Zac Northup is the Owner and founder of StandWatch Academy and located in Scott Depot, West Virginia – in Putnam County. StandWatch Academy’s mission is to teach young people how to conceptualize, launch and lead their own nonprofits, social enterprises or small businesses.

Northup is a veteran, entrepreneur, reformed financial advisor, and publisher. For close to 17 years, he ran his own consulting firm where he provided advice to multi-billion dollar companies and small mom-and-pop businesses alike, helping them discover new ways to reach new customers.

Northup talked with Jim Matuga, host of The Positively West Virginia Podcast, about the mission within his business, his documentary project and how the whole process of working with students is done.

What is your 30-second pitch for StandWatch Academy?

StandWatch Academy“Our mission is to help high school students in rural areas learn how to conceptualize, launch and lead their own small businesses, nonprofits, or social enterprises for the purpose of lifting themselves and their communities out of poverty,” stated Northup.

Talk a little bit about the documentary project.

“We were four years old and it was our fourth expedition; I wanted to tell the story more effectively. I reached out to Marshall School of Journalism and long story short we ended up with eight interns. We had a film crew plus designers and in the end, we had a full-fledged documentary. I didn’t tell the photographer what questions to ask, I just set up the interviews and told him it was up to him to take care of everything. They started filming January 1 and I didn’t see any of the footage until May 12. So all the questions they asked the people they interviewed were on them. It was a fantastic job. The quick product they showed me in May was good but then they gave me a drive full of video that they filmed over five months and I started watching it all. I thought okay we need to do something big with this so I ended up going back and redoing the edit. We did a theatrical premiere here in Teays Valley. West Virginia Public Radio came, watched and saw a story. Then the programming director for West Virginia Television contacted me and said they would like to broadcast it,” said Northup.

What are you excited about for your company right now?

“I have roughly seventy-five things that are really exciting to me right now. That is the number of kids I am working with from all of these different schools. The fact is the kids are just awesome. The high schools are Poka High School, Lincoln County High School, Sissonville High School, Calhoun Gilmer Career Tech Center and Nicholas County Career Tech Center. In every one of these schools, these kids are hardworking, brilliant, self motivated, have great ideas and that is what really gets me out of bed every morning knowing that I want to talk to some of these kids,” said Northup.

How does your program work?

StandWatch Academy“I contact the administrator or the principal of the high school and I tell them what I want to do. Then, I usually go to brief the teachers and tell them what I want to do. I then leave it up to the school and what students they want involved with this but I do give them some guidelines and the students have fit a certain demographic profile. The school selects students. I go in and brief the students, tell them what I want to do, I give them the standards and tell them that it is 100 percent mastery, meaning that they have to score so many points on each level in order to go to the next level and then it kicks off with a workshop. From there we do by-weekly visits in the classroom and just move through the whole process,” outlined Northup.

Northup was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.

PWV QUICK BITS | Stand Watch Academy 

  • RECOMMENDED BOOK: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt
  • PIECE OF ADVICE: “You should google design thinking, download a template and a lesson plan, learn it and follow it,” advised Northup.