New Business Plan Presentations Put Freshmen in the Spotlight

News Story: December 28, 2016
           Alumnus Phil Palmieri, president of IPS, and Welch College of Business Executive-in-residence Richard                             Robustelli evaluate Automated Cleaning Solutions, an automatic shower cleaning system.

Sacred Heart University freshmen pursuing business management degrees stepped into the spotlight during the University’s business plan poster session and final presentations that closed out the fall semester.

The event illustrated the work product of 10 classes in the Introduction to Business program at the University’s Jack Welch College of Business (WCOB). With coordination by Tuvana Rua, assistant professor of management, 41 teams made up of 300 students participated in the poster session. Ten teams, comprising five to six students each, participated in the final presentations.

All the work was assessed and best plans selected by a panel of business executives that included Jonas Angus, president of TPE Solutions; Adrian J. Little, president & CEO of American Oil Trading; Phil Palmieri, president of Integrated Print Solutions; Rick Robustelli, executive-in-residence at the WCOB; and Craig Winslow, most recently the chief credit officer for GE Capital’s retail finance business.

Of the plans displayed as posters, Automated Cleaning Solutions, an automatic shower cleaning system, took top honors. Among the presentations, Safelets (Kwame Adzenyah, Taylor Connors, Jessica Forlenzak, Beca Tytlar and Erin Wojcik—coached by Professor Sean Heffron), a safety bracelet that uses GPS locator services for parents to find and contact their children, placed first; Easy Bands (Elisa Desousa, Paige Digiacomo, Julia Gatto, Rachel Phelps, Anais Tavolara and Nicole Woznky—coached by Professor Jon Krchnavy), radio frequency identification bracelets took second; and Campus Bike (Jason Cote, Jason Cotton, Sean Dunleavy, Clifford Lindholm, Matthew Milia and Nickolas Sondej—coached by Professor Tuvana Rua), a bike-sharing system for university and college campuses, placed third. Other honorees included Value Trac interchangeable cleat athletic shoes, for best business idea; Smart Shopping, a grocery and bulk checkout system that scans all items at once, for best product; and Hanger Finds, a digital fashion-matching and sales platform, for best service.

Each student in all 10 classes made product/service suggestions at the beginning of the semester, and the ideas were culled to best concepts and developed as teams. Each group was charged with defining a mission statement, business idea and executive summary. The groups also had the challenges of creating a competitive analysis; assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to their concepts; creating a target market and positioning statement; conducting market research; determining marketing and promotion approaches; and, finally, compiling financials, including pricing and sales projections.

Rua said the program’s goal for students is “to get their creative juices running and teach them how a startup works and how the various functions work together. It’s also a way for them to find out more about themselves. About half of them are undecided about their majors,” she noted.

On a larger scale, the program is a stepping stone to a more comprehensive, entrepreneurial competency the University is establishing within the WCOB, Rua said.

Safelets team leader Beca Tytlar said she and her teammates “decided what our fortes were and worked together in that way. This provided us with hands-on experience on how the business world works, working as a team, coordinating our schedules, meeting deadlines and being organized. It definitely helps you choose your major, too. I realized I have a passion for marketing and advertising.”

Gianna DeAngelis, who spoke for team TheraSee—an easy-to-administer anxiety therapy using virtual reality technology—described how the concept came about. “I had tried a virtual reality device at a local mall that showed beach scenery,” DeAngelis said. “It was very relaxing, and I saw applications for therapy.” The program was incredible, she added, and it showed her how to manage a team and assemble a business plan.

Before announcing the awards, Angus told the students he was impressed with their efforts. “This is huge for the first year,” he said. “I see a lot of entrepreneurs here. Just putting your business plan together and acquiring the fundamental skills is key. Don’t take it for granted.”

Business Poster Session 12/9/16