It wasn’t discovered in a library or unearthed online. Rather, the roots of Stacie Metz’s final Executive MBA program project were found around her house while she was doing chores.
“It really started in my home” as do-it-yourself drywall work, Metz said. “We were doing this project and it was complicated. Family members were doing the same thing and nobody likes drywall.”
So she and a team of her fellow Executive MBA students from the Broad College’s Detroit campus came up with a concept for drywall solutions that will lessen messes, speed up work and save money. And that idea won the Class of 2019 Executive MBA Pitch Competition.
“We found a solution that can be really viable and something that others can benefit from,” Metz said. “It was a real-world problem. I had a teammate who had some chemistry knowledge and he was able to find something viable for us to create and use.”
The competition featured 21 student teams from the three Broad Executive MBA campuses in East Lansing, Detroit and Troy. The final pitch presentations took place March 2 but were the culmination of about two months of work and studies focused on entrepreneurship.
“Entrepreneurship as a concept is something that is emphasized at Michigan State,” said Greg Janicki, director of the Executive MBA program at the Broad College. “Within our Executive MBA program we wanted to provide an innovative and engaging opportunity for students to apply the learning and experience that they have gained in the program.”
“Their challenge was to ideate and conceptualize a business, product or service and develop a solid business model, revenue plan and go-to-market strategy,” Janicki said. “These are necessary skills in any organization, whether it’s a 10,000-employee corporation or a four-person small business. In today’s hyper-competitive environment organizations must constantly evaluate whether they are doing the right thing; responding to competitors; satisfying their customers.’”
Pitches included “a wide variety of very innovative, problem-solving pitches in areas like health care, nutrition, home repair, product and service ideas that leveraged technology,” Janicki said.
Metz said the work – which she shared with teammates Walter Collins, Robert Farhat, Jason Rashaad and Summit Sehgal – was worth the reward.
“I think after a very long two-year journey, seeing our team come together to create something of this extent, we probably didn’t think we could have done (it) six months ago, even,” Metz said. “The fact that we got this far as a team says a lot about our journey and our success.”
Madhu Posani, a Broad Executive MBA alum who served as one of the event’s first-round judges, said “I’m an engineer and I myself think I’m an innovative guy … but some of the ideas the students presented, I was flabbergasted. They were awesome.”
Posani, who is the co-founder of RIDE Technologies, said pitches included “things that I would never think of and things that I would love to use if I had the opportunity … they did a lot of homework.”
As for the winning pitch, don’t be surprised if it goes from class project to consumer staple someday. “I think that it’s something we would actually pursue,” Metz said.