University of Dayton alumnus Zach McHale won first place and $25,000 for his stadium seat device in the University of Dayton’s 11th annual Flyer Pitch competition, one of the largest collegiate-level business plan contests in the country.
McHale’s patent-pending Neet Seat is a pouch that can be attached to stadium and arena seats to hold coats and other items. McHale, a 2006 graduate who studied chemical engineering, was announced as the winner during a banquet Tuesday night after six rounds of multi-national competition featuring more than 200 teams.
On March 25, teams had 20 minutes each to pitch business ideas to a table of judges, followed by 10 minutes of questions. The judges included business advisors, investors and others involved in Dayton’s start-up ecosystem.
“The quality of the teams has gotten better year after year,” said Vincent Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the University. “This year’s six finalists are all fundable business opportunities, with three of the finalists already having sold some products and one already having raised some capital. It is exciting through the course of the competition to see the teams develop ideas and transform them into viable opportunities.”
More than 200 teams applied to take part in Flyer Pitch, which took place in Dayton, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and Suzhou, China.
Since the competition began, 27 businesses have been launched, 20 of which are still in business today.
Second place, and $15,000, went to a former professional baseball player, Jim Ward, and his daughter, UD alumna Tiffany Pikas ’05, for their design of Hit-Grip — a patented device to help control and improve the swing of baseball players and golfers.
Third place went to a group of current UD students who developed the Solar Thermal Adsorption Refrigeration (S.T.A.R) system, an environmentally friendly refrigeration method designed for usage in areas without reliable power grids. The group was awarded $10,000.
“This is definitely the first step for us into the business world in a journey that I am sure is going to get more exciting,” said S.T.A.R. team member Claudia Labrador Rached. “I truly believe that S.T.A.R. can make an impact in the developing world, where vaccine access and health care quality are compromised by the lack of reliable supply of electricity.”
The remaining three teams tied for fourth place, winning $5,000 each.
UD students are provided with the B.E.S.S.T opportunities. During the January Intercession, Jan. 5-12, nine students attended the first Business Experience: Silicon Valley and San Francisco Today.
B.E.S.S.T. is a unique educational opportunity for business majors to visit corporations and major financial institutions across Silicon Valley and the Bay area.
Professors Irene Dickey and Tracy Miller, both full-time faculty in the School of Business, wanted UD students to experience the real-world issues facing their field, so they turned to former students and LinkedIn to rekindle and build new alumni connections.
Over 10 alumni opened the doors of their homes and offices to speak about their take on management and marketing to millennials. Students had the chance to visit global venture capital firm Canaan Partners, advertising software firm Sharethrough and tech firm Oracle, among other major businesses in the area.
“At all the companies we visited, they weren’t talking at us,” said junior marketing major Jamie Stumph. “Even the CEO’s were interested in hearing what we had to say.”
While in California the students immersed into the opportunity and wrote blog posts each day in reflection.
“I am leaving San Francisco today feeling inspired and motivated to go out and work to achieve all of the many goals I have,” Stumph wrote. “These people are proof that if you put your mind to something and really believe in yourself, amazing things will happen.”
Students also participated in five pre-trip and two post-trip class sessions in order to gain MGT and MKT 494 credit. They studied and presented on each company before the trip, allowing them to come prepared to ask questions and maximize the session benefit.
“Irene and I really pushed them out of their comfort zones,” Miller said. “But, I really found if you set student expectations high, they will rise to the challenge.”
To hear more about the students’ experiences, attend their Stander Symposium presentation on Wednesday, April 5 at 1 p.m. in Miriam Hall room 213.
Being a college athlete is by no means easy. Juggling 20 plus hours of practice per week, working towards a career, and managing a social life; many would say the possibility of free time, let alone traveling to another country for five weeks, is nonexistent. Not everyone is up for the task, but student athletes Zach Kavanaugh ’18 and Nathan Marotta ’18 showed it was possible.
Kavanaugh, a member of the UD soccer team, and Marotta, a football player, participated in the UD business in Spain program this summer.
It is rare for athletes to fit in time to study abroad, and not only did they make it happen, but they were praised by UD’s onsite coordinators for being engaged leaders on the program through their example and “go-to” attitudes.
“It was really difficult at first, trying to weigh the pros and cons of a five-week study abroad trip regarding its effects on my soccer career at Dayton,” Kavanaugh stated. “I was very hesitant to complete the application for studying abroad because the summer is typically a time where fall sport athletes are at their peak because they are training so hard. I came to the decision to study abroad because I realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Studying abroad isn’t about learning… it’s about experiencing. Spain forced me to step out of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be happier with my experience.”
Marotta shared his classmates enthusiasm for the cultural and educational experience. “I learned a lot about the culture of Spain and met a bunch of great people,” he said. “It was an eye-opening experience that showed me how people and businesses interact with each other in a different part of the world. I embraced their culture by trying new foods, dances, lifestyles, and visiting new cities. It turned out to be the best decision I made for this summer experience that I will never forget.”
Pat Glaser Shea grew up privileged. “I had a family that loved me and parents who valued education,” Shea explained.
The daughter of a steel worker in West Virginia, Shea has been the CEO of YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee, the largest provider of domestic violence services in the state, for 10 years and sees the absence of such privilege every day.
In 1984, the UD marketing graduate settled in Nashville, Tennessee, and began to volunteer at the YWCA, where she saw firsthand the effects of violence and abuse on women and girls. “When women and girls aren’t able to live up to their potential due to abuse, we all lose out,” said Shea.
After a 20-year career in health care, Shea now focuses on ending gender violence by locating root causes. “We have been missing 50 percent of the population, thus half of the equation,” said Shea. “It is time to involve men, to invite good men to be part of the solution.”
Shea has become an outspoken advocate for engaging men in the effort to end violence against women and girls. In March 2015, she gave the TEDxNashville talk, “Violence Against Women: The End Begins with Men.”
In her talk, Shea states there are three things everyone can do: know the facts and elevate the issue, as violence against women is an epidemic; work to change our culture that belittles and devalues women and girls; and teach boys that loving and respecting women and girls is part of healthy masculinity. Shea said, “When women are valued and safe, we are able to be better mothers, sisters, daughters and partners. Everybody benefits.”
Entrepreneurship major Jessica Kerr ‘16 is prepared. She’s finished her senior year studies, closed her term as SGA Vice President of Communications, and plans on taking her talents to FlyWheel, a startup accelerator in Cincinnati.
At FlyWheel, she will consult and help social entrepreneurs and nonprofits develop and realize their full potential. This may not sound like a typical entry level job, but this 22-year-old is well positioned to fly above her station. As the winner of the University of Dayton’s 10th Annual Business Plan Competition, Jess knows a few things about pitching plans and selling stories.
It took just five months for Jess to go from brainstorming business ideas with her roommate at Steak ‘n Shake, to working with attorneys to secure her idea, which has proven to be more successful than she ever first imagined.
Her winning plan is Aer (pronounced ‘air’)- a patent-pending device that will allow individuals with chronic lung diseases to self-monitor their lung function at home. The idea was inspired by her roommate who has cystic fibrosis, and her grandmother, who died of lung complications.
“My grandma had a really rare disease and had to go to the doctors every single week to test her lung function,” Jess said. “I’ve seen a lot of people dealing with this inconvenience.”
In her initial business plan pitch in October 2015, Jess cited that over 70,000 people suffer from cystic fibrosis. Her proposed device could save those patients from having to make over 15 hospital visits a year and could also save insurance companies and hospitals valuable time and money.
“When I thought of this device, I had no idea that people would like it so much, and then it just took off,” she said. “The School of Business put my pitch on YouTube and a ton of people saw it and started reaching out to me. People started getting behind the idea and the message and the awareness it could raise for lung diseases. People were already calling and asking where they could find one for their relatives or children.”
Before this plan took off, Jess felt that her entrepreneurship studies at the University had prepared her well. She had started a micro-business as part of her Sophomore Experience and had taken classes instructing her on how to pitch to investors and write business plans. She interned at Brandery, a startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs find funding. And as a part of her senior capstone, she began consulting local companies in Dayton. “All of that was very helpful,” she said. “I wasn’t going into this competition blindly.”
But once she proposed her plan and began receiving support, she learned the value of a story.
“People don’t necessarily want a beautifully engineered product. A lot of people had really great products but were so hard to understand,” she said. “You have to be able to have investors understand and believe in your cause. To be able to explain your product in a way that puts a personal connection in a story behind it … that’s so important.”
Jess said the next steps for Aer are somewhat vague at this point. A large portion of her prize money will go to her attorney and a patent process. She also won and will receive free training and consulting as a part of her prize from UD’s Fiore Talarico Center for Professional Selling and the School of Law’s Entrepreneurship and Intellectual Property Clinic.
“I’ve been approached by a lot of different people- investors, accelerators, and incubators who want to work on this with me,” she said.
Whatever comes next for Jess, she’s prepared to take the next step in her story.
While many students found themselves relaxing during the last two weeks of winter break, more than 50 students in the Schools of Engineering and Business were busy traveling and learning in China.
The business group traveled to Beijing, Shanghai, and Suzhou, home of the University of Dayton China Institute. Students who were part of the group took a class during the fall semester to help prepare for their experience.
“A key part of this class was identification of a corporate client that we would actually work with. Early on in the fall, we identified GE Aviation as our client,” said Terence Lau, an associate dean and professor in the School of Business.
The students who went on the trip met with executives from GE Aviation. They were given a project to brainstorm ideas to help GE Aviation grow business in China.
“In Suzhou, we were able to get to the meat of our project by spending three hours with GE executives at their plant. Students were able to tour the plant to see the three lines of products that are made at the plant,” Lau said.
In addition to the meeting, students were also able to speak with representatives from Black & Decker, Air China, and Ford, among others.
Now that the students have arrived back in the States, they are busy preparing for their presentations for GE Aviation which will take place in late February.
Mitch Tomlin ‘18 was one of the students who went on the trip, and his team is sorting through information to prepare for the presentations.
“We have to find something that they can improve on to get ready for the expansion of the middle class in China,” Tomlin said, noting that the airline industry will play a major role in this expansion.
The Chinese intercession is also serving as a springboard for a GE Aviation consulting project competition that kicked off this week and is open to all University of Dayton students. For more information on this business plan competition, visit go.udayton.edu/studyinchina or contact Terence Lau at email@example.com.
As a man of many roles — author, teacher, husband, father — MIS professor Don Quigley is about to embrace a new one.
“I will be just as active,” Quigley promises of his retirement. “I don’t feel old. I look at retiring as another chapter in my life, with new experiences, challenges and dreams. I think of it more as a sabbatical.”
As he closed out his last semester this fall, Quigley said he now plans to spend time traveling with his wife and crossing the last two items off of his bucket list: Learning to play piano and learning to paint.
“I’ve enjoyed the 16-plus years that I’ve have interacted with students,” he says of his time teaching at UD.
Prior to teaching, he worked at IBM, GE and Hitachi. For a time, he also worked as assistant dean of students at UD while simultaneously pursuing his MBA.
Although these years in the classroom have composed a large portion of his career, Quigley emphasizes he views this time from a student’s perspective.
“We’re only here for a short period of time in these young peoples’ lives, but we have an obligation to provide them with our very best; that we help them in whatever goals they set for themselves and give them an education that goes beyond subject matter.”
Now that Quigley has set his own goals, the UD community wishes him well in pursuing them.
Meeting a need and fulfilling a vision: This semester, a team of sophomores under the Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership was challenged by their Sophomore Experience course to identify a product to market and sell based on unfulfilled needs and wants in the University of Dayton community.
The class itself mandates the establishment of a business model in which students must brainstorm, source, fund, market, sell and manage the business independently.
The product they’ve set their sights on? Knitted UD crew socks.
“I thought of the increasing trend in crew socks over the past few years,” said Michael Keller, president of UD Crew Socks. “I ran with it, which ultimately led to me pitching the business idea to my class.”
His pitch was successful; when it came time to vote on projects pursued, it was the favorite. Classmates Andrew Hoffman, Matthew Markiewicz, Bridget Oleksy and Dillon Nino joined Keller on the crew socks team.
Overcoming setbacks is key in this program, just as in the real world.
“One of the biggest challenges we have faced is finding a good, reliable supplier. There are thousands of companies that make custom socks for low prices overseas, but that brings up a number of complicated factors, including shipping times, language barriers and quality concerns. Luckily, we found and are able to work with a supplier out of Columbus who has a great reputation.”
Oleksy, who heads the company’s marketing and promotion, highlights the value of this experiential education.
“This is an early opportunity to dive into the business world, one unparalleled by any other major program. I really believe in the value of this experience and the lessons it teaches us,” she said.
Profits first go in part towards a charity of the team’s choice, then into a scholarship fund, before the team ever makes a personal profit. The socks are available in two color schemes and can be purchased online at www.udcrewsocks.com. For more information, visit the team’s Facebook page.
It was at the end of his talk that his voice broke, the image in Peter McGrath’s mind still too raw to control.
“When I’m in Calcutta or Delhi or Lahore or Dhaka, and I see poverty come up to my car window, and it’s a 5-year-old girl in a dirty dress with her 2-year-old sister on her hip with no clothes on, and I look into her dark eyes and see despair, hopelessness, I have to tell you it’s the most frightening experience in the world.
“And we, as business people, have a responsibility to change that. The meaning of life is to give life meaning.”
McGrath ’72 shared lessons from his nearly 40-year career with J.C. Penney as the speaker for the 10th annual Business As a Calling lecture Nov. 14, presented by the School of Business Administration’s Center for the Integration of Faith and Work and the College of Arts and Sciences’ Jacob Program in Professional Ethics.
Many of his lessons were tailored to the budding business professionals in the Kennedy Union ballroom: Work hard. Never compromise your core values. Communicate effectively.
“You’re going to spend one-third of your life at work, so what you’re going to do to make a living, I hope you like,” he said.
He said he loves retail and developed a passion for working with designers and building brands. His work took him on a 10-million mile trek across the globe to visit factories, which is where he came face-to-face with such poverty.
His experiences led him to establish the Peter McGrath Human Rights Fellows Program at UD in 2012.
McGrath’s visit was about showcasing business as a vocation rather than just a series of jobs. “Each of the students, if they choose business, will have the opportunity to affect lives,” McGrath said.