It’s that exciting time in the semester when Intro to Business students begin selling their Venture Out products in and around the ACU community. The Loan Review meetings were last week and all groups have now received approval to procure or continue pre-selling their product.
The Venture Out class project is a frequently cited as a favorite project of COBA alums. Intro to Business students are assigned to teams within their class and together, they come up with a product to sell and a mini-business plan to explain how they will market it, drive customers to it, manage their inventory, and ultimately, what they will do with their profits. Favorite products of the past have been iphone covers, Kanye West style white shades, Rastafari wigs (hands down Dr. Lytle’s favorite!) and tshirts with clever, pop-culture sayings (“Do WORK, ACU”).
This year’s list of products reads very similar: tshirts, tank tops, Nike tempo shorts with ACU embroidered on the leg, iphone covers, and bracelets. Allison is a freshman marketing major, and her team is selling purple Nike tempo shorts with ACU embroidered on the leg. Allison says, ” We have pre-orders for 32 of 50 pairs of shorts that we need to sell. The typical reaction I’ve gotten when I mention the shorts is, ‘Oh, I’ve been wanting some of those!’. Since the campus store is unable to sell Nike products, ACU Nike shorts have been unavailable until now. Girls who already have Nike shorts are the ones who are buying them, because they’ve been looking for them for months or years and haven’t been able to find any. They then go home and tell their roommate how excited they are about finding the shorts and before we know it we have another order from someone we’ve never met”.
The other important component of the Venture Out project is the focus on philanthropy and giving back. 50% of the profits from each team will go back into the general COBA scholarship fund for future business majors. And the other 50% goes to a charity or cause of the group’s choice. Some examples of non-profit charities that have received donations from Venture Out teams are The American Cancer Society, Invisible Children, Eternal Threads and Make-A-Wish Foundation. Dr. Mark Phillips, professor of two of Intro to Business sections, says “the scholarship is about sustainability; the students’ work goes back into future students. The non-profit piece allows them to direct their giving to something they care passionately about; it not only gives them incentive to sell, it also starts them thinking about the role of business and profits in positively impacting the world.”
Venture Out also introduces our new business students (or undecided majors) the different roles within a sales team: the marketer, the accountant, the logistics manager, or the IS manager. At semester’s end, we hope the students have found a role or niche that they want to explore deeper, through classes, job shadowing, mentoring relationships or professional development experiences. And perhaps even ignite their passion for entrepreneurship. Allison says, “I’ve really enjoyed the project so far, because it has allowed me to work with my classmates to find a market niche and sell an exclusive product that is in very high demand. I’m learning that if you have the right product, entrepreneurship doesn’t seem like such a risk.”