Schools are safe places for students to fail. The real world though can be less forgiving. Students at MUIDS risked other people’s money to found their own company; their efforts are paying off.
“We thought we could make a product that fit our generation’s ‘active lifestyle,” Jidapa Wachiradejkul (nickname Jamie) professed. She and sixteen other students worked together to found their own company, SDIUM, which makes reversible bags that cater to millennials and Generation Y, then entered their company into Junior Achievement’s annual entrepreneurship competition. The organization promotes entrepreneurship and financial literacy to high school age students.
“Students need to go beyond the classroom if they’re going to truly understand the meaning of entrepreneurship,” Ms. Fon, the company’s faculty advisor, added. “The JA students met at the beginning of the year and only had four months to found their own company, recruit other students, organize them into departments, research their market, come up with a product, and most importantly, raise money.”
Coming up with a unique product that would inspire confidence in investors forced Jamie and her fellow students to search for inspiration.
Creating a Product
“We discussed what we wanted to make and thought about what students like us would want. All of us noticed how inconvenient it was for students to go to gym class, sweat, and have nowhere to put their gym clothes. That inspired us to make small, flexible bags students could use to carry their clothes in. We surveyed several students and realized there was a large market for this kind of product.”
The final design helped the company raise just over fifty thousand baht in shares. “After we raised enough money we started making our product,” Witthawin Sinprasert (nickname Win), the company’s president, commented. “We worked with a local company to produce the bag while trying to meet the competition’s deadline.”
“Meeting that deadline was difficult, mainly for time management reasons. Unlike other schools, our Junior Achievement program is a club, not a class. Many of us are preparing for college admissions exams, studying for our classes, and participating in other clubs. All of us had to sacrifice just to make time to meet.”
“Another challenge was communications. We divided ourselves into different departments: Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, and Public Relations. Since we’re a new organization, it took more time than we thought to get everyone on the same page.”
The company produced enough bags in time before joining other international schools at Junior Achievement’s Trade Fair at Gateway Department Store. The experience gave them opportunities to interact with customers and prepare for their final presentation.
Entering the Competition
“We had to present our product to a Junior Achievement committee,” Jamie commented. “It was made up of entrepreneurs, business professors, and other professionals. We had to talk about our company’s financial health as well as other business related aspects of it, all in four minutes.”
Their hard work earned them the prize for best commercial and their company is well on its way to earning a profit.
“I’m grateful that all of us had a chance to not only apply what we’ve learned in our classes, but to work together as a team.”
Ms. Fon was equally glad: “There are things I can teach them in the classroom, but there also things that they have to learn on their own. Junior Achievement gave them an opportunity to do that.”
Interested parties can order SDIUM’s bags at the company’s Facebook page. Click on the link above for more information.