JAUM Company of the Year Competition

Solupal – 2018 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 JA Company of the Year Competition

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 yesterday at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota campus.

This regional competition featured top student-led companies from high schools throughout Minnesota. Schools represented were Humboldt High School (St. Paul), Mounds View High School, Maple Grove Senior High School, and Venture Academy (Minneapolis). This year’s competition was unique in that every company had a socially-conscious component to their business plan, whether in the company’s mission or by giving a significant percentage of profits to charity.

Five students from Mounds View High School received top honors for their business, Solupal. The company offers an innovative and convenient alternative to traditional plastic bags that is not only 100 percent biodegradable, but also fully dissolvable in water, thereby empowering shoppers to be environmentally conscious without a high commitment.

As part of the JA Company of the Year competition, high school entrepreneur teams created a presentation about their company, presented to a judging panel of business leaders, and answered questions about their product or service. Solupal students 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 Maple Grove Senior High School for their company Pocket Perks, whose mission is to connect customers to discounts and deals at local businesses through a membership program. Each team member received a $500 post-secondary scholarship also courtesy of the Otto Bremer Trust. Third place honors went to Modus from Mounds View High School, a company that created a mobile app that tracks the expiration date of food items with the goal of reducing food waste. Each team member received a $250 post-secondary scholarship.

The Social Enterprise Award went to students from Humboldt High School for their business, Reflections. The students donated profits from the sale of their product, magnetic mirrors, to support the homeless. 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 create, market and operate an actual business,” 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 fifth annual Otto Bremer Student Entrepreneur of the Year. This year’s recipient is Michael Cao from Mounds View High School and member of the first place JA Company Program team, Solupal. Cao received a $1,000 post-secondary scholarship sponsored by Otto Bremer Trust.

The first, second, and third place teams from yesterday’s 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 2018.

Judges for the event were Mondo Davison, Founder of The Black Tech Guy; Charlotte Johnson, Co-CEO and Trustee of the Otto Bremer Trust; Christopher Lapp, Compliance Manager at CliftonLarsonAllen; Jeanne Voigt, founder and past CEO of MindWare; and Mike Zumwinkle, Senior Program Officer with the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation..

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.