My journey to entrepreneurship
My JA journey started in a small high school in South London, on September 28, 2013. I sat down in the corner of a classroom, a quiet sixteen-year-old - still confused about what I had signed up for. I had never studied business, no experience of making money and the thought of running my own enterprise was about as ridiculous an idea I could think. Little did I know I had just begun the year-long programme that would change my life!
I was elected Sales Director of my student company (ACE), comprised of 24 students, two passionate business advisors and our determined centre leads. We soon decided on our product ‘Attachee’ a pressure sensitive sticky pad you can use to attach anything anywhere. With the business off and running ACE participated started participating in trade fairs, with every failure came new developments and we continually capitalised on our successes with new ideas in areas such as; marketing, product extension and team management.
We had our low points, falling victim to a production halt caused by the entrepreneur’s nightmare that is Chinese New Year. By far the hardest challenge was removing our Managing Director from the company, business amongst friends is a huge risk, but I am glad to say we luckily remained a close group after the program.
We were strong contenders in our competitions, and made it to the UK Company of Year finals, where ACE won. In the JA Europe final hosted in Tallinn, Estonia, we came in second place and won the Fed-Ex Access Award for demonstrating a comprehensive understanding of international trade and having a product with global potential. As our second place prise, our team received five full scholarships for first year study at the Estonian Business School. ACE never expected to go so far in the competition and we were very proud to represent our country, let alone receive such prestigious awards, beating over 250,000 other students in the European programme.
Soon after the JA Company Programme, my friend (and now business partner) and I decided we couldn’t put out the entrepreneurial fire burning inside us, and immediately threw ourselves into an iOS application idea. Sadly after almost a year of work we failed to launch due to unforeseen changes in the product. Even though it was disheartening to say goodbye to the idea, we learnt so much and benefited a lot from the process. Besides, if only 1 in 10 start-ups succeed we only have nine more to go!
Currently, I am studying International Business Administration in Estonia as part of the scholarship we received, and I am loving it. I am working on a new start-up idea, and continuing work with YE UK in the hopes of helping develop a sustainable national alumni chapter. We hope to create a supportive network of young entrepreneurs who have completed the JA Company Programme.
JA started my journey of entrepreneurship and I won’t let it end any time soon. I used to let the challenge scare me away, but now I feel as though the sky is the limit. All it takes is one idea to change everything, I hope you are searching for it, because I certainly am.
Kiran Arokiasamy is a JA Alumni from Young Enterprise UK, follow him on Twitter with @Karoki1A.