Jim Beach has excelled at teaching his entire life. After leaving a position at Coca-Cola Japan (he got fired), at 25 he started a kids’ summer camp company that specialized in teaching advanced computer and tech skills at locations like Stanford, MIT, Georgetown, UCLA, Cambridge, and 84 other prestigious locations around the world. Using his curriculum and methodology, 10,000s kids were taught every day with amazing success. The programs were sponsored by Microsoft, Sony, Intel, Lego, the Discovery Channel, Swatch, George Lucas, Blizzard, and EA Games.
This business taught Jim two important lessons. First, he “borrowed” the idea for the business. He attended a computer camp at a small, abandoned resort in Connecticut as a teen. When he started his version, he did it better, much better. Instead of an abandoned resort, he based his program at MIT and Stanford. Hence, the School for Startups core belief that creativity is not needed to be an entrepreneur. 93% of businesses are copies of other businesses. Second, he started the business with $2,000 borrowed off a credit card and grew it to 650 employees in 7 years. He was a bootstrapper before he had heard the term. Hence, the School for Startups core belief that risk can be avoided.
After selling the summer computer camp business, Jim was invited to teach International Entrepreneurship at Georgia State University. It was a graduate class with Coke, Home Depot, and Delta employees taking classes at night. They were smart, aggressive, and hard-working. Jim bet the class he could start a business that semester, repaying all startup capital, becoming cash flow positive, and the class got to choose the country and industry he must operate in.
Jim won the bet and repeated it several semesters. The story became a McGraw-Hill best selling book. It also cemented the School for Startups core beliefs of zero-creativity, low-risk startups. The businesses that were part of the classes were all started for under $5,000. None could be called creative or new. Also, Jim saw that passion was not part of the process. Great businesses were built, passionlessly.
Jim was the highest-ranked teacher in the GSU business school for 12 straight semesters (out of over 600). He won the Study Abroad Teacher of the Year Award, a statewide award.
The School for Startup’s philosophies were now concrete. Creativity is awesome for artists, but not needed to be an entrepreneur. Risk should be reduced as much as possible. Almost all businesses can be started for under $5,000. Passion for religion and family are great. But entrepreneurs need only really like the model and they can love their lifestyle, their freedom, their ability to make more money if they work harder.
These strategies were further tested when Jim started working with the TYE organization. TIE is an organization with 55 chapters around the world. They run a global business plan competition for high school students. Jim has been the coach for the last several years and his teams have won (out of over 550 teams from around the globe) in 2014, 2017, and 2018. His college team won in 2019. More importantly, even though these companies were for a competition, they were all real businesses.
Jim guided one team, of 5 high school kids, as they ideated a baby wipe looking product called the Sweat Wipe. It was infused with menthol and makes a user feel 20 degrees cooler after wiping their forehead. The Atlanta Braves gave them away one hot day instead of bobbleheads. One team, again of high school kids, created a non-profit that sold carbon credits to small businesses. They had 55 paying, real customers before the competition occurred. Another business, started by high school kids, invented a paint that blocks harmful wifi signals from baby nurseries. They were awarded a patent and are currently negotiating with four paint companies to sell the patent. A cane with GPS that monitors the users’ blood pressure. A cheaper epinephrine injecting pen. An app that tracks drivers’ eyes and certifies that young drivers actually complete their driver education. A 100% recyclable water box to replace water bottles that destroy the environment. All real businesses with revenue. All started by teens. All coached by Jim.