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Students Reflect on Innovative Business Course and Pitch Competition
The culminating event of the University’s Business and Entrepreneurship course, the Pompea Business Plan EXPO and Competition enables students across all majors to create business plans that explore real-world problems and pitch their ideas to a panel of business executives and experts.
June 16, 2021
By Abby Murphy ’24, Ana Guillet ’24, Andrew Haller ’24, and Megan Bodmer ’24
Students in the University of New Haven’s “Business and Entrepreneurship” class (BUSA 1000) worked together throughout the spring semester to design innovative solutions to address real-world challenges. They collaborated to create a business plan, then pitched their ideas to judges at the Pompea Business Plan EXPO and Competition.
The teams, which included students from all sections of the class, presented ideas such as “The Golden Plate,” which captured first place in the competition, and would provide healthy food options in retail locations at affordable prices to low-income and underserved communities. Judges also praised “Talos Headphones,” which would offer wireless headphone charging, and “Healthier Minds,” which would provide support and access to a variety of health outlets through an app.
“This spring’s BUSA1000 students certainly leaned into the entrepreneurial mindset and exhibited adaptability, flexibility, and resiliency,” said Brian Marks, J.D., Ph.D., course coordinator and a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics and Business Analytics as well as executive director of the University’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program. “The winners are emblematic of this mindset and represent students across each of the academic colleges and schools at the University.”
Abby Murphy ’24
“Business and Entrepreneurship” (BUSA) is an amazing course run by a group of terrific professors. Throughout the course, we were assigned a semester-long team project to create a startup business. My teammates and I created “Healthier Minds,” which is a mental health app that provides several local resources for mental health and wellness in the New Haven area.
The concept includes a hotline, Yale “Good Life” lectures, lectures from other Connecticut colleges, counselors, a 24/7 live supportive chat, and tips to improve your mental health and wellness. The goal of the app is to make mental health resources more accessible for college students in the state of Connecticut.
Toward the end of the semester, my team pitched our business to a group of “investors.” Each day of competition, we presented to a panel of judges that later gave us valuable feedback to improve our mental health app. By the time my team made it to the final round, our business was as good as it could get. The outcome? Third place out of 30 teams.
I learned how to develop a startup business and pitch it to possible investors, which is valuable experience for my future endeavors as I plan to be an entrepreneur someday. I’m really proud of my team and of everything we accomplished this semester. I’m so grateful for this experience and for the ability to work in a team environment during this time in our lives, especially as opportunities were limited due to COVID-19.
I’d like to thank all the professors who made this event possible, including Dr. Kosmidou, Dr. Marks, Dr. Jones, Professor Sacco, and Dr. Deal. I want to give a huge shout out to Dr. Jones for her insight and guidance throughout this project and this semester. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Ana Guillet ’24
Being enrolled in “Business and Entrepreneurship” and attending the Pompea Business Plan EXPO was a truly memorable experience. Enrolled as a second semester first-year student, I found this to be the most immersive and valuable class I have had at the University. Taking part in the online competition, hearing the creative business ideas that the other teams shared, and having the feeling that my teammates and I had accomplished a ton contributed to my enjoyment of the experience. Equally as important was the presence of business professionals as judges. This allowed me, along with the rest of my peers, to hear sophisticated insight on the projects that were pitched.
While my team was not in the finals, I still took advantage of being an active and excited audience member when it came to the EXPO. My team had developed a business called “Bodies on Track” that allows clients to engage with personal trainers over live video so they can get a workout plan based upon what equipment or facilities they have access to.
In addition to improving physical health, our business was centered on improving mental health because we understood that the mind and body are connected. The work that my team accomplished throughout the semester taught me a lot about leadership and how to manage and encourage colleagues, which I believe are valuable skills for the real world.
I would like to recognize my professor, Dr. Marks, for not just an exciting class, but also for how he hosted the Pompea EXPO. He really made it a fun experience by including the audience and teams who did not make it to the finals. I would also like to thank the judges and other professors who put so much hard work into making this event one to remember.
Andrew Haller ’24
If you had told me at the start of this class that I would end up being a project leader, competing in the Pompea Business Plan Expo and Competition finals and capturing second place, I would have laughed. I never would have expected this to happen in the second semester of my first year of college. This was made possible by Dr. Kosmidou and my incredible team members, John Watters ’22, Madison Rivera ’23, and Tyler Ruocco ’23.
The product our “company,” “Talos Headphones” would sell is a bundle that comes with an induction charging headphone stand, induction charging headphones, and a cable to plug the headphone stand into the USB slot of your computer or an adapter. After plugging in the stand, to charge your headphones all you would have to do is rest them on the stand. It was a small, yet convenient innovation that hadn’t really been done before.
I came up with the idea of induction charging headphones while talking with a classmate in a separate class exercise. The exercise was about innovating on already existing items. After thinking about what items I had used the most throughout quarantine, I thought about my headphones because all of my classes were online last semester. The first thing I thought of was how easy it was to forget to plug my headphones in before I went to bed. I have a headphone stand I put my headphones on every night, but I still forget to actually plug them in. That led me to think about the wireless chargers that both Apple and Samsung use. If phones could use that type of technology, why couldn’t headphones?
After doing some research, I discovered there are few induction charging headphones on the market, and those that are available were only recently released. That’s when I knew there was a niche market for induction charging headphones that could be capitalized on.
Being a part of the EXPO, while a little stressful, was a lot of fun. As team leader, I was in charge of delegating tasks to each team member, figuring out what times everyone was able to meet, along with picking the direction I thought our idea should go in. Being the leader of this group taught me that trying to get four people together at the same time is next to impossible! Between studying for other classes, finals, and having to work on projects for other classes, finding a time together that works for all four people in the group was a challenge that I wasn’t expecting. There were several times in which only three out of the four group members could actually be present for a meeting, and we would have to catch up the remaining member at a different time.
Overall, the EXPO event was a blast. Seeing the ideas that each team came up with was really interesting. Some teams even had similar ideas but had drastically different executions. Even though Talos didn’t take home first, my teammates and I all had a great time and would compete again if given the chance!
Megan Bodmer ’24
This semester, I had the honor of serving as project manager for my group, “The Golden Plate,” during the Spring 2021 Pompea Business Plan EXPO and Competition.
One of my biggest takeaways from the “Business and Entrepreneurship” course is how to go through the process of problem identification, finding a solution, and creating a business model. For the final project, I had the opportunity to go through each step of the business development process. The project began with research and establishing our product. From there, my teammates and I focused on details such as the financials of the operations, the intended market, and how we would sell to that market. Once our information was in place, the slide deck was created so that we would be able to effectively pitch our business to potential investors.
During each stage, I applied the knowledge I learned from class to build the business model with my team. In addition, I also learned how to be an effective project manager. My role required leadership skills such as communicating to a group, making sure that tasks were completed in a timely manner, and ensuring that each member was ready when it came time to present.
The problem we focused on was food insecurity. This broad concept meant that we had to narrow down our options so that we would be able to develop a specific solution. Each member conducted research so that we could choose a specific location to focus on. The location we found that has high levels of food insecurity was Jefferson County, Mississippi. With a specific location in mind, we developed a food store that would sell healthy and affordable food options to this community.
Our business was inspired by our desire to “feed people how they deserve to be fed.” This catchphrase for our brand is based on the concept of “The Golden Rule,” so we came up with the company name “The Golden Plate.” After presenting to our class, my team progressed to the semifinals and we were later selected to participate in the finals. “The Golden Plate” received feedback after each round that was very valuable to our growth as a team. It helped us notice where certain areas needed some adjustments and how we could improve the delivery of our slide deck.
After we finished presenting during the Pompea Business Plan EXPO and Competition, I felt very proud of the effort and hard work that we all had put into this project. When the winners were announced, I recall feeling a wave of excitement and I could not stop smiling! It is such an honor that “The Golden Plate” was named the spring semester’s first place recipient.
By taking this course, I have been able to develop valuable skills that I will definitely be able to apply in the future. This includes, but is not limited to, how to work with a team, being a good leader, communicating with others, conducting research required to create a business pitch, adaptability, and how to present material to potential investors.
As a first-year student, I took this course with the intention of learning the ins and out of entrepreneurship. After my experience in the “Business and Entrepreneurship” course, I can confirm that my knowledge and experience in the subject have been expanded greatly.