Bishop Stang HS Student Sam Yu Shows His Business Smarts | EDUBOSTON

Bishop Stang HS Student Sam Yu Shows His Business Smarts

Monday, Apr 16, 2018


Every year a US organization called “Junior Achievement” sponsors a program which helps high school students develop work-readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy skills through simulations and practical experience. This year, Sam (Zhanhua) Yu, a junior at EduBoston partner school Bishop Stang High School, took part in the program’s business simulation competition, the Junior Achievement Titan Business Challenge, and his team took third place and made quite an impression. 

The competition was held at the University of Massachusetts in Dartmouth, and more than 200 participants from 11 schools and 59 different teams participated. 

Sam’s team was the first in the program’s history – at least in the history of the local competition, which went bankrupt in the first round of the three-round competition yet ended up winning 3rd place overall in the competition!  It was also the first time that a team from Bishop Stang took home a prize.  Says Sam, “The were several really smart teams, but if we hadn’t messed up in the first round, we would have done better.” 

Each of the three members of the 3rd place team received a $500 scholarship to attend colleges of their choice, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which hosted the competition, offered an additional $500 scholarship to winning students who choose to attend there.   

What is the Junior Achievement (JA) Titan Challenge about?

The JA Titan program, from the organization’s website, “allows students to operate a virtual company through a Web-based simulation. The students' success depends on decisions about their product's price and their company's marketing, research and development, and business practices.”

For instance, Sam’s teammates in the Business Club at Bishop Stang worked after school with teacher and the club’s coordinator Edna McKenna, using with the Junior Achievement Titan software to learn and practice many aspects of running a business, including skills such as developing budgets, interpreting financial reports, setting prices, production, capital investment, research and development, marketing and charitable giving. 

The day of the event, the 59 participating teams competed in three rounds of play, simulating the planning and decision-making involved in a real business.  For the competition, Sam’s team created a high tech company and modeled their strategy on Apple’s – developing the newest technology and selling it at a premium price. 

How Did They Come Back to Win After Bankruptcy in the First Round?

“We spent a lot on Research and Development and marketing in the first round – too much,” explains Sam.  After their virtual company went bankrupt in round one, they changed their strategy. They continued to spend a lot on R & D but spent less on marketing. They also produced fewer products, “and had really high prices, “ says Sam. They did better, and by round three, found the magic formula for success. 

“Each round we changed things to make the business more successful.  In the third round, we had huge profits.  We had the most advanced technology in the market, but only slightly higher prices than the competition. We produced a lot and sold a lot.” 

Lessons Learned

Among the lessons learned from the experience, Sam said, “Don’t give up.”  He described how the team learned from their mistakes, “We kind of stressed after the first round, but we calmed down, thought about what we did, and came back.“ Another key lesson learned was the importance of analyzing and thinking through the business plan. “At first we followed our feeling more -- we didn’t think about it enough. I think we really learned that in business you have to think carefully, you can’t just put money on the table.”

He looks forward to participating in the JA Titan Challenge again next year.  “I like to be in competitions. I like to think about what are my advantages and disadvantages, so I can think about how to work with them.”