Three years ago, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida started an annual program entitled CEO Academy. This activity involves juniors and seniors from High Schools in Collier and Lee Counties in a one-week program in which they must develop a business plan for a new business.
Students from the high schools in our two counties come together at Florida Gulf Coast University, form teams of four or five, and with the help of business volunteers and college mentors including members of the Small Business Development Center, they learn how to put together a complete business plan. But first, they must come up with a novel idea for an activity that will earn them a proper income in four days time.
I was again privileged to attend the Friday session when the teams reported on their new businesses to be judged by a panel of five former Junior Achievement Hall of Fame honorees.
This year, there were four such teams competing and as before, they came up with some wonderful ideas for new businesses. Team No. 1 presented the plan for Property Medic LLC, a company that converts distressed foreclosed homes held by banks into saleable real estate. They accomplish this by having a staff of crafts people such as plumbers, carpenters, electricians and even landscape gardeners to completely renovate such properties until they are ready to be sold. They sell this service to the banks holding the mortgages for these properties thus saving a bank from having to find the needed crafts people to do the work. They not only convert these homes into saleable condition, but they create jobs, and they help to improve neighborhoods that include such properties. The banks, in using their service, save money and manpower by getting rid of their inventory of foreclosed homes.
Team No. 2 came up with Tips that stands for Team Injury Prevention Service. They would develop Seminars and a Day Camp to teach High School and College athletes ways to prevent sport injuries. The company would have a staff of people trained in this field led by a sports physician. Their services would be sold to the schools and colleges in the hopes that they would reduce or prevent sport injuries. It is also felt that the schools liability insurance premiums would be lowered for those using this service.
Team No. 3 came up with "iApllied", a firm that would help teens to find summer or part time jobs. The company provides a simple application form to be filled out by the teens that is then sent to all prospective employers such as Publix, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. There would be a one time $15 fee for each student enrolled in the program and the company would market their services to the students.
Team No. 4 developed a product called Vita Gum. This was a sugar-free chewing gum coated with the daily minimum requirement of vitamins and minerals. They planned to manufacture this gum themselves and then sell the product to all retailers who already sell chewing gum.
The judge's panel comprised of Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Laureates challenged each team with difficult questions about their proposals and the students did a beautiful job in answering the questions. The five judges were: Amy Gravina of Gravina Smith Matte & Arnold, Samira Beckwith of Hope Healthcare Services, Steve Pontius of Waterman Broadcasting, Dr. Paul Jones founder of Anchor Health Systems, and Al Reynolds of WilsonMiller. After deliberating, the judges announced that this year's winner was Team No. 1 Property Medic.
To come up with such new ideas and then develop them into a complete business plan with financials in just four days is an amazing feat and high credit must go to both the students and their mentors. But the highest praise must go to Junior Achievement who administer this program and whose sole function is to teach K-12 students about business and economics. They achieve this by having volunteers from the business world and academia teach the programs created by Junior Achievement, Inc. No other program utilizes volunteers from the real business world to bring reality to the textbook programs.
Our heartiest congratulations go to all the participating students and especially to the winning team. We also extend our heartfelt thanks to the volunteers who worked with the students and to the judges. And lest we forget, kudos go to the staff of Junior Achievement for sponsoring and administering this wonderful program. Hopefully, some of our readers will want to come to next year's program to see for themselves what these people accomplish.
submitted by Max Kalm