When the group of Saint Rose students formulated their business plan for Benny’s Backpack, an all-in-one cooler and backpack that folds down to save space, they had to work through everything from the marketing to the organizational chart to the ever-challenging break-even analysis.
“It’s a real-world experience. I’ve never learned in a business class about everything that goes into a business,” said Sean Butkowski, a sophomore majoring in management whose group created Benny’s Backpack. “Everything that you learn in business just comes together, and it’s eye-opening.”
Every year, students in Business 111 are tasked with crafting a business plan for a service or product they feel could be successful. This year, the results included pet products and services, a car restoration company, tutoring businesses, healthy energy drinks, and more. And, as is tradition, the more than 50 mostly first-year business students presented those plans and practiced their elevator pitches at the Business 111 Showcase on November 30 in Saint Joseph Hall Auditorium.
The semester-long project starts with a concept, and then moves through every aspect of a business plan, including economics, marketing, management, finance, operations, and legal considerations. The course allows students to get a better sense of what area of business might interest them most, or as Dr. Haidy Brown, assistant professor of management, describes it, they sample from “the buffet of business majors.”
The exercise is structured to teach students that more goes into business plans than what they may see on TV shows like “Shark Tank.” Brown also uses real-world tools as part of the exercise, so students can familiarize themselves with them should they want to create their own businesses one day. For example, Butkowski’s group used the U.S. Small Business Administration’s online startup cost analysis tool to arrive at the financials for Benny’s Backpack.
Marketing major Rebecca Casey said her group, which created Life is Ruff, a dog-leash company, realized the market was already flooded with similar products, so the group had to find a way to differentiate its products. As a result, the leashes come with hooks for keys, a built-in flashlight, and other creature comforts designed to solve pet owners’ biggest dog-walking challenges.
“It’s about convenience of the consumer,” Casey said.
At the showcase, visitors and fellow students vote for the best presentation and the best idea.
This year’s winners included a metropolitan-style night club, Nite Lite, with team members Alexander Barnhill, Anna Cleary, Latiek Briscoe, Aissatou Deme, and Maeva Volny, who earned both the student and visitor vote for best presentation. Teach 4 Less, a business that links qualified tutors with students in need of the service, created by Makenna Curti, Audrey Logsdon, and Morgan Wesson, won the visitor vote for best idea. And Benny-Hertz, a new-age car company that combines solar power with electric, was designed by Delaney Baker, Aiden Blouin, Caleb Martin, and Jack Nothnagle and won the student vote for best idea.