Often times, it’s an adult’s responsibility and obligation to pave the path and guide the youth into a better future. Teaching the next generation of entrepreneurs who discovered their passion and calling at an early age can prove to be a simple yet successful approach. Amber Christian asks some students that can represent their generation with similar interests their experience so far as having been able to get a taste of the industry. They share their passion and thoughts on creating their own company while showcasing their ideas and insights into what they expect entrepreneurship to be. Listen to James Hill, Deliing Chen, and Isabela Kunc of Write Away in this episode.
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Molding The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs With James Hill, Deliing Chen, And Isabela Kunc
I’m in the process of preparing season two for the show. While I’m working on that and those key changes, I have a series of special episodes for my followers. One of our key missions in the show is giving back and encouraging our next generation of entrepreneurs and people pursuing STEM. This comes from my background and my career in technology. Speaking of our next generation, we have a treat for you. Michelle Maryns, a previous guest on the podcast and fellow Founder of We Sparkle is teaching a Junior Achievement class here in Minnesota.
JA’s volunteer-driven kindergarten through twelfth-grade programs foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills. They’re used for experiential learning to inspire students to dream big and reach for their potential. We’re going to be having interviews with the students and hearing all about their companies. We’ve got the first group. It’s the first time they’ve been guests on the show. We’re going to switch around across all of the people on their team and we will introduce them. You can go ahead and go first.
I’m James Hill and I go to Hopkins High School. I am sixteen and I am the Founder of Write Away.
Before we get into what your company does, why did you join Junior Achievement?
Honestly, my mom said, “I’m signing you up for this thing called JA.” I was like, “Sure, why not?” I love doing business or entrepreneurship. I’ve been trying to do it ever since I was in fifth grade. I have tried to create something. I sold candy in middle school which was fun too. The teacher said we cannot do it anymore.
You’ve had entrepreneurship in your roots for a whole long time. Tell us more about the company. Give us the genesis of the idea behind this.
Write Away is based on helping your stress or anxiety. As I see it, a lot of people have anxiety with school and at home. They need something to hold on to. Write Away is a pen or pencil they can hold on to or you can fidget with because there are going to be things on the pencil. You can use it during tests or doing a presentation or if you’re in a business meeting, you can play around with it and it will help you calm down, help you focus on what you need to do.
Where did the idea come from? How did you come up with this?
I was overthinking a lot of ideas, what I need to do based on this thing I want to do for JA. I was sitting down and I was listening to Michelle, I was looking around and I mostly see everybody shaking their leg or playing with their hair, doing something that made them stressed and I was like, “Why not create something to hold on to like a pen or pencil?” People love pens or pencils and they use them every day. It will be great.
Entrepreneurship is such a journey for all of us. Share 1 or 2 things that have surprised you along the way on this journey.Thinking about starting a company may seem hard but once you do it, it’s actually a lot easier. Click To Tweet
The major thing is the people who joined me. Honestly, at first, I thought no one would until they heard my idea and other people around me are like, “That’s a great idea, James.” I was like, “Thank you.” Once people joined and were interested in the same thing as me, I was like, “This is going to be amazing. It’s going to be fun.”
What’s been the hardest part so far for you?
There are lots of things. I’ll say the manufacturing of the product and the name. I know with Write Away, you get the idea of something you write with. I know everybody goes around with names and they can’t stick with the name. We went around a couple of names, but Write Away sticks with us. We looked around. We see what’s out there and there are other things like that. The thing is, they said, “The product is horrible. The manufacturing is cheap. It’s nasty.” We want to be different from that. We want to have something that people use and it wouldn’t break in your hand.
Thank you so much for joining us, James. We’re going to go ahead and switch over to Deliing and ask her some additional questions. Deliing, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself as well?
My name is Deliing Chen. I am thirteen years old and I go to St. Paul Academy.
Why don’t you share a little bit more about this journey for Junior Achievement and why did you join?
In fourth grade, I went to Junior Achievement BizTown and I thought that was fun. When I heard that they had another program, I wanted to join it.
You’re also a part of the Write Away team and you’ve been learning what it’s been like to build a company. Why don’t you share 1 or 2 things that have surprised you along the way in this entrepreneurial journey?
I thought that creating a business might only take a month or two because I’ve seen on news, some businesses that became popular within five months, but it’s a long process and may take 1 or 2 years to accomplish.
You’ve learned that people might not be an overnight success and it takes a little while to get into the market. What’s been the most fun part of Junior Achievement for you so far?
I feel like I’m learning skills that I can use for the rest of my life and I can create a business on my own. I also have a lot of friends in this program so that makes it fun.
Thank you so much for being with us, Deliing.
Finally, we have Isabella, our third team member from Write Away. Isabella, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself? Tell us more about the school you go to.
I’m Isabella Kunc. I’m twelve years old. I go to Yinghua Academy, a Chinese immersion school.
Why don’t you tell us why you joined Junior Achievement?
I heard about Junior Achievement from a friend and like Deliing, I also did BizTown and I thought this would be a fun experience for older kids.
Why don’t you speak a little bit about the entrepreneurial journey and what you have learned on your entrepreneurial journey?
Before I started, I thought that building a company would be hard, that there would be some barrier I’d have to get over. When you hear stories about young kids starting businesses, I was like, “Those kids are cool.” Now that I’m here, I feel like it’s a lot easier, although maybe that might also be because I’m under the guidance of Junior Achievement and Michelle.
What has surprised you the most or been the most fun part of this for you, one of those two?
I find it fun that I’m learning a lot about starting businesses and stuff. It’s fun to be on a team with my friend, Deliing. I’m learning new skills but I feel like I’m also finding old skills that I learned before and I’m relearning them and using them in a new environment.
Thank you so much to the Write Away team for joining us. I’m sure you’re going to be hearing a lot more from them in the future. It’s time for all of you to go Being Wonderly.
About Michelle Maryns
Advised startups Ova Woman (OvaWoman.com), Boosted Boards (BoostedBoards.com, YC W18), Skip Scooters (SkipScooters.com, YC S12), 26 Letters (26letters.co), Molly Fuller Design (MollyFullerDesign.com), and Spinning Wylde (SpinningWylde.com). Also served as a Stitch Fix stylist on the side. Contract projects include work with Greater MSP/Make It. MSP./MSP Hello and WORKSHOP. Co-founded a Service Design Network (SDN) chapter in Minnesota that coordinated the Service Design Midwest Conference (www.sdnmidwest.com) along with the SDN Chicago chapter.
Recently led a group of high school students from China on a social entrepreneurship/social innovation ThinkImpact learning trip to Panama, where I taught them human-centered design thinking skills to help community members either improve their social enterprises or start new ones: https://www.facebook.com/piedrasgordaspanama.
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