Lemonade Stand 2.0
Many New Yorkers, including myself, are curious if the city has exchanged weather with Seattle (given the heavy amount of rain lately). Now, when a sunny day appears, we take every moment to be outside. Yesterday was one of those days and as I was walking to one of my favorite stores in Brooklyn, I stumbled across four young entrepreneurs selling lemonade on the corner. Ambitious and enthusiastic at the prospect of making a profit, these children tried to persuade me of my thirst and the need to purchase a tall glass of lemonade. It made me remember the days I hung a shingle in my neighborhood with a pitcher of Kool-aid, a card table and some construction paper.
These days, students are moving beyond the lemonade stand and taking their ambitions global. All over the world, young people are imagining new products and services that could revolutionize they way we live, just like FedEx did 37 years ago when we pioneered overnight delivery. Not only are they coming up with new ideas and solutions, but are approaching business with great concern for the environment, employees and ethics.
At FedEx, we celebrate these students’ spirit of entrepreneurship and ethical business principles that have been the hallmarks of our company. One of the ways we do this is through our support of Junior Achievement, an organization that educates youth on business, economics and succeeding in a global economy. This July, FedEx sponsored the first North American Junior Achievement Student Company of the Year Competition. One hundred students traveled from across the U.S. and Canada to Boston, bringing with them twenty different products and services, each vying to become the “JA Student Company of the Year.” Products ranged from environmentally friendly water bottles to garden mulch and were produced by student-led companies, all who had to create a business plan, issue stock, conduct market research and sell their products.
It was refreshing to meet student leaders who came from every background, creed and experience, joining with their peers to create real products for the today’s world. The most inspirational part of the competition was the confidence and pride these students had in their products and themselves. Story after story echoed a common theme – “I can start a business and I can succeed.” In these economic times, this is like that tall glass of lemonade on warm summer day.
One of the award-winning products was an eco-tote for carrying groceries and other items. These are a dime a dozen in NYC, but I always fail to remember mine when I head to the market or produce stand. The team from Atlanta tackled my “forgetfulness” by creating an eco-tote that would zip into a small carrying pouch, convenient to store in a glove compartment, purse or backpack, creating a greater likelihood of its use. It was this ingenious twist (along with being made of 100% recycled material) that would separate them from their competition.
As I returned from Boston to New York, I had a conversation with my spouse about the student company who won the FedEx Global Access Award, recognizing their masterful handling of international trade challenges. The JUMP team sold 2GB USB Flash Drives that were integrated into a custom-branded bracelet. Immediately, my spouse (who markets products) wondered if he might purchse some for a future sales event, leveraging the product’s capacity for information storage and branding. Right then, I knew the students were onto something.
So, while lemonade stands can be a welcome oasis, its the products and services these students create that could be the next economic engine to lead us through these economic times. These JA students will be the next generation of business leaders (and hopefully customers) and we are optimistic for what their future holds.
Junior Achievement North American Student Company of the Year Competition Awards:
- First Place: Brush Buddies Dental Kit of JA of Southern Alberta; Sold dental kits for children
- Second Place & FedEx Global Access Award: Jump for a Cause of JA of Atlanta; Sold 2GB USB flash drive bracelets
- Third Place: MagneticKit of JA of Georgia; Sold a multi-purpose personal planning kit
- HP Responsible Business Award: Project My World of JA of Georgia; Sold an eco-tote that collapsed into a zip pouch