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A Business Plan Competition Success Story

An Interview with Kyle Wong and Awad Sayeed

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 9.47.07 AMKyle Wong and Awad Sayeed are former Junior Achievement students and graduates of the Business Plan Competition. They credit their JA involvement for providing them with an invaluable business experience. Both of them are convinced that it inspired and positioned them for success as the founders of their own business ventures.

What was your involvement with JA?

Awad and Kyle participated in the 2008 pilot program of the JA New York Business Plan Competition. At the time, they were 12th grade students attending Brooklyn Technical High School. They both have the distinction of being members of the team awarded first place honors in the pilot year of the Business Plan Competition.

Within two months of winning the top prize, they successfully launched their business concept for MyCollegeStat.com, taking it from an abstract idea to a real world business enterprise. This experience deepened their entrepreneurial aspirations. The Business Plan Competition was an important step in the process of moving them from dreaming of starting and owning their own businesses to actually achieving this goal.

How did your success within JA influence your career?

“Once we saw we could put together a viable business plan, and pitch it to successful business leaders and investors, who took us seriously, there was no going back. We knew then what we wanted to do with our lives. We knew we wanted to start and own our own businesses,” said Awad.

What did you decide to do after high school?

After graduating from high school, Awad attended Baruch College and Kyle attended Stanford University. Bitten by the business enterprise bug, they immersed themselves in their schools’ entrepreneurial and business communities where they continued honing their skills and testing new business ideas. In college, Awad worked freelance for various clients on mobile and web development projects. He also developed and released his own software applications. The income he generated from his freelance work allowed him to make further investments in apparel and music ventures.

 

Tell us about your current venture, Pixlee.

Although they attended different schools, Awad and Kyle remained connected throughout college, and continued working together until they co‐founded Pixlee, an Andreessen Horowitz and XSeed Capital portfolio company. Pixlee was part of StartX, Stanford’s accelerator community project. Following graduation, Kyle and Awad relocated to East Palo Alto on the west coast. There, they continued to develop and grow their business team and company. Currently, Pixlee’s client list includes one third of the NBA teams.

It is clear that Awad and Kyle are well on their way to making their mark as successful serial business entrepreneurs. Most recently, Pixlee was featured in a Forbes Magazine article after successfully raising $1.5 million in capital to expand engineering and marketing personnel.

How was JA transformational in your life?

“Back in high school, when other students were getting ready for senior prom, we were preparing to pitch our business in front of a panel of experienced business professionals. This early taste of the challenges (as well as the rewards) of being an entrepreneur was both humbling and enamoring. I knew I wanted more. JA made us see that we had a real shot at making entrepreneurship into a living. This experience helped us to build self-confidence and provided us with the kind of expert business advice and feedback that money can’t buy. Thank you, Junior Achievement,” said Awad.