Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Study In Success: USB Me

What do Methacton High School students, Lockheed-Martin, and Junior Achievement all have in common? Why, that would be a model start-up small business called USB Me. And you can help some of those Methacton students win a national competition scheduled for next week (see below).

Last fall, several Methacton business students (juniors & seniors) were selected to participate in the Junior Achievement program in partnership with area business entities, one of which was Lockheed-Martin in Upper Merion.
If you’re not aware of this international organization and what they do, Junior Achievement (JA) partners with local high schools to foster business-education partnerships with the goals of delivering relevant, responsive, and innovative programs that build young people's entrepreneurial, ethics/character, citizenship, financial literacy, and workforce readiness skills – things that our public schools don’t focus on or necessarily do well.  Their cooperative partnership programs within the business community help to inspire and empower young people to shape the future by igniting innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and teambuilding.
Lockheed, which for years operated under General Electric’s corporate umbrella as GE Aerospace, is primarily a defense contractor most famous for developing cutting-edge rocket and aerospace technology. It was purchased a few years back by Martin Marietta, and then merged with Lockheed to become the company it is today. Several of my closest friends, neighbors and constituents work or worked for them and are indeed among the best and brightest , innovative minds America has to offer. Their technology was significant in the effort to put a man on the moon back in the 60’s during the era of the Cold War and the ‘space race’.

Under a JA-corporate sponsorship, students come up with an idea for a business product, and  with the guidance of their corporate mentors, determine its viability, figure out how to produce/manufacture it,  assess what it costs to produce and how to price it, how to raise investment money, how to name, market and sell it, and then return dividends to their investors. They elect a corporate Board of Directors from among their ranks to oversee their venture, and a president & Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, VP of Marketing, VP of Sales, etc.
Additionally, each team identifies a local charity which will receive a portion of the proceeds of any sales revenue, so they also learn how to be good corporate citizens.

The team assigned to Lockheed, comprised of students from several area schools, listed below, including Methacton, developed a product called “USB Me”.  It’s basically a flash drive that can be worn as a wrist band/bracelet, so it’s always close at hand when you need to save a report or research.  The target marketing groups were middle school, high school and college students, as well as teachers.  
The USB Me team did quite well with their product, especially in terms of pre-sales and execution of their business plan. USB Me was named the Overall Best Company at the JA  Regional Competition this past spring and was selected to participate in the JA North American National Student Leadership Summit in Washington, DC next week.

USB Me was one of only 15 North American teams selected to attend this conference and compete to see which is the best Junior Achievement company in North America. 5 students were selected to represent the team in Washington; 4 are from Methacton (one is my son Wesley, entering his senior year) and 1 is from Coatesville Area School District.  

Teams are judged in three areas: their company "annual"/financial report, trade show booth, and promotional video. 

With regard to the report, the award for NYSE Best Financial Performance is at stake. NYSE representatives will select 5 finalists from the 15 competing teams;finalists will be interviewed by NYSE reps to evaluate criteria such as profitability, employee earnings, product quality, operational efficiency, leadership and stockholder expectations.

The JA Social Media Award will be presented at next week’s event to the team whose promotional video has the most“likes” based on a cumulative total from both Facebook and You Tube at the conclusion of the voting period (July 27). You can help! Do the Methacton team members a favor and vote for the USB Me video on You-Tube or Facebook! (results are cumulative, so please do both). Videos can be accessed using the following links:

and on Facebook here .   

The trade show booth winner will be determined next week at the competition based on interviews with each team member and observing their professional conduct, appearance, behavior, and how they work their booth to promote their product.

Other local companies which participated in sponsoring area high school students included The Vanguard Group, KPMG, SAP America, Aqua America, and Bimbo Bakeries  USA. In addition to Methacton, other area high schools with students participating in JA were Perkiomen Valley, Great Valley, Archbishop Ryan, Penncrest, Upper Darby, and Coatesville.

I think that in the current political environment which seems to villainize and/or take credit for successful business enterprises, and an economy that arguably stifles innovation and economic prosperity, the fact that a program like this is still around and flourishing, and that our high school students understand the value of entrepreneurship and have an interest in working with corporate mentors to learn the skills they need to succeed, gives me great hope for our future generations.  

One of the nicest aspects is that a 1981 Methacton grad (and classmate of mine), Gerri Vattimo, is the JA Company Program Manager, so if you would like more information about JA or corporate sponsoring of a JA group, please contact her  at, and be sure to check out the JA of the Delaware Valley website at .

Please join me in wishing the best of luck to the Methacton team in DC next week!!