At the culmination of the Broad College of Business’ Executive MBA program, students must hone their entrepreneurial skills to create a business idea. Across the program’s three format options — East Lansing, Troy and Flex — students develop and pitch their inspired ideas to peers, faculty, friends and family.
The style of the annual pitch competition mimics the show Shark Tank, where teams present their product or service idea, intended market and customer appeal, then walk through the financial case and potential return on investment, along with sharing prototypes of their products.
The winning idea at the Class of 2023 Pitch Competition on April 29 was called Hone.com, an online project marketplace to help undergraduate students gain real-world experience while also removing mundane tasks from middle managers’ plates.
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“Our research shows that 44% of undergrads reported getting hands-on experience would help them land their first jobs upon graduation,” Abigail Oberholtzer, a member of the winning team, said. “In addition, 71% of middle managers reported an interest in delegating repetitive tasks.”
Oberholtzer and her teammates Ryan Foley, Carlson Chia Ngong, Rodrigo Ricano Reed and Jennifer Gonzalez explained how Hone.com is different from traditional internships: It’s meant to offer short-term, project-based work that students can participate in while they’re earning their degrees to help them better land a job upon graduation.
“We’re hoping that the students can build relationships over time that could potentially lead to internships and even full-time jobs,” Foley said. “Hone.com will focus on both job placement and career readiness. We see it also expanding to mentorship and online learning programs.”
While many platforms exist to help students secure jobs — like Handshake, which is used at Michigan State — Hone.com’s competitive advantage is to offer opportunities across any industry and discipline.
“We focus on mentorship so students can differentiate themselves,” Oberholtzer said. “Even if you’re a supply chain major, you could take on a data entry project through Hone.com or a marketing project and grow skills in another area.”
Other finalists from the Class of 2023 included NextGen MBA, interactive programming for children of parents participating in an EMBA program, and Mix and Mingle, a one-of-a-kind mixology cocktail bar experience. Many of this year’s ideas were envisioned to address real-world challenges — like the Hive, an online platform that connects individuals facing significant medical situations with help, in an effort to calm the chaos of caregiving in times of need — which came to life because of EMBA student Colleen Stuart’s personal story.
“The Executive MBA experience at Broad is special because our students are both focused on learning and highly supportive of each other,” Cheri DeClercq, assistant dean for MBA programs, said. “Colleen’s family has faced huge challenges this year, and her team rallied to support her through it all so she was able to continue with the program. The Hive concept is a great example of teammates coming together, showcasing the spirit, compassion and strength of our students.”
As our famed saying goes, Spartans Will. And for Broad Spartans, this means discovering the future of business by taking on challenges, finding creative solutions and collaborating every step of the way.