JA Spotlight: Risha Jain
Author: Risha Jain
Published: Friday, 15 Apr 2022
Image caption: Risha Jain, CEO of ezypull
Hello! My name is Risha Jain, from Monte Vista High School in Danville California, I’m a student entrepreneur, and this is my story:
Growing up, I picked up quickly on the fact that everything surrounding me was a business – from where my parents went to work, to where I got my food from– everything. Infact, the public education system was created by a businessman. To me, a business is more than the simple exchange of a product for money. Rather, a business is also defined by the community, atmosphere, jobs, and support it creates. Junior Achievement provided my young entrepreneurial spirit with the stepping stones to dive deep into my curiosity regarding entrepreneurship. As a freshman, I joined the Junior Achievement Company Program where I became the CMO, chief information officer, for PopStiche. At PopStiche, our goal was to get people to put down the phone and talk to each other. We focused on promoting face-to-face interaction in our increasingly technological society. The PopStiche is an easy to use phone accessory that puts our messages at the forefront of customers’ minds whenever they use their phones. We based our product off of the graphic warning labels used to combat cigarette addiction by using reminders to change behavior. The positive reminders reinforce the importance of face-to-face interaction and discourage excessive phone use. Our designs consist of two collections: Socialize, which encourages social interaction, and Awareness, which aims to help people control their phone usage.
As CMO, I had the opportunity to create our company website site, maintain it, learn fancy terms like SEO (search engine optimization), how to generate more traffic to our site, and more. I had the guidance of my mentors to turn to when I needed help, and the support system allowed me to explore without hesitation. In the end, I probably created over twenty versions of our website all because I had the opportunity to explore, fail, and try again. There were no repercussions to my failure. All it meant was that I could use what I learned, and knowing what not to do, try a different way. This learning curve was a battle I fought happily because in the real world, starting a business tends to be a scary journey for many. Consider that many start-ups need around a hundred thousand dollars and most people need to quit their jobs in order to make enough time to pursue their side hustles. Junior Achievement essentially makes like Bruce lee and destroys the impediment of “consequences” often associated in the real world. If experience is deemed to be the best teacher, then imagine one where you also have the support of adult entrepreneurs to guide you. That’s basically Junior Achievement!
Another memorable part of my time as CMO for PopStiche was working alongside the sales division. We partnered with AT&T, pitched to the Golden State Warriors, got invited to be a key-note speaker at the Be Fearless Summit at UC Berkeley, and more. Our product is more than a phone accessory– it’s a way to reshape the norms of cellphone usage in order to better productivity, interaction, and the health of our society. At the end of the day, phones have replaced our alarm clocks, calendars, and even our cameras, and we focused on making sure it wouldn’t replace our friends and family too.
I used what I learned from my time at PopStiche to further develop my business acumen by becoming a CEO, chief information officer, next. I founded a company called Ezypull: Our mission at Ezypull is to provide people with a simple product that reduces the spread of germs, a touchless tool to a safer day. The Ezypull is a wrist lanyard with a door opener that allows for the touchless opening of doors. Other features of the Ezypull include the no-touch button presser, bottle opener, phone stand, and universal clip to attach other necessary items. It is convenient because you can grab one item and go!
As CEO, I learned that leadership is not limited to the ability to delegate. It also includes the ability to inspire, motivate, guide, and more. Being the leader means recognising the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in your company. Then, providing them with the opportunity to shine where they do best, and offering them help with where they are learning to grow. Furthermore, establishing good company communication habits and modes of communication were part of what I found vital to the success of Ezypull– especially considering that we launched during the beginning of the pandemic. I also found it important and impactful to create inclusive environments that foster collaboration and honesty. This journey was full of highs and lows. I couldn’t believe that despite being nothing more than a bunch of highschoolers, we were on ABC7 News being compared to the people on Shark Tank. Then, on other days, all I was doing was working nonstop for hours on end while my friends had fun. And yet, I enjoyed every moment of the experience. Every. Single. Moment.
This experience also opened my eyes to the truths of life. Complications, like a pandemic, happen in the real world, and that’s okay. My companies faced a multitude of problems, but it was never a concern of mine. Problems and issues are a part of life. I’ve learned that defines us as individuals and as companies is how we respond to them. In both my companies, we upheld moral codes and never once were willing to compromise on them. Part of our duty, we felt, was giving back. At Ezypull, we focused on uplifting different groups impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We had monthly donations and partnered with Sewa International, SheHelpsHer, Kaiser Permanente, and more. At PopStiche, we donated 20% of our profits to the Jed Foundation, focused on teen mental health. Giving back is very important to me and to Junior Achievement. Thanks to JA’s constant support and guidance, I pursued my interests and had fun all the while.
Today, I serve on the Junior Achievement Advisory Board, where I get to mentor others while also sharing student feedback, and furthering JA’s mission alongside them. I am thankful, from the bottom of my heart, for all of the wonderful opportunities Junior Achievement has given to me.