Each year, hundreds of students submit their business plans to Junior Achievement of New York, hoping theirs will stick out, catch a judge’s eye, and ultimately take home the first place prize.
Conceived in 2008, the JA New York Business Plan Competition (BPC) is designed to give high school students the opportunity to learn hands-on how to build a business plan from the ground up and what it takes to earn the trust of others in the world of entrepreneurship. With the mentorship of corporate volunteers, each finalist group competes in a Shark Tank-like fashion, and, as every entrepreneur can vouch for, sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. Just ask Jackson Finio, 2013 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and JA New York alumnus.
Jackson spent his final three years of high school dedicated to developing business plans for the JA New York competition. Between 2011 and 2013, Jackson and his team competed in the Finals round of BPC three times, placing second in both 2011 and 2012. For their senior year, after years of hard work and preparation, Jackson and his teammates finally became the first place winners. That year represents more than just a winning year for Jackson’s team; it was the culmination of three years’ worth of research, planning, re-planning, and pitching their ideas.
Now, not only is Jackson a graduate of the University of Southern California with a degree in Computer Science and Business Administration, he is a co-founder of Fund3, a hedge fund that employs machine learning algorithms to capitalize on the volatility of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. In addition to earning significant bragging rights and prize money, Jackson credits JA New York’s Business Plan Competition for pushing him towards his career. He and his high school teammates looked into how they could turn their ideas into actions after their big win, but soon realized they were lacking both capital and technical training. Because of this, Jackson turned to computer science in college to gain the knowledge he would need to bring his ideas to life; when he partnered with other engineers during his senior year to found Fund3, he did just that.
As a successful young entrepreneur, Jackson embodies Junior Achievement’s mission to empower young people to own their economic success. Throughout his years of participating in BPC, he gained the real-world experience he needed to discover his passion and form his own path to entrepreneurial accomplishment. Jackson looks back on those three years and hopes that as a JA New York alumnus, he can help bring other students the same opportunity he had to leave his comfort zone and feel empowered to take the risks necessary to build a successful future.