He was not the most outspoken member of the class, and possibly not the most ambitious. He was, however, the most tenacious, or perhaps better said, the most difficult to discourage. That’s how ISB student Albert Mingphakhanee became the owner of Caseveni
International School Bangkok ( ISB) took part in the Junior Achievement Company of the Year program in 2015, teaching groups of young entrepreneurs the initial steps in launching a company. The participants were tasked to write a mission and vision statement, sell 75 shares of stock, design, produce and market a product, and expand their product line all within one year. Along the way, an idea was born for Albert. When other students were intellectually debating different possible products, Albert drew up plans, built a relationship with a factory in Bangkok, and had a prototype of a computer case made.
As most entrepreneurs will say, ideas come more easily than real products. Albert brought his idea to life and then created a viable business by marketing and selling many of his cases to other organizations in Bangkok. Still not satisfied, he then realized his product range needed expanding: some people wanted convenience, while others wanted protection. Eventually, he bought the company from the shareholders and now sells a variety of cases produced by two different manufacturers.
What set Albert apart? His grit, his resilience, his ability to let the disappointments simply fuel future efforts, increasingly responsive to whatever imperfections had set him back previously. This in itself is a valuable lesson for all entrepreneurs.
ISB has a successful entrepreneurship program in high school and Albert’s recent achievements have inspired a new element of this program – “Shark Tank ISB.” It is another opportunity for students to turn their ideas and products into reality, providing the opportunity to pitch to a panel of experienced judges.
Based on the reality television show where venture capitalists consider investing in various new companies, every student puts together a business plan and an actual product or service to pitch to some possible “investors,” or more precisely, members from the ISB Parent Teacher Association.
The business experts on the panel select two or three to fund, with the students having six months to put plans into action and report back on their progress. This is an excellent learning experience for students, to support their planning, their marketing and their strategy development. However, it is not just about selling their products; there’s another requirement for having your idea selected in the ISB Shark Tank. Both recognizing the tremendous amount of need in the world and wishing to honor the school’s mission to encourage caring global citizens, all proposals are required to be social entrepreneurial ideas. They need to be business models or products that solve social problems. In each case, the student must begin by identifying a pressing need in their world, which their company will seek to address in some way. From there, he/ she builds a company hoping to make a difference.
The current ideas certainly inspire. One budding entrepreneur is working on a model for a water bottle made from bamboo in order to reduce plastic use, another is writing an app for non- Thai speakers to communicate better with taxi drivers in Bangkok in the hope to improve taxi drivers’ businesses. Humanely improving the lives of soi dogs is another goal, as is aiding small businesses in the Klong Toei neighborhood. Although the students’ ideas will have varying levels of impact – and assessing this impact is a component of the program – those who, like Albert, can embrace the challenges rather than be discouraged by them will develop the tools necessary to enact real change in this world.
Shark Tank ISB runs for 11th and 12th grade students, with expansion planned to include 10th grade. Students experience the highs and lows of building a real business, from dealing with manufacturing delays to the excitement of scaling up a business. Ultimately, Albert and his peers develop the transferable skills necessary to contribute to any business, making positive and lasting impact as they progress.
Students experience the highs and lows of building a real business, from dealing with manufacturing delays to the excitement of scaling up a business.