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.
The importance of nurturing entrepreneurs was the topic of the keynote address at the annual entrepreneurship dinner April 9, given by Barbara Hayde ’64, president of the Entrepreneurs Center.
“Being nurtured empowers you because it allows you to take risks because you have a safety net,” said Hayde. The nurturing Dani DeTrude ’13 has received from her experiences at UD empowered her to take on the University of Dayton Business Plan Competition and place third out of a record-high 114 entries from 240 participants. DeTrude teamed up with local businessman Russ Gottesman to present MyEndoShop, “a platform where consumers can endorse, or “endo,” their favorite products and share them with friends. It combines both social media and e-commerce in a new and compelling way,” explained DeTrude.
DeTrude, a MKT and ENT double major, presented the senior reflections at the dinner. She spoke of many ways in which UD has nurtured her throughout the years. Her experience with the business plan competition was one such example. “Introspectively, I realized that I am a capable, young, professional woman who can take on the challenges of assisting in a new venture and presenting its business model.” DeTrude and her team earned $10,000 in prize money and have the opportunity to present to the Connor Seed Fund.
Hayde asked two things of all the entrepreneurs present, students and seasoned business professionals: to give help and to get help. “You must never stop doing that for each other,” said Hayde. She said without nurturing, entrepreneurs face failure. “You can still fail forward,” she said, but with nurturing, that safety net is there. “Nurturing can provide a way ahead when times are tough.”
UD’s annual RISE Forum is about more than CEOs discussing the stock market and economic recovery on stage in UD Arena. It’s about the students who got them there.
The 60-plus students in the Davis Center for Portfolio Management started planning for RISE 13 half a year before the three-day event, April 4-6. Sam Girouard ’14, a finance and marketing major, started making calls to schools, sponsors and panelists to pitch RISE back in November. He helped with the physical set up in the arena, hotels and on campus beginning two days before attendees arrived, and will reverse the process upon RISE’s conclusion.
“My favorite part of RISE is the team aspect of putting it all together and seeing it in motion,” said Girouard on the first day of RISE 13. “We were all so excited this morning.”
When Giorouard isn’t behind the scenes helping the event run smoothly, he’s enjoying the panels; he appreciates the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into applied finances, learning from people who work in the industry and see the market change every day. “Classes are great, you learn a lot, but getting their [panelists’] experience passed down to you is priceless.”
RISE 13 panelists included professionals from BlackRock, Barclays, Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. and many more. “Hearing something a Federal Bank president has to say is not something you ever get to hear — and we had two,” said Girouard. “Hearing from top financial minds is a treat.”
Campus to Career – Bridging the Gap was held Tuesday, Mar. 12. The event, hosted by Career Services, provided resources to female students to help prepare for the transition from life as a collegiate to life as a professional.
Katy Utter ’14 attended the conference because she thought it sounded like a fun way to network and learn more about the professional world. “I am a marketing and entrepreneurship student and plan on getting a job in social media marketing after I graduate,” said Utter. “I think that this event helped me expand my network and my knowledge about using social media in a professional and personal setting.”
After speed networking, breakout sessions and a keynote address from Krista Neher about the importance of personal branding on social media, a panel of four young professionals addressed the undergraduates. Sara Dorn ’12 was one of two UD grads on the panel. Dorn gave advice to current students about the process of relocating for a job, which she has done twice since graduating, and the responsibilities that come with a job. “In college, if you miss a class or don’t do your homework, you will feel the consequences, but in a job, slacking off affects a lot of other people, too,” said Dorn.
Campus to Career was a success for Utter and Dorn; along with gaining applicable advice to use in the workforce, Utter also won a Kindle Fire in the raffle held at the end of the night. Dorn was glad she was able to help UD students feel prepared to leave campus and take on a career. “Being an alum and giving advice to current students was really rewarding,” she said. “Considering I obsessed over my career during my senior year, I know what a scary, exciting time it can be.”
Women in the School of Business have a new resource in development this semester: student-run organization Women in Business.
“The University of Dayton Women in Business organization is beneficial to UD”s campus because it provides women with the resources to land a job that they are passionate about and will therefore allow them to truly succeed personally and professionally,” said co-founder Bridget Liddell ’14.
Liddell and Rachel Kilbury “14 are excited to bring this organization to campus. Kilbury was inspired at the Winning Women conference she attended in New York City last fall. Other students attending the conference had Women in Business clubs at their schools. “I thought it would be really valuable to bring back to Dayton,” Kilbury said. “There are great opportunities to offer to all women in the business school.”
Kilbury and Liddell want to get as many women in the SBA involved as possible. Though seniors are graduating in two months, they can leave their legacy by offering experience and advice to the underclassmen. The co-founders want women in every business major involved in running the club. Dede Ferry “15 is in charge of finances for WIB and Kilbury says Ferry will contribute to the sustainability of the club, leading after Kilbury and Liddell graduate.
WIB plans to help female business students by bringing in speakers and having workshops on technical skills, resume building, interviewing practices and more. Kilbury said, “The biggest emphasis is that we want to help women in the business school find what they’re passionate about and help them get there.”
There is a lot to be learned in a classroom. There’s a lot to be learned outside of one, too.
Walk the Talk, an event that brings the two worlds together, is in its 14th year of connecting business students with professionals to discuss issues companies regularly face. Brother Victor M. Forlani, SBA Marianist in Residence and host of the event says it allows students to “get perspective of what it’s like on the ground.”
“When you teach courses you’re way up here with theory,” said Forlani. “But when you’re in a dilemma, you don’t have time to go review Aristotle. You have to have instinct.” The catered luncheons take place in the Miriam atrium about seven times each semester. Local businesspeople, typically from the Dayton Rotary Club, sit one or two to a table with junior and senior business majors. A case study depicting a practical business dilemma is discussed around the table and recommendations are shared with the room of 35-40 students.
The cases are typically written by the School of Business Administration and attempt to stay abreast of current events and issues in the business world. “The idea is to bring everything together that you’ve learned and apply it,” said Forlani. “Students have visions of him or herself in that situation.”
An ancillary benefit to the discussion of realistic situations is networking with local professionals. Students get experience interacting with businesspeople and could pick up interview tips or even a job lead. Walk the Talk is more than a classroom experience; and yes, professional dress is required.