ZenBusiness Turns Report Cards Into an Entrepreneurial Opportunity

Old judgments, new business

Have you ever read Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham? It's about the commonalities between the Renaissance and the tech boom. But the first chapter starts as a screed against the school system. Graham describes it as something created to house children until parents get out of work, or can pop their offspring safely into legacy jobs.

Thus, it's not an institution designed to cultivate thriving, or even intelligence. It was designed using prison logic, so the arbitrary rules of popularity reflect penitentiary culture.

According to ZenBusiness—which provides tools to help entrepreneurs—one-third of successful business owners are considered neurodiverse. This "group," if we can call many things that don't fit into one box a group, is wired in different ways from what institutions consider normal. As such, they're among the least served in the education system.

So, Joan Creative helped ZenBusiness transform the abject misery of being measured by grades for 12 or more years. Instead, the team turned this practice into an opportunity via "Above the Grade."

We like how the shredded report cards become LLC certificates. That's some meaningful juju.

"Report cards represent the ultimate symbol of judgment when it comes to our education system,” observes agency creative director Tom Francesconi. "With this in mind, we challenged ourselves to not simply tear these symbols down, but to transform them into something meaningful, an opportunity for those affected to carve their own path forward through entrepreneurship."

All told, 2,023 LLC certificates will be created at no cost for the class of 2023, and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Recipients also receive six weeks of business coaching.

The campaign is built on findings from a U.S. survey of 1,000 adults between 18 and 25. Eighty percent of those people believe Gen Z will be the most entrepreneurial generation in the country's history, while 92 percent recognize the value of neurodiversity as a superpower in entrepreneurship.

"The education system isn’t built for neurodiverse minds, but the entrepreneurial world is," says Michael Fanuele, SVP brand and strategy at ZenBusiness. "Our study shows that many people with neurodiversity have skills that prime them for success, from creative thinking to hard-earned resilience. When they start businesses, we will all be better for it."


Joan Creative
CEO - Lisa Clunie
CCO - Jaime Robinson
MD - Sarah Collinson
Group Strategy Director - Kristin Van Note
Creative Director - Tom Francesconi
Account Director - Reid Burch
ACD - Jesse Stanton
ACD - Grace Hwang
Art Director: Giselle Lucero
Copywriter: Shirley Wang
Designer: Samantha Kim
PM - Diana Matthews

SVP, Head of Brand & Strategy - Michael Fanuele
VP, Media - Mallory Rogers
Creative Director - Kristen Williams
Head of Community - Marcela Shine
Marketing Content Strategist - L.J. Fogel
Director: Vince Sirico
Paper Production: Porridge Papers

Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is the European markets editor at Muse by Clio. She also writes about gaming and fashion, and whatever else she's interested in, really. She's based in Paris and North Italy, so if you're local, say hi. She might eat all your food.

Advertise With Us

Featured Clio Award Winner



The best in creativity delivered to your inbox every morning.