Mem­bers’ News

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

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents -

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.

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