating to hear about the hurdles or obstacles they overcame, as well as learn about the pathway they took to where they are now.”
JA Company Program gave him and his team “a safe, controlled way to push our comfort zone and gain real experience being an entrepreneur in a supported environment. There’s not a lot of other ways to learn these skills or to experience the setbacks of starting a business without actually doing it. My JA experience was invaluable!”