E-town business students present before investors network
When four groups of entrepreneurship students presented final projects to an invited panel of investors and entrepreneurs last semester, those present thought it wouldn’t lead to more than a final grade. The ‘Shark Tank’ style final, however, provided some of the teams with even larger real-world learning experiences.
Following the presentations, the top two teams were invited to present to Lancaster Angel Network (LAN). “The investors were impressed [by] the stories behind the products, their level of search and their proficiency,” said Petru Sandu, associate professor of entrepreneurship and management. “I’m very proud.”
Both teams were led by senior engineering majors. This, said Sandu, shows the students’ level of motivation and commitment, because both team leaders are fulfilling the requirements of the Family Business and Entrepreneurship minor during their last two semesters at the College.
… every time you think you’ve got it right, you realize there’s a better way.”
“Since I came to the College, I always opened the entrepreneurship class to other majors because entrepreneurship is not something that should be kept within the business world,” said Sandu. “It’s campuswide.” At this time, the newly established minor has attracted students from the engineering, occupational therapy and philosophy. Sandu expects the entrepreneurship minor to spread to other majors.
Michael Twist, leader of the first team to present before LAN, knew he wanted to start a business after college. He pursued the minor following a conversation with Sandu, “[Petru Sandu] helped me realize that it would help me to get to where I want to be in life,” Twist said.
In high school, Twist became interested in analyzing the form of runners in order to help people run properly without injury. He continued working on discovering a way to do so while at E-town. The product Twist and his team created is a wearable 3-D motion capture system. It shows the presence of body weaknesses and allows coaches and doctors to see the same data.
“Typically you need to be a little more established than we are [to present before LAN],” Twist said. “We just thought: This is our first presentation. This is practice.”
Following the presentation, according to Sandu, the students were promised support and mentorship. “It worked out much better than we had anticipated,” Twist said. “I couldn’t have done it without the group there.”
Kevin Gorenberg’s team of nine is split in two: five engineers; five in business. Gorenberg works on both sides and likens it to a part-time job. “It’s amazing how much time it takes to do this stuff, and every time you think you’ve got it right, you realize there’s a better way,” he said. “It’s so much more than I ever expected it to be.”
Recently, the team shared the research with a podiatrist from professional sports teams in Philadelphia, Twist said. He wore a virtual reality headset that allowed him to see a runner in 3D and from from several vantage points.
Gorenberg and his team took over a product created by 2016 graduates Buck Kauffman, David Good and Jake Evans to help patients with cerebral palsy. Gorenberg continued to work with the product in entrepreneurship classes creating a business plan and business model. With his team, he has made adjustments to the original product in order to make it more reliable.
Gorenberg thinks the interdisciplinary aspect of the project and the major is significant. The team works together to achieve a common goal, as is true with actual businesses. The same is true of the College. “[E-town is] a liberal arts college. How am I relating history to engineering? I can connect previous engineering to current engineering and see how it changed. How am I connecting art to engineering? Well drawing [is a part of] engineering.” Gorenberg said. While Evans, Good and Kauffman graduated and are no longer actively involved in the project, Gorenberg keeps them informed of any changes, updates or developments.
Even if the project goes no further, Gorenberg said he is grateful for the opportunities it provides. “I can learn now and make mistakes when it’s for a grade as opposed to making mistakes when there’s a million dollars at stake,” he said. “It’s a learning experience that will help me in the future to make fewer mistakes, or make better mistakes.”
Both teams are in the process of submitting their business plans to e-Fest, an undergraduate business plan competition sponsored by Richard Schulze, founder of Best Buy Inc.