Top of the Class

#33 How a 15 year-old Started a Revolutionary Global Organisation Using These Three Steps

February 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 33
Top of the Class
#33 How a 15 year-old Started a Revolutionary Global Organisation Using These Three Steps
Top of the Class
#33 How a 15 year-old Started a Revolutionary Global Organisation Using These Three Steps
Feb 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 33

From a young age, Komal has believed students should have more access to a career oriented curriculum. So she started her own organisation, BZBUCK, to do just that!

With a commitment to teaching entrepreneurship, finance and marketing to students of all ages, BZBUCK now has chapters around the world and has impacted nearly 10,000 students.

In this episode, Komal takes us through how she get started and the three steps for growing BZBUCK that can be applied to almost any organisation.

The Top of the Class podcast is powered by Crimson Education. If you want to learn more about your path to top US, UK or European universities, click here to request a free and private meeting with an Academic Advisor in your area.

Got a story to share? Komal contacted Top of the Class for an interview and you can too! Fill in this form to be considered for the show.

Interested in STEM? Download the Ultimate Resource Bank for Science Students with the favourite resources from young scientists featured on the Top of the Class.

Show Notes Transcript

From a young age, Komal has believed students should have more access to a career oriented curriculum. So she started her own organisation, BZBUCK, to do just that!

With a commitment to teaching entrepreneurship, finance and marketing to students of all ages, BZBUCK now has chapters around the world and has impacted nearly 10,000 students.

In this episode, Komal takes us through how she get started and the three steps for growing BZBUCK that can be applied to almost any organisation.

The Top of the Class podcast is powered by Crimson Education. If you want to learn more about your path to top US, UK or European universities, click here to request a free and private meeting with an Academic Advisor in your area.

Got a story to share? Komal contacted Top of the Class for an interview and you can too! Fill in this form to be considered for the show.

Interested in STEM? Download the Ultimate Resource Bank for Science Students with the favourite resources from young scientists featured on the Top of the Class.

Podcast Host  00:19

I'm your host Alex Cork and today I chat with the 15 year old founder of BZBUCK and California based student, Komal Vij. Komal started BZBUCK to teach a career oriented curriculum for students of all ages. The organization has now boomed with chapters around the world and nearly 10,000 students learning from his back. In this episode combo takes us through how she got started, the challenges she overcame, and the three steps to take so you can start your own organization. Let's chat with Komal Vij. Hi, Komal, welcome to the Top of the Class podcast. It's awesome to have you on the show. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Komal Vij  00:56

Well, thank you so much for having me. My name is Komal Vij and I'm a sophomore at Mountain House High School in Mountain House, California. And I'm excited to be chatting here with you today, Alexander.

Podcast Host  01:07

Yeah, absolutely. Well, sophomore, what does that mean in terms of age?

Komal Vij  01:11

That means 10th grade. So I'm currently 15 years old.

Podcast Host  01:13

And we're here to chat mainly about your work with BZBUCK, can you talk to that a little bit and what that's all about?

Komal Vij  01:21

Right. So BZBUCK is my international organization that makes career and technical education accessible to students from all backgrounds from all locations. And so we have chapters around the world where we introduce the fields of entrepreneurship, marketing, finance, business, administration, and more. So we really do go into those skills that are crucial in life, right that many schools miss out on, and it's starting to get there. But yeah, I started this one, I realized that this was a real problem, right? Even though we're almost there, many, many schools still do not offer this to students. So that is where this idea sprouted from.

Podcast Host  02:04

Yeah, like it's been a long standing issue in education, that there just isn't room to teach these kind of life skills. And it's great that this bag is addressing a lot of that. Can you talk me through I guess, what are some of the main you mentioned entrepreneurship, but as terms of like financial literacy, or what are some of the other main kind of goals of this bag to help kids with?

Komal Vij  02:24

Absolutely. So we have several projects, which all kind of address specific things. If you look at, you know, the business world, it's a huge term, right? It could mean anything. So we actually allow students to kind of pick and choose what they want to learn specifically, say if a student wants to, you know, if they express interest in the entrepreneurship field, if they say that this is something I might want to do in my future, right, this is something I might, I may want to do. So in that we kind of offer everything that you would need to know, to be an entrepreneur. So like all the basics. So obviously, that would include things like marketing and finance, if you are an entrepreneur, you have to know all of that to be your own boss, you need to be able to manage everything. So we go into that. Some students also kind of choose to just go specifically in marketing, if maybe instead of starting their own business, they want to work, you know, a corporate job in marketing, or if somebody wants to go into finance, so we have different levels in all our fields. So like, especially in finance, a student can choose whether they just want to go for financial literacy, or if they actually want to reach the level where they can pursue a career. But mainly, we would look at the basic literacy levels, what is something you would genuinely like you what is something you would need to know, to pursue a career, you know, something where all the skills combined, puts you ready to just launch yourself in the workplace. So that's what we work on making accessible to students.

Podcast Host  03:51

That's awesome. I mean, it sounds like that organization should already have existed, you know, so you're coming up through high school, and you're kind of seeing this gap. What was it that kind of generated that motivation for you to be like, hey, this organization that I thought should exist, something that addresses all these pain points, is not necessarily there. So what did you see in the education landscape that was attempting to address what you are now addressing, but wasn't quite there?

Komal Vij  04:20

So as it all started with the same question that you just said, this should have been there a long time ago. Um, so I think, you know, when I started this, I could walk us through like a three pointer thing on how I started this organization, right? I started with, you know, one finding an issue, what is the what is the problem here? And so, I didn't start off saying, I want to start an organization. Let me think of something to start an organization with, I started with looking at this problem, and I was like, Oh, my God, this is a huge issue. And it's not just in a specific location. It's not just in a specific age group. It's, you know, very widespread issue. And so I think it started with that problem where I started to kind of look at the depth of the issue. I've heard people talk about, you know, schools don't touch on this enough, I've heard it. But this is when I, you know, kind of sparked my interest. And I think that is something that's very important, especially if high school students want to start their own initiative. If it doesn't really spark your interest, it's definitely not worth it. Because not going to want to work towards that goal. But so I saw this issue. And then the second step, you know, that I addressed was, does this exist, which most of the time, yes, something will exist to fix this issue. But I researched and I researched, and I researched and nothing quite like this existed. And yes, there are several organizations that touch upon it, like, you know, deca, fbla, Model UN, but they have restrictions in the sense that it's only offered to ages or grades, you know, nine through 12. And so that's when I was like, why isn't there anything setting a foundation earlier? Right? Why can't we really set that strong foundation earlier. So when we do reach high school, it's merely an extension so that students already know what they're doing. You know, obviously, the earlier you start, the better you will be at it right, the more comfortable you will be. So that's when I realized that there's nothing like this, this is something that I really want to do. This is something that I want to see happen. And so then again, the third step was, how will I get from point A, where we are right now to point B. So obviously, we have tons of problems in our world, and many of them we can't fix, right? So coming up with a problem is one thing, but actually coming up with a vision and being able to execute and coming up with a plan. I think that's definitely the most important part. So once I did the first two things, I came up with a plan, right? And not just a short term plan, I came up with a long term plan of if I want to do this, what are my resources? You know, what am I going to ask for help? What is the structure of how I'm going to help students? how, you know, what is the location boundaries? What are the age boundaries. So all of that is when I think when you build a very strong structure, it minimizes how many challenges you'll face in the future. So that is one of the things that I really would like to emphasize on, especially if any other high school students want to start their own initiative, follow these three steps.

Podcast Host  07:22

I love it. That's so clear. And we'll definitely go into that third step more, because I know that's like a whole, you do a whole podcast in that third step, right. But what's the timeline like from that idea to where you are now,

Komal Vij  07:34

so it's not something that happened overnight, obviously, especially when it's such a widespread goal. And it's, you have to pave your own path, right? It's not like, there's a preset instruction manual for you, or, you know, someone telling you what to do. This is something that was definitely challenging, because I'm trying to figure out how to reach my goal. But alone, right. And so this actually started a long time ago, when you think of the actual origin of it, where my this, you know, when it sparked my interest was a long time ago, I was probably seven or eight, when I first realized that it was a problem. So I was very young, obviously, you know, the actual organization and everything came later. But yeah, the actual origins was a while ago, and throughout the years, I've just been really exploring it, because instead of just, you know, taking action right away, I wanted to, I wanted to make sure that I know what I'm stepping into. And I wanted to make sure I understand the problem. So I have been looking at this issue for many, many years. And I'm lucky to have parents who are also, you know, heavily involved in the workplace, and who can also see the gap between this education and, you know, just throwing students into the workplace after high school or college. So I also got some exposure through there. But yeah, I've just been looking at this issue for a long time. And obviously, as I grew my understanding of the issue it you know, it got deeper and deeper. And so at one point, it reached or reached that depth where I understood that, okay, now I can do something, I have the resources to do something. And so that's when it started. But generally, I have been watching this for a long time, I didn't just wake up one day and say, Oh, I want to do this.

Podcast Host  09:19

Really interesting. You had the idea when you were seven or eight. I mean, that's starting very, very early. But I guess when you do have that initial Spark, when you're that young, it does mature over the years, and it's fantastic that is now coming into fruition with this book, but I'm interested in there is two barriers that I think a lot of students have to starting an organization, one's knowledge, one's age, and it's just understanding like, Oh, you know, do I have the knowledge to do this organization? Or am I old enough to do an organization like this? Because I think a lot of people have that preconception that in order to start an organization, you need to be either an adult, at least need to be like 17 or 18 in the final years of school so you can have that quote unquote leadership role, whatever it might be, but what was your kind of approach to this? Did you feel any of those barriers, as you started to turn this idea into an organization or did none of those barriers really come up for you

Komal Vij  10:11

100% age has been something that often feels like a very strong fence right in front of you something that restricts you, and I think a lot of the time, people don't see the potential, you know, beyond just that number. And so that is definitely something that I, you know, this is something that I was genuinely interested in, this is something that I wanted to change. But looking at my age, a lot of people were like, you know, how are you going to do that? So it's definitely not been a piece of cake to just get out there and say, you know, I'm young, but I'll do it, right, I think a piece of advice, I would say, is just thinking about it isn't going to do it. If you are genuinely interested in something, and you have an idea of how you want to put it into action, do it, I think you should do it. And maybe you know, maybe the application doesn't quite match what you were thinking, I think whatever you can get your hands on whatever exposure, do it right. So if you're interested in a specific topic, maybe find a professor at a local university who is researching that, or, you know, however small, however big maybe sit in on a corporate meeting, and you know, they might be discussing something you're interested in. So I think it all starts with the willingness to put your foot out there. And just begin, right, if you keep thinking that I don't know how to do this, I want to make a huge organization, I want it to be, you know, international, I want to reach this many people, those are setting goals before you even kind of put your foot out the door. Right? So I think that is definitely one thing I did. It was just this is something I want to do. And I'm just I'm going to start. And so this organization wasn't even meant to be an organization. I didn't think you know, oh, I want to start an organization, what will it be? This started as something I wanted to do. And I said, You know what, I'm not really sure how to do it yet, but at least I can do it in my community. And so people you know, I met every day or younger students in our elementary schools, I started locally, I said, if I can make a difference locally, that's still a difference that's better than sitting in my room and dreaming about a huge organization. And I think that's a pattern that I've seen in many successful student led organization, or many organizations in general, that the person who is interested in making a change or making an impact, they kind of they begin one day, right? And so you can't I don't think you can ever reach what you're dreaming of until you actually start. So that would be one piece of advice that obviously that that I dealt with. But in terms of age, again, a lot of our boundaries are self set, right? So before, even if people weren't telling me, oh, you're too young, I would feel that sometimes I would be like, Oh, I'm too young, maybe I can't do this, maybe I can't do that. I think that is something that maybe if other people are setting restrictions on you, you can't change that. But you can change the restrictions that you're setting on yourself. So I think the most important thing is looking at your resources, looking at the situation you're in and making the best possible thing out of it. Right. So that's what I would say,

Podcast Host  13:20

awesome. Well, I love that idea of taking that first step. And I'd like you to take us back to when you took that first step. Was it like creating a flyer? Or was it create, you know, telling a teacher like, Hey, I would love to teach an after school class? Or was it kind of talking to your friends and saying, Hey, you know, who would be interested in this kind of thing? Like, what was your very first step from turning it into action?

Komal Vij  13:44

I think my first step was when I came up with a mock lesson. And I went to the principal of a local elementary school, I set up a meeting with her and I said that here, this is something that I've come up with. And I want to know if you'd be interested in incorporating this into, you know, the lessons for some of the younger students. And they actually have this thing called genius hour where every week they have, you know, a maybe like an hour where they devote time to investing in their futures. So other than just the core subjects, what is something you're interested in and kind of developing the interest? So what I came to offer to her was, this is something that I think some students would be interested in. And that was my first step. And obviously, that that is kind of a huge step, right? It's more than just starting a little flyer, you know, something else, but I just I started right, I took that step. And I was like, this is something I have, what are your thoughts? And I didn't show up genuinely knowing that I had the best lesson plan or anything. I just, you know, I generally came to her and I said that this is what I have. What do you think, what are your thoughts? Is this horrible, right? So I had that meeting with her and she was blown away. She loved it, and she Incorporated. So ever since then, the local elementary schools, they've been using our lesson plans. And I think that's when it started. And so again, I didn't mean for any of this to get this big, it started, people loved it parents loved the exposure that their students were getting students, you know, devoted students loved it, they were like, I, you know, I want to keep doing this. I think a lot of students have so much potential, but sometimes they don't have the opportunities to express them, right. They're too busy in their daily schedules and their school and their sports, where they don't, they don't even have the opportunity to maybe some of them don't even know what they can do. Right. So I know one time I met a student, and they were like, I didn't know I could do this. But now I know, I know. So I think giving that opportunity. I saw students, I saw that light bulb, right, I saw that light bulb light up in students. And I was like, Wow, this is awesome. And then from there, it kind of spread like rapid fire.

Podcast Host  15:56

Yeah. So that first meeting with a principal, I mean, amazing that the principal said yes. and was like, what, you're probably 14 at the time or something like that.

Komal Vij  16:06

Yes. 14.

Podcast Host  16:07

Yeah, yes, you afford any of the time I commend the principal for taking that meeting. I know, obviously, you've asked him for that meeting. But sometimes, like in those early days, it's easy for people who have been in education for a number of years, or have kind of that authority in a way to say no, it's easy to kind of decline the meeting or be like, hey, look, it's a good attempt. But, you know, we'll pass the stage because they don't want to be the guinea pig necessarily. But you know, the school put themselves forward and they became the guinea pig. So for any students out there, like, if you go to a different organization, and I always say to students, like a great place to start is other schools, because there's one thing students know, it's schools, it might be their own school, or might be nearby schools, and might be schools that you have your brothers or sisters in, or primary schools, whatever it might be, but start with schools, because they're always a good place for students to start in. And the principal gave you the nod of approval, you've put that first class together. And then I'm going to guess you started thinking, Okay, what else do we want to teach in BZBUCK? And how do I actually start acquiring the knowledge to be able to teach this, you know, to get to a stage that is of particular standard that we're proud of that the students recognizes? Hi, that educators recognizes high that the parents recognize as a good level of education. So you must have been like going through a lot of different resources and trying to acquire all of this lesson plans and all these different things to try and make it a an actual teaching organization. What was that process? Like?

Komal Vij  17:34

So yeah, it was definitely ironic at first because it's like, I'm no expert, right? All I'm trying to do is reach, you know, fill this gap reach that goal. So it was ironic in the sense that, okay, I'm teaching people a couple years younger than me everything they need to know about life. Right? So in that sense, it was kind of funny. But when I talk to the principal, I didn't even know she was going to say, Yes, I thought she was likely saying no, um, but when that happened, I kind of thought, okay, if I want to move forward with this, I have to look at how I'm going to move forward with this, right, putting it in a, you know, making an impact in my local community is a different thing. But if I'm spreading it, I have to know what I'm doing. Right, I have to have that knowledge. And I have to know what resources that I'm acquiring all this information from. So that was definitely something that I really had to something I had to, you know, focus on. But ultimately, it came down to looking at teachers who are CTE certified, meaning they are actually certified to teach career and technical education. So that it started at our school, but then it spread to the entire CT network of teachers. So teachers around the nation who are helping come up with these, you know, who have actually learned this or mastered this in college, right. And then also, I'm also earning two associate's degrees in our local college here. And so I worked with some of the professors who also saw potential in this plan, and they, you know, wanted to contribute. And so they also looked at it. And first of all, they're not very experienced in teaching children that young, their professors, but I think the way that they put together the information and the resources that they gave me, that they would normally give to students in their college classes, I took everything that I could find, I've gone to like the deep, deep end of the internet trying to find the most information. And so I've squeezed the information out of every resource I could possibly find, and put it together in a way that's fun, that's entertaining, and that's informational for the students. But that process definitely wasn't easy. Again, having a plan and you know, a vision is one thing, but executing that is a completely different thing. So that was one thing that I think would set apart students who have successful initiatives and students who have just kind of started it but never really finished it. So that work in the middle, the logistics and all of that, that is extremely important. And I think critical, like planning on that end is very important. It could make or break an initiative.

Podcast Host  20:13

Yeah. Well, I know there's probably a lot of students listening to this podcast thinking that sounds like a tire job. And how does school fit in with all of this? So you said you're going to associate degrees at a local college as well. A lot of the time when I've asked for feedback about the podcast, students say, the organization's and the extracurriculars sad, awesome. But how do students make this work alongside like, normal school? So what's that been like for you in that bouncing app?

Komal Vij  20:42

It's not been easy, I think, because I'm also very devoted to my own education as much as I also want to make education accessible to other students. And that's why I think if this wasn't a cause that I genuinely was very interested in, it will be very hard, which is I don't know how some students kind of come up with a cause that, you know, they're not even that interested in and then they move forward with it. I don't even know how they do that. Because if so, if you genuinely liked something, it doesn't feel like you're working, right. We know that cliche. But I think it can definitely get overwhelming, especially if you have lots of advanced classes, extracurriculars, all that stuff. But I think ultimately comes down to the willingness to fit it into your schedule, right? If you're doing it, for the sake of it just to be a founder, it's not going to be easy. I think one of the one of the reasons that I've been able to do it is because I actually like doing this, right, this is what I would do in my free time, I like filling this gap and making this impact. But it comes down to time management and priorities and how you rearrange everything in your in your time to really be able to meet all of these goals. So also, one thing I would say is make sure you know what you're doing, you know what you're signing up for before you actually sign up. Because that can also lead to like burnout, it can lead to, you know, reaching nowhere and in your school and your extracurriculars. So it's definitely important to think about how much you're taking on and whether you can actually meet those goals. So yeah, before I took this on, if I just blindly signed up, I don't think I would have been able to make this impact along with school and everything else. But I think I the way I planned it, I knew what I was doing. And I just I carefully looked at my time management along the way. And I think that's the only reason that I was I've been able to juggle everything at the same time.

Podcast Host  22:37

Yeah, well, I love the idea that you planned, as you said earlier, you have a long term plan for this is not just like a short term starting organization, it's like starting organization, but then try and project forward two or three years, you know, how might it grow? What might it be on my side in terms of work? And how much time would it take for me to make this organization reach its potential? Have you bought any other students in though, to help with the workload at all? Is there any other like staff helping with this bug?

Komal Vij  23:07

Essentially, it's me running the international organization. But yes, so we do have students who are also extremely committed to this cause. And so they're helping out in their own chapter. So every chapter that we have, has its own little team where they run like the operation, the local operations. So in that time, then we have like some outreach directors or some people to do help with the workload. And I think, you know, it's, it's really cool, because students who are really good at what they do, right, like a very niche job, they do that full time. So if you look at starting an organization, right, it's like you're an entrepreneur, you're doing everything right at the beginning, you have to fill, you have to wear every cap, you have to complete every role. But I think once you start getting teams, it's interesting, because you can see people who are really good at that one thing they do, and then that entire team coming together where everybody's good at what they do. And that way, it's really, it's really beneficial to the organization, because that way, you know, it helps it helps with the workload to but yeah, I think that way, it's also easier to get other students involved. So I think that's where it branched from work with other students. So I went around trying to find students who also really wanted to do this, or students who also really wanted to do this and had some skill that they can also contribute to. And so it started from there. And now you know, we have teams who help with all kinds of things. And so that's how we're able to manage everything. If I was still doing everything alone. I have no idea how I would be able to do it.

Podcast Host  24:45

Yeah, well, I've got so many questions for you based off all these things. I'm like, I'm trying to remember all the questions that keep coming up as you chat. But it's really interesting to look at what your typical tasks were when you first started the organization like what was a week in the life of a founder of BZBUCK in those first couple of weeks, versus what your typical roles are, and tasks today. So I'm going to guess like in those early stages, you were probably delivering the classes or writing the curriculum, that kind of thing. But now you're probably more managing the teams and the distribution of the curriculum. Is that about right or am I completely wrong on that?

Komal Vij  25:23

That's my right. Yeah. So. So when it started, it wasn't even an official organization. It was just a little club that I read in my head. And I was like, Okay, I want to do this. And so I was doing everything right, I was pitching it to all these teachers, the principal's I was writing the curriculum, I was coming up with a plan. And again, if you don't have a long term plan, it's just all going to, you know, you're gonna face so many challenges and everything. So I was doing everything. And I think that year, that few months, that was a lot, that was overwhelming, because I was like, My hands were on everything. And so at this point, like later, we got students involved. But at the beginning, those students didn't even know what this book was at the time, right? I just created it, it was just a vision in my head, I didn't even know how to execute it. So that did take a lot of work to get it to the point where other students are hearing about it. And they're like, Oh, I want to join, right? spreading it, just to that point is not easy. So I wasn't everything at the beginning. But then slowly, we got students who, you know, reached out and said, I want to help with this, you know, I like this. And so now, I'm still doing a good amount of work, because I don't, I don't want to dump anything on everyone. So anyone who is contributing to the organization, it's like, as a hobby, this is something they actually want to do, I didn't want to really get anyone involved to just, you know, if they were just doing it for the sake of it, or if they were just doing it for a title or if they were just doing it for their resume, wanted to get people involved who actually liked it. Like if they took an hour out every week, for their free time. If this is what they wanted to do, then I would be like, yes, you know, I would love to have you involved. And so that that's where it started. And then it's less than it was, but sometimes I have to try and keep my own head out of it. Because I again, I really like this cause, right? So I get lost in it myself, trying to grow the organization and reach because, you know, regardless of how big we are, right now, there are still schools out there. And there's still students out there who don't have access to us yet. Right. And so once you get a little taste of that, of that, you know, spread and of the impact you're making, it's really hard to stop. Right? So that yeah, that's but the growth has just been amazing. And the people who have helped out and contributed also are extremely and genuinely passionate, which is why I think it's grown so much to the point that it is today,

Podcast Host  27:48

How many schools or students do you think his back has been in contact with since you first started the organization.

Komal Vij  27:55

So in terms of like grades, it's a wide range. So right now we're catering to kindergarten through 12th. And so in that range, I would say, around 8000 9000, just in the US. But yeah, it's a it's a good amount of students just within the US, and we're growing a lot every single day. So like every single week, we have a new chapter starting and we have new sub chapters starting. And once we've, you know, kind of established a chapter at a specific school, it grows into other clubs. So like, say BZBUCK, at a specific school, would also start being connected with other clubs at that school. And so then it just kind of grows from there. So like the baseball club at one school might partner with the deca club at the same school, and it just keeps reaching more and more and more students. And so in that sense, it's it's really it's growing faster every every day.

Podcast Host  28:50

Yeah, that's fantastic. So generally speaking, though, the chapters, they are teaching students within a club format, so kind of like lunchtime meetings, or are they actually going into classrooms? Or are they actually delivering content through the CTE teachers? Like what's the general structure? Because I think it's fascinating, right? You start the organization after having a meeting with a principal with a lesson plan in your hand type of thing. And then the idea of like starting chapters and doing these kinds of things, that that sounds like very official, very formal. And it's just interesting to kind of understand from your side, how you manage that growth and what you were advising students to do. So I'm going to guess like there was a student from a different school being like, Hey, this is backlinks. Sounds great. I'd like to start it in my school. What do I do next other thing? I what would your advice be to students in that situation? And how did you manage that growth in a way that was both sustainable and kind of stay true to the original model or the original teachings that you thought would work best for students?

Komal Vij  29:50

Right, so I think the structure that I came up with shortly after I started executing my plan, this structure was the most efficient way to make sure That, you know, all the, or all the little groups of students because at the beginning students were just reaching out from all over us and all at once on social media. And, you know, I looked at I was like how I manage this, because at the beginning, it was like, Okay, one person from Arizona, one person from Australia, one person from India, right. So how I manage this, you know, they're different time zones, and there's different schools, there's different standards, all of that. And so that's when I got the idea of making, you know, these little groups that are like chapters. And so that way, the official organization has processes in place where, you know, you can officially sign up to start a chapter and someone will get back to you and say, you know, let's move forward with this, you know, how do you want to start at your school? Do you want it to? Do you want to start as a chapter, do you want to start it as a club? Again, is it like a lunchtime meeting thing. So our main goal is to make this education accessible. So that's why we've not set too many restrictions on how we're catering this education. Because obviously, once things go international, things get very different, right. So that's when this entire structure started. And that's when we start came up with these processes that okay, you know, every week, the official organization is going to send over this lesson plan to you, and your team needs to come up with an interactive activity to implement after the lesson, we give the original lesson, but then we let the chapter put their own little spin on it, or their own little touch to it. So that way does stay true to the official organization. And we do have restrictions in place. Like all you can't change everything. But we do also allow them to, you know, put their own spins on it. And then some things like events or webinars, some things that we have are just organization wide, where everybody from every chapter can join. So that way, there's also a sense of unity, but they're also able to shine in their own individual chapters.

Podcast Host  31:54

I love that. So you're giving some kind of chance for leadership for each chapter leader, I guess, in saying that, you can put your own spin on this lesson plan and make it your own. So that's really cool. And so you basically have to write out these processes, and then put a sign up form and, and all these kinds of logistics that you had to put together pretty early on, right? As soon as people start catching on that this was something that they would be interested in doing in their school, you're like, Okay, just give me a sec, I'm just gonna write this in, you know, like, how to guide or setting up bids back in your school type of thing with a chapter or a club. And so yeah, that that's really interesting. And how do the teachers get involved in these back? What's their role in this, because I think that's like a really critical part of a organization growing through schools student buy in is fantastic. And I don't deny that that's like a critical ingredient. But having teacher buy in is even a little bit better, because teachers are most likely going to be there longer term than most students. So what's their role in this whole process?

Komal Vij  32:53

So yeah, so as you said, there are you know, routes that are most likely to stay longer than students, especially if they're in their later years of high school. And so those include actual workplace professionals who contribute to organization and teachers. So usually how it goes is students reach out saying they're very interested, you know, they follow the process to start their own chapter. And then we require having some sort of adult advisor, right, so like some teacher with credentials to supervise, right, all the operations that are going on in the local chapter. And so obviously, we try not to put too much work on the advisors, but you know, there to oversee everything that's going on, and to look at the curriculum and things like that. And so obviously, that they're like, you know, the main anchor of the chapter, so that if all the, you know, the students who are in the leadership roles, if they all graduate, there's still a teacher who can make sure that younger students can start to fill those roles. And so, in terms of that, we also do have a legacy concept, where once a student, you know, is old enough to graduate. And if they did hold a leadership status at their BZBUCK chapter, then they would pass on the legacy to somebody younger, or somebody they've been training or somebody that has been, you know, shadowing them for the past few years. And so this is something that other organizations like DECA also follow. But that's also something we do to ensure that the younger students who are learning when they reach that stage, then they become the leaders. And so it's like, a beautiful, ongoing wave of learning to leadership, right. And so that that is something that we can actually measure the growth and we can see immense growth, right, if we see a freshman who came into this club, thinking it was interesting, and then they end up graduating as the president of the BZBUCK club, that shows how much that they were able to grow throughout. So it's an ongoing cycle of, you know, learning and then teaching what you've learned, and then those people grow up and they teach what they've learned. And so that's how we ensure that this is not just going to be like a long one. Time thing once everyone graduates, you know, oh, there's no one there. So that's that's how we keep that in check.

Podcast Host  35:06

I think it's such a good idea to ensure the continual growth and the continual importance of the club within the school is to have the adult supervision, the, you know, CTE teacher there. And one thing that I think is really important for students if they're wanting to do this, and something that I think you picked up on, is the idea that you don't want to overburden teachers, you know, a lot of teachers are already very busy. So you put them kind of in a mentorship kind of role. But it is related to their role as well. Like, they would want to say students interested in the thing that they're teaching. So students out there wanting to start a math club or wanting to start a book club or wanting to start any kind of club or organization, getting teacher buy in is great, but it's got to be teacher buy in that number one shows the teacher that this could make their job that little bit easier, and that it would have students be more passionate about the subject that the teacher teaches, right? So it's like a win win for the teacher, really, they've got passionate students, and they've got a club that has been bought in, they don't necessarily need to start it, it just kind of is already they have the structures already there. They just need to support it and mentor it. I think that's very, very clever. Did you have any buy in or initially like advice from CT teachers about creating that structure? Or did you just come up with that on your own?

Komal Vij  36:25

Oh, I think it was the other way around. So I came up with the idea. And I then I got CT teacher buy in, and I was like, Okay, I got confirmation that this is a good idea. And so obviously, right, when I looked at this situation, um, you know, our organization goal is heavily, you know, we heavily emphasize making this education accessible to students. But then we also have to think about how much load we're putting on the teachers and how much, you know, tasks, were really filling up the to do list. So that's not our intention at all. And so when we look at that, we tried to set it up in a way that it's also benefiting the teachers and their classrooms. So I can give you an example, one of our chapters Recently, there is a marketing teacher. And so a couple of their marketing students reached out to bespoke wanting to start their own chapter, since they're taking a marketing class in their school. That's something they wanted to focus on in the bespoke curriculum. And so when the teacher found out that there's, you know, an external curriculum coming in, and the students have chosen to do that, they've chosen to put their time and effort into this, and teach even younger students, the teacher commented on that thing that students that they might teach years ahead of time are already being taught right now. So it's not only the fact that their current students are passionate, it's the students that they may get into three, four years, who are, you know, starting to learn about it now. So by the time they reach the classroom, they're ready to go, right. They're passionate, they're interested in this field. And most of all, they have a solid foundation. And so now is not the time to you know, in high school is not the time to set that foundation. It's the time where you kind of put your final touches or your last extensions, and then we go into the workplace. So that that is how we set it up. And so far, it's worked really well,

Podcast Host  38:10

that's awesome. Well, I'm interested as well as to how many fires you have to put out in any given week or month or what those kind of fires might be, because as an organization grows, and as you as like the head of the organization, I'm sure the buck stops with you, as they say, or the buck stops with you in this case. So I'm going to guess there's some instances where, you know, there might be a conflict between student or teacher or there might be a leadership kind of issue where there's a, you know, a student leader, but they're not doing the work that they should be doing, or whatever it might be. Yeah, what kind of typical fires? Or what kind of typical issues are you dealing with that, you know, might not necessarily be the glamorous side of being the founder of an organization?

Komal Vij  38:52

Right? So it happens, right? It happens with any initiative and your organization. And actually, I think that these fires are very, very crucial to the growth of the organization, because they kind of raised these issues in the structure or in the processes of the organization that you would have never even thought of before. And so every time you put out a fire, you know, you can ensure that that fire will never rise again. Right. And so I think that they're very important, but some of the typical things that we have to think about are, you know, some high school students sign up without the genuine willingness to put in the work or the genuine passion for this cause. And so I think the way that we've dealt with that is come up with like a way to find students who actually want to contribute, because there are many, many students out there. And I realized that it's not the lack of students out there. It's just the way that I'm finding these students, right, or the way that we are pushing. Like, who are we pushing this book out to right, who are we really advertising it to? Who are we putting it out there to and so I think that was extremely important because we don't want To be putting this organization out to students who don't really care about it right, or just kind of want to do it for the sake of it. So we found a way to get it in the hands of students who are interested in it. And so in that way, it was the most beneficial to both the organization and organization's mission. Because obviously, when people are genuinely passionate, genuinely interested in what they're doing, they're probably going to do a much, much better job. Right. So I think that that's where it started off. And yeah, usually we don't hit too many. I would like to say I did a good job in planning. We don't have too many conflicts like that. But yeah, one of the biggest ones would be, do they really like what they're doing? Or are they just doing it for the sake of it?

Podcast Host  40:50

Yeah, just doing it for resume padding. As you said earlier, I think it's very common theme that student organizations need to be prepared to, I guess, have that tough conversation with some students and be like, hey, look, you know, you've been in the organization for a little while now. And it's great, you got the title, but it does come with work. And if you're not prepared to put in that work, there's other people who are prepared to put in that work. Do you kind of like force people out and say, Hey, you kind of need to step down? Or, you know, what does that conversation look like?

Komal Vij  41:18

So it's not forcing people out? Usually, I think we've been I don't know if it's our amazing student leaders, or if we've just been lucky with this. But usually, what we try to do is just bring the situation, you know, surface up, what a lot of organizations do is kind of try and ignore the fact and kind of be like, hey, you need to, you know, get the work done. They kind of ignore the reality that, okay, there's some work and you're not doing the work that you should be doing. And I think that if they joined, they joined for a reason, even if it's not the most ideal reason that, you know, even if it's for resume padding, they could have chosen another place for resume padding, right. So even if they chose this place, there has to be some reason no matter how little there has to be some reason they chose this place. Right? And so I think what genuinely like generally, what I would try to do is bring out that reason, no matter how tiny Why did you join Facebook, right? And what what were you looking for when you join Facebook? And I think when you have that genuine conversation, it usually ends in a really good way. And the person kind of they understand they realize in themselves like, Oh, you know, I actually I did try this for a reason, I think I, I think I should put in more work or so we don't just say like, hey, you're not doing your work, you know, that's not how it generally would go. But I think it's surfacing reality the most, that brings out the passion, even if they didn't know they had it, right. And so every student leader finds that one little thing that they like, so for me, it was seeing that light bulb light up, and every student when they understood that I'm investing in my future right now, right, and this is something that I like doing. And so for another student leader, it might be something else. And so what we try to do is, let them find their Spark, what makes them really want to contribute to this cause. Now, some people may not want to at all, no matter how hard we try, but often, you know, it does work where if you find the genuine interest, they'll do the best work possible.

Podcast Host  43:20

Well, that's good leadership, then if you're seeing that issue, where someone's not really doing the work, and instead of, as you say, just pushing them out, you kind of say, hey, look up for a reason. Let's find that reason, because it's there somewhere. We just got to find it. Yeah, that's, that's really good. How do you go about finding student leaders, you did mention earlier that you were kind of running around finding students. And then some students were finding you on socials as well, I'm going to guess that was primarily Instagram. And you're also on LinkedIn and have a great presence there, too. But what have you found as the the kind of biggest factor in finding students, or the biggest way that you've been finding students to join us

Komal Vij  43:55

back? So I think it was more looking through the students that are interested rather than me, you know, going to the students. Again, I didn't expect it to be this big, right? I started as a little community thing, and it really grew. So I never, you know, luckily, I never actually had to face that fact, where I'm running around for students. It was tons of students coming to us super interested in this. And you know, obviously, not everybody can have a leadership position, you have to do some screening. And I think it was that where we put in the algorithm of pay, who is really good at what they do and who genuinely wants to help our cause and things like that. But definitely, that's definitely where it started. And social media, obviously, yes. So Instagram, that has also been one of our primary channels for students to get to know us and word of mouth is also huge. As I said, when we establish a chapter somewhere, you know, if the teacher gets involved, the teacher might walk into a staff room and tell the other teacher and then that teacher will tell someone else all over the phone that night or something like that. And so you'd be surprised when something revolutionary like this, that should have been there a long time ago comes up, people start talking about it right. And it really does spread, especially when literally everyone can contribute to this cause whether it's students who are coming to learn older students who are ready to teach workplace professionals who are really ready to give that advice, or teachers who are ready to supervise everything, everyone can have some say or have some, you know, role in contributing to this. And I'm pretty sure that's why it's spread so rapidly. So it's not like I put, you know, extra effort or anything to make it spread, it just kind of took off on its own.

Podcast Host  45:43

Yeah, absolutely. What have been some of the more unexpected things that have come up as a result of starting BZBUCK, or some of the unexpected lessons that you've had to learn as a result of starting BZBUCK?

Komal Vij  45:55

It happens with everything right? If there's an organization where the founder doesn't run into a bump, then I would be concerned, right, that doesn't happen often. So yeah, it's definitely happened. And I think one of those things would probably be sticking with something as much as you can. So like, the commitment when I went into this, I didn't know it would be as hard to be this young and pursue something like this, right. And that's not only saying that I you know, the workload or anything like that, but it's also saying, you know, how do people look at that number of your age, and just automatically think of some potential associated with it. So that is something that I've definitely struggled with, where I felt like, you know, when people look at me, they just see like a big age here, they just see my age, right. And that's when it came to sometimes where, you know, there might have been an awesome resource, but maybe they didn't see the potential BZBUCK had back then. And so maybe I couldn't use that. And maybe that put up some restrictions or put up some fences. But so age has definitely been one thing that you kind of have to keep pushing, right, you have to show and now, we've had people who said no way back when, who knows, see what this book is, and they're like, Oh, we were wrong, sorry. You know, we'd love to be a part of it. But yeah, in terms of that, you'll definitely run into roadblocks, no matter how much you plan, or you have a good structure. But my piece of advice would be, again, if you genuinely like this, no matter what you run into, you will be able to get through it, if you like it, you will find a way around it, you will find a way over it. And I think again, one other thing that I had to deal with was the workload, it was a lot of work. And this is not something that I was doing with other group of students. This is something that I started completely on my own right, with no adult support, either. This is something that I just I did. And so it the workload was also quite overwhelming, you know, with my classes and my extracurriculars. But there was tons of lessons that I was able to learn through this. That's primarily from the exposure to everything. So just like I said, a while back, putting my foot out there things that I would have never even tried. If it weren't for this book, I think I learned so so much that I will be able to use in the future. So you know, once you get that exposure, I did things that I never would have even thought of. So I think that has been an amazing experience.

Podcast Host  48:22

Yeah, well, obviously, you you're going out there and teaching eight to 9000 students. So that sounds like a pretty impressive thing that you never thought you would really be able to do, that you are now doing. And it's obviously growing very quickly as well. What's next for this buck? I mean, I know that obviously, you're expanding internationally, and you're running webinars and doing all kinds of cool things. And you're setting this all up at a time where no COVID is happening. So I think is back the potential to grow is even more when hopefully, students start coming back to school in greater numbers around the world. What do you hope to achieve with this back in the next 12 to 24 months,

Komal Vij  48:56

right, so the next steps are expanding, but with different perspective. So obviously COVID-19 pandemic change tons of things, right, especially when we came up with like, the whole chapter concept where they would mean their classrooms or their schools, all of that kind of change, right, and also how we're reaching other students that also kind of change. And so now the next steps are approaching our main goal and our mission from different perspectives. So there's tons of new projects that Facebook has in store that we are going to be employing very soon. And this time, it's going to be more of unifying all the chapters. So since we can all be virtual now, I think it's an amazing learning opportunity to learn from or you know, collaborate with someone your age that's across the nation, or that's across the world. So we're working on come up with the most creative ways, the most entertaining ways to get students excited about this and genuinely passion to get involved.

Podcast Host  49:58

Yeah, I think it's super exciting. If students wanted to either follow BZBUCK or get in contact with you, or are interested potentially, in starting a chapter at their own school, how would they best go about that?

Komal Vij  50:10

So our main point of contact would be the website, which is So is our main point of contact, it has everything from how to contact us and how to start a chapter and you know, everything like that. You can also follow on our Instagram, where we have more recent updates of what's going on in the organization. So those are probably the best ways to get in touch.

Podcast Host  50:33

I'll put them both in the show notes as well. And if they want to get in contact with you or follow your story, what would be the best way to do that? Yeah, you

Komal Vij  50:40

You can either find me on LinkedIn, or you can go on my Instagram handle as well, which is basically my name.

Podcast Host  50:49

Yeah. We'll add all those in the show notes. And yeah, it's been fantastic having you on before you go, though, do you have any last bits of advice? You've been so full of wisdom for this whole podcast episode? I know you were you said you squeezed the resources or squeeze the internet wisdom. So I'm going to ask you before you go, is there any more wisdom that you would have for students, if they're wanting to start something of their own of this kind of magnitude? What would be some of the lessons that you would want to give students before we head off?

Komal Vij  51:17

So the last things I would say is, if you genuinely have something that interests you like a niche problem, or something that not many organizations or individuals have done, go for it, you know, don't be intimidated by the fact that no one's done it, it might be because it's a very scary problem, because it's hard to solve. But you know, even if nobody else has done it, do it, because that's just even more incentive to do it, because no one's done it before. And so that and if it already does exist, I would say instead of starting your own thing, for the sake of it, or to have that title, join that large organization, you'll probably make more impact. So if you generally like something look for where you'll make more impact, whether it's starting your own, or joining a larger organization, so don't just do it for the sake of it, because you don't actually want to do it. It's a lot of work. So make sure that you know what you're signing up for, and you genuinely do want to pursue this. But other than that, I've had a lot of fun chatting here with you today, Alexander. And I think that top of the top of the class podcast is an amazing opportunity. And I think it's amazing how students who have already you know, done it can talk to students who want to do even more.

Podcast Host  52:30

I know this episode has been fantastic in terms of actually getting down into the details of like, what it looks like to start an organization like this, you know, writing out the processes of how students can start their own chapters, engaging teachers, you know, and just like the starting point of giving a lesson plan to a local principle, and how you turn that idea into reality. I think it's been super inspiring. So thank you, Komal, for sharing all of your insights. And I hope students do take advantage of the links in the show notes as well, and get in contact with you and perhaps even start their own chapter is back wherever they might be from around the world.