Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Students learn practical applications of theory through business pitch competition

A student team fine-tunes its pitch for the competition

OU-C students are applying classroom learning to practical situations through a business pitch competition. Students in faculty member Tanya Hire’s SAM 4700 “Managing Strategically in the Future” class have spent spring semester developing plans and presentations that will benefit them long after graduation.

The nine students in the class are divided into two teams that will compete in a campus business pitch competition at 9:30 a.m. on March 27 in the Technology and Business Development Center, Room 147. The two teams participating will be pitching their companies, OrthoMed and SkyEnergy. Each presentation will be 10 minutes long followed by a question and answer period with the judges. The public is invited to attend.   

As a capstone project, the endeavor encompasses a range of learning experiences.

“This exercise allows the students to apply concepts they have learned in the classroom to practical situations and is excellent preparation for their careers,” Hire said. “This helps to give them a better understanding of the components of any business entity and to learn how to take an idea from concept to completion and implementation.”

“The skills they acquire during this process will benefit them throughout their careers. In any organization, no matter how long it has been established, innovation is a critical component to organizational success, and this process encourages the students to take an innovative approach and utilize their critical thinking skills,” Hire said.

The local competition is part of a larger effort. The PORTSfuture project, in collaboration with Ohio University’s TechGROWTH Ohio, Shawnee State University, and OU-C, is holding a business pitch competition. Students must pitch an idea for a business involving any of the buildings, grounds, equipment and/or skilled staff available at the Gaseous Diffusion Plant site in Piketon.  This is an academic exercise and is funded by the PORTSfuture project (www.portsfuture.com), a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office.

A regional competition will take place at Shawnee State University in April.

”The PORTSfuture program, TechGROWTH and the entire regional entrepreneurial ecosystem deeply appreciate the OU-C faculty and students’ dedication to a rigorous regional exercise,” said Faith Knutsen, associate director of operations at  TechGROWTH Ohio.  “It takes a lot of cross-disciplinary skill to apply business know-how like market research, industry analysis and financial assessment, as well as strong presentational style, to a project of this sort.  Kudos to the teams for really engaging with this demanding assignment.”

 Members of Ohio University’s Voinovich Center have been offering insights and advice to the students throughout the process. The two teams will also be competing in the university-wide “Pitch us Your Plan” competition at the Student Expo held on the Athens campus April 10.

“The students’ grades will be based partially on how well they use and apply the feedback they receive from the campus, regional and Student Expo competitions,” Hire said.

The students benefit from the practical aspect of preparing for the competition and the insights they have gained through this endeavor.

“This experience of developing business plans will be especially beneficial,” said David Felty, who is
David Felty
pursuing a bachelor’s degree in applied management (BSAM). “This experience ties together everything that I have learned before. The presentation and communication skills will be helpful in my career.” Felty plans to pursue an MBA in finance and become a financial analyst.

Mishion Payne
“I am learning about the variety of steps and procedures in developing a business plan,” said Mishion Payne, an applied management major. “There are a lot of developmental steps I would not otherwise know about. I want to eventually manage a business, so this is ideal experience.”

Jordan Schaeffer
“This has been very helpful in allowing me to put two and two together. It is one thing to read about a concept in a book and another thing all together to put it into actual practice,” said Jordan Schaeffer, a health services administration major. “Previously, I did not know how to put together a business pitch. Now, I have learned to work as a team, and I feel I am better prepared for the workforce. It has been a challenge, but I have learned the importance of being prepared and being professional.”

Cory Porter
Fellow health services administration student Cory Porter said, “This project gives me more of an understanding of the business side of the profession and what goes into starting a business.  Never before have I done anything this detailed. I have learned what I need to think about in terms of setting short- and long-term goals.”

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