The Charger Blog

First-Year College of Business Students Pitch Innovative Ideas

After spending the semester researching and developing business ideas, more than 130 students had the opportunity to present their concepts to a panel of local executives.

July 10, 2019

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of the Nicholson Business Plan Expo
Students pitched their concepts to a panel of judges at the inaugural Nicholson Business Plan Expo.

Alyssa Stamets ’22 and her teammates know that driving in severe weather can be challenging – even dangerous.

As part of a project for their Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship class, they explored the market for a virtual reality technology that would help enable drivers to feel more comfortable behind the wheel, especially in severe weather.

At the inaugural Nicholson Business Plan Expo, the culminating experience for students taking the course, Stamets and her team pitched "Generation Simulation," capturing first place.

Image of first place winners
"Generation Simulation" captured first place, and the team’s name will be added to the Nicholson Business Plan Expo Cup.

"Accidents caused by severe weather have affected my teammates, and our friends and family members directly, and we believed simulation could help drivers," said Stamets, an accounting major with a minor in professional and technical writing. "I learned that dedication, research, and developing different skillsets are crucial to success."

The class enabled more than 130 students working in teams to develop a business idea, to learn how to write a business plan, and to present and pitch their idea. The program honors Alexander Nicholson Jr. ’63 A.S., ’65, ’78 EMBA, a longtime University supporter – and former member of the Board of Governors – who owned and operated a successful insurance agency.

"Over the course of the semester, students develop their business plan and prepare to succinctly and confidently present it to the College of Business Advisory Board," said Brian Kench, dean of the University’s College of Business. "Along the way, students improve their writing, presentation, and communication skills in a high-pressure environment. It is an experience that is unique among business programs, and it’s a true market differentiator for the University of New Haven."

"The College of Business is effecting meaningful, differentiating change at the University."Craig Douglas ’82 MBA

Introduction to Business and Entrepreneurship, which was offered for the first time this spring, will now be required for all first-year students in the College of Business. The course, which satisfies the University’s writing across the disciplines designation, will now be offered every fall and spring, with a culminating expo at the end of each semester.

As part of the expo, students presented their posters or pitched their business plan to the College of Business Advisory Board, whose nearly two dozen business leaders served as judges.

"The expo was an outstanding event and an extremely valuable experience for students," said Craig Douglas ’82 MBA, who retired in 2017 as vice president and treasurer of Stanley Black & Decker. "The College of Business is effecting meaningful, differentiating change at the University."

Adds Michael Maguire, chair of the University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program and a member of the College of Business Advisory Board, "On a scale of one to ten, the event was a 13."

Working in teams, students developed business plans for products and services that aimed to solve problems. Ideas included affordable, biodegradable straws to replace traditional plastic straws; a dorm delivery service, and a hydroponics system that would enable consumers to grow crops underground.

Image of Nyhsere Woodson ’21
Nyhsere Woodson ’21 and his team pitched "HydroVacc."

Nyhsere Woodson ’21 and his team wanted to do something to help consumers address the effects of climate change. Pitching HydroVacc, an aluminum "wet vacuum" that would remove water from coastal flooding and heavy rainfall, while filtering debris and salinity, Woodson and his teammates placed second in the competition.

"It was important to learn about the process of creating something that has the potential to alter the everyday lives of people," said Woodson, a business management major, who joined the University as a transfer student last fall. "In my group, I was appointed CEO by my teammates, and I learned how to ensure that everyone had roles in which they would succeed. I got a glimpse of what takes to lead a successful team."