The organization then known as Edele entered the YouthBridge Social Enterprise and Innovation Competition in January, 2011. The mission of this student-started venture is to combat malnutrition through running. Janji makes running apparel modeled after a country’s flag, and sale proceeds address that country’s unique need related to food and water. The organization fosters a larger community of runners based on a shared commitment to improving lives across the globe. Team members include senior David Hamm, junior Sarah Fisher and recent graduates Mike Burnstein (AB 2012), Dave Spandorfer (BS 2011), and Kenny Fairleigh (BS 2011). The students are all current or previous members of Washington University’s cross country team.
Janji received a total of $15,000 in the YouthBridge SEIC, including the $10,000 Skandalaris award and the $5,000 award to the best student venture. In October, 2011, they won first place in the 2011 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS) Sports/Outdoors Business Plan Competition, beating out 15 other teams (mostly graduate students) to win the first place prize of $20,000. In May 2012 they released their first products nationally and in August 2012 they presented checks to the nonprofits working in Haiti and Kenya to solve those countries’ food and water problems.
Mike Burnstein in particular contributed much to the entrepreneurial ecosystem and culture on campus. He served as a Skandalaris Center student ambassador, as a Skandalaris intern, and took the Janji team to the Hatchery and then very successfully to the YouthBridge SEIC. Read more about the Colorado competition win or hear more from Mike about Janji’s founding with Dave Spandorfer and their inspiration for the venture. Janji apparel is sold at 90 stores nationwide and in the Bear Necessities store on the Washington University campus.