Looking to enter the restaurant business, David Horwich ’16 is taking part in the student Business Plan Competition for the second year in a row.
Horwich created an elevator pitch, which could last up to 90 seconds, for his concept Dash Spice Bar and Grill.
With Dash Spice, “you can select from 45 loose herbs and spices and 15 pre-made rubs to create your own rub and apply it to a locally sourced cut of meat, which is grilled right in front of you.”
The Elevator Pitch Contest took place in the Dolan School of Business on Saturday, Nov. 15, and gave Horwich and many other students the opportunity to learn how to effectively and concisely discuss their business ideas.
According to Dr. Chris Huntley, associate professor of information systems and operations management, the first part of the Business Plan Competition that took place in September was “a networking opportunity to meet with a lot of alums who do this kind of a thing for a living.” These alums served as mentors for students in helping them develop their pitches.
The second part of the competition was Startup Day, which took place on Oct. 19, and taught students how to come up with a business model that features “the overall layout, the bones for their business,” Huntley said.
The Elevator Pitch Contest followed up the Startup Day by showing students “how to take that business model and tell it to somebody in 90 seconds or less, with no props,” Huntley added.
According to Patricia Pivarnik of the DSB, Marketing Professor Dr. Mousumi Bose Godbole first taught the students how to write an elevator pitch. The students were then given time to practice writing their own 30 second pitches on basic items, such as highlighters.
Next, the students chose teams, each including members from at least two schools, and wrote their official 90 second-pitches. At the end, the teams each presented their pitches to a panel of judges, with $2,500 in prize money on the line.
Huntley hopes that students who participated in the event gained enthusiasm for their own business endeavors, knowledge for what it means to be an entrepreneur and an opportunity to network.
Entrepreneur of peerVantage, a company that started at Fairfield, Chris Snyder feels that “lifetime employment in great big companies is coming to an end, so small companies are coming back.” The Business Plan Competition is an opportunity for students to learn how to start a small company of their own.
According to David Murray, mentor coordinator of NCM Media Networks, the Business Plan Competition is a great way for students to foster any “entrepreneurial aspirations” they may have.
Fairfield alumnus Paul Lukas ’89 agrees that those with an entrepreneurial mentality will be more successful in the business world today and that the Business Plan Competition is “a great way to nurture that mindset.”
According to Horwich, this event should be a prerequisite for all business students.
“It teaches you so many skills that you can’t pick up in class. It teaches you to build a business from scratch and multitask in every single type of industry,” Horwich said. “I’ve learned everything from finance to management to sourcing. The list is endless.”
However, Huntley pointed out that business students aren’t the only ones who participate in the Business Plan Competition. In fact, at the Startup Day, over half of the students were engineering majors. Business students are in the minority.
Huntley also noted that age isn’t a factor when it comes to performing well at the competition.
“We’ve had two freshman winners over the years. This year, for the first time, we’re allowing graduate students to enter,” Huntley said. “So we don’t care how old you are. We just care that you’re a student.”
As a mentor, Murray values the opportunity to “be around young people and their ideas and energy, as well as thinking you can help them.”
According to Huntley, this isn’t the end of the Business Plan Competition. On Jan. 27, there will be a Spring Welcome and Kickoff, as well as a Practice Pitch Session on Feb. 24, where they will develop longer six-minute pitches instead. The Semifinal round will be held on Feb. 28, and the Final Round and Gala, featuring the top six student teams, will be held on Mar. 31.
The setup of the Final Round can be compared to the show “Shark Tank.” The DSB Dining Room will be filled with about 200 people and six or seven venture capitalists, similar to the ones on “Shark Tank,” who will judge the six finalist teams’ products, awarding $20,000 to the winning team, Huntley said.
Horwich believes that the Business Plan Competition is something that all students should get involved with and feels that “it is the most valuable experience that [he’s] had at Fairfield U by far.”