JA LaunchU!

JA LaunchU! is a new program that equips high school students (10-12th grade) with the skills needed to launch their own start-up business. It isn’t necessary for the idea to already be developed; rather, students can explore an idea to fill a need or solve a problem in their community while cultivating their entrepreneurial spirit. Rising young entrepreneurs in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area will be part of a cohort but will have the option to work individually in teams or on their own ideas.

Students will participate in a minimum of 13 two-hour meetings in Junior Achievement’s unique JA Innovation Incubator, located at 1745 University Ave. W. in St. Paul, just off the Metro Green Line (Fairview stop).

  • October 21, 2019– May 1, 2020
  • 1 time per week (with holiday breaks as appropriate); Mondays from 6-8pm and occasional Saturday mentoring events (time could change depending on students desired schedule)
  • 80% attendance requirement

Facilitated by JA’s Entrepreneur in Residence Michelle Maryns, students will put theory into practice by creating, marketing and operating their own company from concept to business plan, financing, execution and sales.

  • Additional content experts will conduct workshops on key start-up techniques and tactics.
  • Opportunities will be provided to build students social network with business leaders and entrepreneurs.
  • Additional JA tools and learning opportunities will also be incorporated (i.e. JA Titan and JA Launch Lessons)

Unique Environment for Innovation
Students will have access to a dedicated work space in JA’s first-of-its-kind Innovation Incubator throughout the program.

  • Access to other JA workspaces including video conferencing, auditorium, meeting rooms.
  • Access to technology tools (3D printer, poster printers, smart boards, video tools, etc.)
  • Comprehensive entrepreneurship education program for full understanding of what it takes to initiate your own venture.

Launch Funding

  • Upon successful completion of the program, participating students will be eligible for a $500 stipend to help launch their new venture.
  • Participants will also be eligible to compete in the local JA Company of the Year Competition held in April 2020, where top teams receive scholarships and the opportunity to apply to compete at JA USA Company of the Year Competition.
  • Coaching will also be provided for any students interested in competing in the Youth Division of Minnesota Cup, which also offers prizes to top teams. Entrepreneur in Residence Michelle Maryns offers unique perspective for this effort; she is currently a finalist in the 2019 Minnesota Cup for her social enterprise!

Check out some of the entrepreneurial opportunities these students have had the chance to plug into: 
Write Away team on BeingWonderly podcast: Listen here 

About Michelle Maryns, Entrepreneur in Residence
Michelle Maryns is Founder & CEO of We Sparkle, the first Software as a Service (SaaS) social enterprise focused on small businesses. As former Chief of Strategic Initiatives at Meda, a nonprofit that helps minority entrepreneurs succeed, Michelle brings experience helping startups like Skip Scooters, Boosted Boards, Molly Fuller Design, Spinning Wylde, 26 Letters, Ova Woman, and Zaarly. She gained more than 10 years of digital marketing experience at Greater MSP, American Academy of Neurology, Reve Consulting, U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of State. She earned her Masters in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kansas.

For more information, contact Beth Tomscak at beth@jaum.org