Monday, January 25, 2016

How to Succeed in Virtual Business Without Really Trying

This year in Northwest ISD marked the opening of V.R. Eaton High School, and with it the Academy of Business Management and Entrepreneurship (BME).  This means this is the last year for the flagship Virtual Enterprises International (VEI) class to be held at Byron Nelson High School.  Since this class deals with the creation and management of a "real" business in a virtual world, it will be moving to the BME Academy after this year.  VEI is a program where students learn about business by creating their own business in their classrooms, as shown in their video below:

About Virtual Enterprises International from VE International on Vimeo.

At Byron Nelson High School, currently the only school in Texas with a VEI course, Mr. Browarski's class has taken to this task like a fish to water.  They have taken a vision of a business and made it a working machine.  From payroll to HR, social media accounts to corporate webpages, marketing to online virtual marketplaces, their company Salubre has grown in leaps and bounds.  Check out their story and success at

What this group of students has done is more than just create a website.  They have created a business plan based on market research and models.  They have a team divided into departments to handle all the responsibilities a real company would have to face.  Students Ethan Langley and David Ryan, the Salubre Financial Team, discuss some of the intricacies of their company.  "Essentially there are all the facets of a real life company.  We keep track of the finances related to running our business, from sales and shipments to operating costs such as food, insurance, and utilities."  The work each group in the company has assigned to them is not random, as David explained. "Each department has a specific set of tasks to perform during the course of the school year, including using our personal pay from the company to invest in or buy merchandise from other VEI companies (schools) around the country to keep their companies in business."

The creative and marketing team members describe how they went about creating all of this.  The amount of software applications and skills that the team members have had to learn, often on their own initiative, is staggering. "We had to create logos, banners, catalog designs, web designs, all kinds of stuff," said Nathan Sokul from the creative team. "Primarily we use Adobe Illustrator, Indesign, Lightroom, and Photoshop.  If we didn't know how to use something we had to figure it out for ourselves.  I learned most of these during class by looking up video tutorials on YouTube or Lynda."  Hayden Rivers, part of the marketing team, said they used Wix to create the website and then linked it to Google Analytics to continuously assess their company's exposure.  "We have to do industry analysis by checking out prominent companies and looking at our VEI competitors."  They also use Google Docs and Google Drive to organize and collaborate within the company.  "Honestly, without this type of instant collaboration, this couldn't be done" says Hayden.  "With the plethora of videos and guides available to teach yourself, and such easy access to free and cheap software, it makes all this possible."

Mr. Browarski's class is special.  It's special because it isn't really a class at all: it's a business. A business developed and run by students.  A business that is connected to and collaborates with other businesses both locally and globally.  A business that has taught them life-long lessons by helping them to develop skills they can use as they enter the real business world.  A business that has taught them how to succeed.

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