This content is part of JA Europe‘s Knowledge Network on New Europe
Alexander Gram Jensen took part in the JA Company Programme in Denmark with Fonden for Entreprenørskab in 2016. With other classmates, he founded a student company at the age of 17. They developed the application “SubReader” that helps dyslexic people to read subtitles on inter- national TV and movies aloud.
SubReader Student Company won the main Award at JA Europe Company of the Year Competition 2016 in Lucerne, where 200+ young entrepreneurs from 35 European countries competed.
Alexander was awarded with the “JA Alumni Leadership Award”, a recognition given to individuals, who demonstrate outstanding leadership skills, which impact their team and the JA Company.
The JA Company Programme
Throughout the school year, students create their own venture taking an idea from conception to reality. Working as a team, managing all aspects of the business including raising capital, production, marketing and finance, they culminate the year by participating in competitions. The JA Company Programme also has a European competition for all national winning teams, organised each July.
Students who have successfully completed the JA Company Programme take a self-assessment test and a final knowledge and skills test to receive the Entrepreneurial Skills PassTM (ESP), the first pan-European entrepreneurship certification of entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and attitude.
My JA story
I’m in my last year of secondary school studying math and technology as main topics. Besides school I’m still working on the company “SubReader” that we licensed last year after we won the JA Europe Company of the Year Competition. We developed an app that helps dyslexic people by reading subtitles on international TV and movies aloud.
When we heard about the JA Company Programme with my friend Anders, we thought that it was a great opportunity to start our own project because we could develop it in school as well.
The idea came from my brother who is dyslexic himself. When we were watching an English movie at home, my mother had to read the subtitles aloud. That’s rather annoying when you watch “Lord of the Rings” for three hours in a row… That’s where the idea came from. So I had this personal feeling and motivation for developing the app and that probably helped us to be so good at last year’s competition and to decide to take the company one step further.
Thanks to the JA experience, I’ve learned to expand my network and get to know a lot of people. I’ve also learned that it’s ok to ask for help if it’s something you can’t do. You have to acknowledge that you aren’t the best at everything, the fact that you need help from others. When we were at the competition it was easy to see in which part of the business we were lacking skills and where we needed to improve.
With all the media coverage we’ve had after the competition and also acknowledgment among the business network in Denmark, it’s easier for us to get help now. So for me it has definitely been something that taught me about myself, what I’m great at and what I’m not. This experience has given me a confidence boost and I feel more entrepreneurial. I know where to ask for help and I think that’s the most important part I’ve learned last year.
I’m really excited about the next steps of our business plan. We finished the programming in January. Right now, we are starting to sell the app to cinemas at national level. In June, the first cinemas will be operational. By the end of the year, we hope to have 100 cinemas across Denmark and to have begun in Sweden and Norway.
We’re also developing different integrations with different services so that you can use it in the cinemas, Netflix, Airplay or other streaming services and also TV channels, to actually use it everywhere you have subtitles. In a longer perspective, it’s not only about the reading of subtitles, we would like to create a tool for dyslexic people that they can use in their spare time.
Next year, both Anders and I will work full time on the project to see how far we can take it in a year, then we will assess the results and see if we should take another year or maybe hire some external people to handle our tasks.
During the programme, I think it’s the year I have developed myself the most and learned so much about both business and sales and economics. It’s been great learning the whole business case! Since I’m in math and tech school, these are not subjects that I normally touch upon, but now that I had my own practical experience I feel more comfortable with it!