JA Students Face Off at FedEx Junior Business Challenge Finals in Atlanta

August 22, 2019

JA Students Face Off at FedEx Junior Business Challenge Finals in Atlanta 

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Three JA student teams from around the United States met at the East Lake Golf Course in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday, August 21, for the third-annual FedEx Junior Business Challenge in conjunction with the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) TOUR Championship. The three teams, already having won their regional competitions in Texas, Connecticut, and Minnesota, took their products on the road to present their student companies to a panel of esteemed judges, including professional golfer Tommy Fleetwood and his caddy Ian Finnis, National Basketball Association (NBA) Champion and All-Star Steve Smith, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President of Media Content and Communications Laura Neal, and FedEx Small Business Grant Winner Ryan Lane, founder of Dream Beard.  

Student teams Our Story from JA of the Chisholm Trail (Texas, U.S.), Simplex of JA of Southwest New England (Connecticut, U.S.), and EcoSlurp of JA of the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, U.S.) each won their respective regional qualifying rounds to earn their spots at the FedEx Junior Business Challenge Finals. 

The night before the big event, students rehearsed presentations in front of business professionals—Paul Hourigan, Director of Sports Marketing for the Coca-Cola Company, and Chris Gray, Business Development Principal, New Ventures, with Southern Company—who provided feedback. With only four minutes to present their student companies the next day, the coaching was invaluable.

The teams were able to have a leisurely morning come Wednesday, but hit the road at 11:00am to head to East Lake Golf Course, where the PGA TOUR Championship was being held. Upon arrival just before noon, they set to work putting up their trade booths outside the FedEx hospitality tent overlooking the eighteenth hole. Around 1:00pm, the judges arrived and made their way to the trade show to speak to students and learn about their companies and products before the on-stage presentations.

The eighteenth hole as seen from the FedEx tent at the Junior Business Challenge.

The eighteenth hole as seen from the FedEx tent at the Junior Business Challenge.

After introductions from emcee Daniel Shoy, Jr., President and CEO of the East Lake Foundation, the teams not on stage had to wait outside as other teams presented to the judges.

First up, Simplex took the stage to present its product, a lanyard that offers a simple way to hold your keys, identification, and cards around your neck while also serving as a portable device to charge mobile phones.

EcoSlurp went next, presenting its environmentally friendly straws, which biodegrade 250 times faster than traditional plastic straws. (How’s that for strawesome?

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Last but certainly not least was Our Story. Their real-life experiences with anxiety and depression among their friends and classmates inspired their product, a motivational journal targeted to teen girls to help alleviate stress and anxiety and aid in setting and achieving goals.

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With a moving origin story, unique product, and clear mission, the judges named Our Story the 2019 FedEx Junior Business Challenge winners. Thanks to FedEx, JA of the Chisholm Trail will receive a $75,000 grant to help expand learning experiences in the Dallas–Fort Worth area.

Team Our Story with the judges.

Team Our Story with the judges.

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What’s next for this year’s winners? According to 16-year-old founder Kaylin Yudice, “We’re still writing our story.” So stay tuned!