Published 01/07/11

First-year students develop business plans, pitch ideas

January 7, 2011

In the days and weeks leading up to the fall semester elevator pitch competition, Michael Malenfant ’14 (Lakeville, MA) and Lindsey Langella ’14 (Northport, NY) practiced their presentation for hours. Along with their teammates, they devised a plan for Cool Lips, a battery-operated cooling container that keeps lipstick or Chapstick at the ideal temperature.

Malenfant and Langella admit they were a bit nervous to step up on stage and explain their product to a roomful of classmates and business executives serving as judges, but they felt prepared.

“The amount of time, effort, brainpower, and cooperation that must be dedicated to building a successful business is immense. We wouldn’t have realized this without actually doing the work and experiencing it firsthand.”

Zachary Raffa

“Since we are passionate about our business and the product we created, it was easy to voice our ideas,” says Malenfant, who served as the group’s chief financial officer. This enthusiasm was rewarded as Cool Lips was selected as the “Most Likely to Succeed.”  

“The whole project was a fun learning experience because we had the opportunity to start a business from scratch, and ended up with the idea for a great product,” says Cool Lips HR Director Ariana Guilford ’14 (Brooklyn, NY).

‘Start of something really big’

Cool Lips was developed as part of Bryant’s innovative Business 101, a course taken by all first-year students that challenges them to come up with a product or service and create a full-scale business plan. The six members of Cool Lips started the project by each coming up with five potential businesses. They discussed and tweaked ideas until Cool Lips was born. 

“We were able to develop a team work ethic and see how effective a good group can be,” says Cool Lips Chief Operating Officer Ryan Martin ’14 (Warwick, RI). “This project gave me insight into how to create a real business and taught me how to become a better leader,” adds Cool Lips CEO Ashley Grady ’12 (Enfield, CT).

Langella, who came up with the idea for Cool Lips after discussing it with her mother, hopes to get the business up and running someday. Less than a month after the e-pitch, Cool Lips continued its momentum by capturing first place in the Business 101 marketing plan competition.

The group, which was part of Management Lecturer Glenn Jefferson’s class, will reconnect after winter break and plans to bring their idea to a business incubator that is being developed on campus by faculty members in the College of Business to help accelerate the development of students’ startup ideas.

The Cool Lips team already has plans to expand the idea to include a product to keep Chapstick from freezing in the winter months. “We hope the end of Business 101 is just the start of something really big,” says Langella, who served as the chief marketing officer.

‘Now I understand…’

As part of the Honors Business 101 courses, students worked with actual companies to help improve their business plans. Kyle Ebersold ’14 (Holland, MA) was the leader for “Team Bizdogs,” which worked with SF Auto, a New Bedford, MA-based aftermarket auto shop.

The group devised a new marketing plan to include radio, Internet, and newspaper advertisements; redesigned the company’s Web site; and created an operation plan that recommended a new location and a plan for hiring employees. Their plan was judged the best out of the three honors sections.

“We learned how to work together as a team to accomplish a common goal, to best utilize each of our individual strengths, to present ourselves in a professional manner, and to conduct thorough research” says Ebersold.

“Before Business 101, I did not know anything about business or marketing,” adds Delaney Carr ’14 (Tewksbury, MA), an actuarial math major. “Now I understand the life of a small business owner inside and out.”

‘Have what it takes’

Zachary Raffa ’13 (New Bedford, MA) says his work with SF Auto showed him just how much work goes into running a business.

“The amount of time, effort, brainpower, and cooperation that must be dedicated to building a successful business is immense,” says Raffa. “We wouldn’t have realized this without actually doing the work and experiencing it firsthand.”

Meagan Voulo ’14 (Nesconset, NY), a double concentrator in marketing and literary and cultural studies, spearheaded the creation of the marketing plan, while accounting concentrator, Allison Ravenelle ’14 (Smithfield, RI) gained experience working with financial statements.

“Once again our first-year students have proven that they have what it takes to be successful outside Bryant,” adds Management Lecturer Adam Rubin, who directed the honors students working with SF Auto.

‘Great experience’

Mike Aisenberg ’14 (Northborough, MA) helped his team capture “Best Pitch” for their product – Joey’s Innovative Cases – a cell phone carrying case that also holds credit cards, money, and keys in one safe location.

“Being able to tell so many people about a project we worked so hard on was a great experience,” says Aisenberg, who served as the group’s CEO. “We definitely learned that starting a business is a difficult task,” adds Keith Fischer, chief financial officer for Joey’s Innovative Cases.

The Sportalize group won “Crowd Favorite” at the e-pitch competition for their company that offers personalized tennis and golf accessories.  “I was so proud of our business, and I was excited to confidently answer questions that the judges had for us,” says Paige Andrews ’14 (Middleboro, MA), the group’s leader.

Both Sportlaize and Joey’s Innovative Cases were developed as part of the class taught by Management Lecturer and Krupp Library Reference Librarian Colleen Anderson.

‘Potential as actual businesses’

Book Shields captured second place in the Marketing Plan Competition for their product: a durable, waterproof book cover. “I learned that each part of a business fits together almost like a puzzle to achieve the ultimate goal of creating a product,” says David Fillingim ’14 (Norton, MA).

The teams selected to compete in the E-Pitch and Marketing Plan competitions were judged the best in each of the 12 sections of Business 101. More than 60 projects were created during the fall semester.

“I am always extremely proud to see these future entrepreneurs display their professionalism in front of such a large audience and before such a distinguished team of judges,” says Management Lecturer David Greenan, who was the instructor for Book Shields.

“Each year the students come up with more creative ideas for businesses and creative ways to market those ideas, adds Carol Demoranville, interim dean of the College of Business. “Virtually all of the ideas pitched have great potential as actual businesses.”

The elevator pitch competition has been sponsored each semester for nearly the last 10 years by Bryant's award-winning Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization chapter.