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OtterBox protects what matters most — future generations — through the OtterCares Foundation. Using innovative education, OtterCares inspires youth entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Because one inspired kid really can change the world!

JA Company Program Graduate - Meet Deven!

By Jessica Dieken

As we work to create impact in our communities, we have some pretty amazing partners that share our vision of inspiring students to become entrepreneurs and philanthropists. One of those partners is Junior Achievement in San Diego.

 

We’ve had the privilege of working with Junior Achievement (JA) and have helped sponsor one of their awesome programs, JA Company Program. Dating back to 1919, Company Program gives high school students the opportunity to solve a problem they see in their communities through the creation of a real business. Students go through the entire start-up process, engage with industry mentors and participate in a shark-tank style pitch competition where they have the change to earn money to help make their business a reality. JA Company program helps students tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and ideas to create a product or service that has the potential to transform communities and people. Students that participate in JA Company program learn how to problem-solve, fail forward, think critically and hone excellent communication skills, making them well-rounded individuals that are ready to take on the problems of tomorrow.

 

One of these students is Deven. We had a chance to chat with Deven about his experience in JA Company Program and how the program really impacted him personally and changed is perspective on his future.

 

Hi Deven! Can you introduce yourself for us real quick?

Hi! My name is Deven Sharma. I’m 18 years old and am a senior in high school. I will be attending UC Berkeley in the upcoming fall.

 

Tell us a little about yourself.

Being an entrepreneur starts with believing in one’s self and trusting yourself to not only work hard, but to trust your instincts. For me personally, strong instincts have come from having a fast array of knowledge on many topics. I am constantly learning and applying what I learn which forces me to learn what works and what does not. Also, finding strong role models who have mastered what I’m trying to achieve is critically important. Finally, I take every opportunity to put myself out there because you never know when the right opportunity will stare you right in the face. I am an entrepreneur by choice. I have a car consulting company that help connect people with high end vehicles because this is what I enjoy. This has given me the privilege to buy my own car and gave me the opportunity to trade stocks. It has also, thankfully, allowed me to have funds in tight financial situations.

 

Great to meet you Deven and thank you for taking the time to chat with us about your experience in JA Company Program! First, tell us a little bit about the business you created and pitched during Company Program.

I pitched a towel company called Cor’well towels. We sold special windbreaker towels which fixed the problem of the beach being too cold at night. The towel was dual material with a nylon material on one side and a special microfiber on the other side. It trapped heat and dried quickly, fixing two problems at once.

 

What an awesome idea and it sounds like JA gave you the opportunity to tackle a real-world problem in a very unique way. Why did you want to be a part of JA Company Program?

I wanted to be apart of the JA company program because I am an entrepreneur and wanted to see how I compared to other kids in terms of business sense. I was running my car consulting company at the time and wanted to see if I could build something else completely different from scratch and be successful. Our team won the company team competition and, as the CEO, I was able to build and lead a successful team.

 

What a great way to hone and grow as an entrepreneur! We love seeing that spirit inside of young people and are really proud of you for pursuing your passions. Tell us some things you learned going through JA Company Program.

The JA program taught me how to run a larger organization (12 people vs. 3 people) more effectively. The company team competition also taught me how to more effectively raise money.

 

Two very important things to learn as an entrepreneur – people management and attracting potential financiers for your business. A lot of adults do not learn those skills until much later in life so great job learning that early so you an apply it sooner! We know you’re already a burgeoning entrepreneur, but how did participating in JA Company Program make you think about your future?

Going through the program helped my future because it helped build my confidence, leadership, and business sense. It helped me prove to myself I am capable of building even more and I am boundless as long as I apply what I have learned and never stop learning.

 

It sounds like JA really helped you grow in many facets of your life! That is awesome! How do you feel your experiences with JA have influenced you?

Junior Achievement played a role in many aspects of my personal success. Through this experience, I have built a higher level of confidence by being able to have to opportunity to speak to large groups with the proper guidance and mentorship. It helped me prove to myself I am capable- of building even more and I am boundless as long as I apply every aspect of what I learn, and of course, never stop learning.

 

Deven you’re awesome! Thank you for sharing a little bit about your journey with JA and your entrepreneurial aspirations. We cannot wait to see the impact you will make in this world!