On December 17, 2018, five companies made up of almost 50 JA Company Program® students from throughout the D.C. region pitched their new business ideas to a Shark Tank of investors with the hope of securing funds to launch their innovative companies.
Hosted by KPMG, the Quick Pitch Presentations were the first of three local competitions built into the JA Company Program, a six-month-long program in which students are challenged to work in teams and put their ideas into action by launching and operating a startup.
The students (mostly strangers before meeting this past October) range from 9-12th graders and represent more than 30 high schools throughout the DC area. In just two months the teams identified and rallied around a business venture, elected company leadership, and prepared their pitches – all while balancing school work, sports and other leadership responsibilities.
The rules of the Quick Pitch were as follows:
Students had no more than 2 minutes to pitch, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A with the sharks
Students were allowed to ask for no more than $500 and must match, through their own fundraising, dollar-for-dollar, any money they requested
At the end of each pitch, Sharks had the opportunity to counter-offer student companies to renegotiate their business deal
The five distinguished “Sharks” represent some of the region’s leading business leaders and entrepreneurs. JA thanks them for their commitment as they continue to advise the students as they launch and operate their new businesses. Our five sharks are as follows:
Jim Corcoran, former President of the NOVA Chamber of Commerce and current Executive Director at Washington Legal Foundation
Jennifer Curley, President and CEO of Curley Company
Anton De Roo, Senior Account Executive at UnitedHealthcare
Dr. Kanika Magee, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Executive Leadership Honors Program at the Howard University School of Business
Dan Maguire, CEO of TeraThink Corporation
The evening ended with each of the teams landing at least one business partner and securing start-up funds for their company:
ComfortKey (hosted by the Microsoft Store in Bethesda, MD) secured $300 from Mr. Corcoran and Dr. Magee in exchange for 20% of their company.
Grammar Matters (hosted by JA Finance Park Prince George’s County in Landover, MD) secured $200 from Mr. De Roo and Dr. Magee in exchange for 25% of their company.
Mind Over Matter (hosted by MOMNetwork in Springfield, VA) secured $200 from Mr. Corcoran and Mrs. Curley in exchange for 35% of their company.
ReLeaf (hosted by Accenture in Arlington, VA) secured $250 from Mr. Corcoran in exchange for 15% of their company.
Sipsy (hosted by JA Finance Park Fairfax County in Fairfax, VA) secured $300 from Mr. De Roo and Mr. Maguire committing to a 15% return on their investment.
The JA Company Program students will encore their business proposals at the first annual Trade Show on February 23, 2019 and first annual Spark Tank Competition on April 6, 2019, where the teams will compete for the title of D.C. Company of the Year and a chance to represent the D.C. area at the JA National Competition in June.
Learn more about JA Company Program here.
Interested in getting involved? Let us know! We are currently recruiting host sites, mentors, judges, sharks, and students for the 2019-20 JA Company Program.
Contact Gayle Robinson, Director, Program Innovation
at (703) 426-1564 or Gayle.Robinson@JA.org