The University’s Pompea Business Plan EXPO was the culmination of an innovative course that brings together students from all disciplines to develop solutions to real world problems, create business plans and present their ideas to a panel of judges.
January 8, 2021
Ashley Fiorianti ’24 wanted to create something positive during what has been a difficult and stressful time for so many people. She and her roommate developed the concept of ConnectUs, a business that would help people suffering from loneliness and depression during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Since patients in healthcare facilities were unable to receive physical visits, she and her classmates developed a way for patients to visit loved ones. Guests would don transparent hazardous material suits, take chemical showers, and walk through a system of tunnels connecting the parking lot and secure meeting rooms. Fiorianti and his classmates recently presented their idea at the university’s Pompea Business Plan EXPO.
“My favorite part of EXPO has been doing something outside of my field of study and expressing something that really excites me,” said Fiorianti, a psychology graduate. “I learned a lot about the business world and how it works. I also learned about finances and running a business.
“A truly transformational learning experience”
The Fiorianti team was one of six people who entered the final pitch competition, the culminating event of ‘Business and Entrepreneurship’, a class for students from all disciplines to work together to, this semester, design an innovative solution to meet a real world challenge related to water, energy, food and / or COVID-19. They collaborated to create a business plan, developing skills such as leadership and group presentation.
The teams were selected from a dozen semi-finalist teams representing the 140 students from the nine sections of the class. They presented their business plans to a panel of judges including members of the Pompea College of Business Advisory Board, Craig Douglas ’82 MBA and Jim Betzig, as well as Advisory Board Chair Josephine Moran ’01 MS, ’19 EMBA , member of the Board of Governors University.
The students also presented to their fellow students, as well as alumni, faculty and staff, including New Haven University President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D.
“This program provides a truly transformational learning experience for our students,” he said. “Having the opportunity, as freshmen, not only to create – but also to present – a business plan to a panel of executives is very unique and the students should be very proud of. I know the skills they have learned will serve them well throughout their tenure as Chargers and wherever their careers take them in the future. “
Giliana Santaniello ’24 and her teammates proposed “Allied Collaboration Marketing”, a marketing company serving small businesses. She said it was a fun and engaging learning experience.
“I liked being able to think of a business idea and develop the details with my teammates,” she said. “This experience exposed us to a professional environment in which we learned to adapt and think quickly to answer questions and accurately present information.
“You are all winners”
Detained via Zoom, the competition included a “crowd selection” component, via an application provided by Nousium LLC (dba Funding Founding).
Brian Marks, JD, Ph.D., course coordinator and lecturer in the Department of Economics and Business Analysis as well as executive director of the university’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation program, noted that the app is designed to foster audience engagement and allows students to rate locations separately from judges. Spectators were to imagine that they were given $ 100,000 to allocate to the various locations, which were then ranked according to the amount of funds allocated to them. This year, the student audience and the judges agreed on the top two teams, which Marks says is a testament to the training the students have under way.
“Quid Pro Grow,” a company that reportedly aims to reduce food waste by offering a composting collection service, received the highest funding and was declared a public favorite. The H2O team, which would meet Ethiopia’s need for clean water, was the team the judges declared the winner. The winning team selected by the judges will have their name engraved on the Pompea Business Plan EXPO Cup displayed in the Orange Campus hall.
Charles Pompea ’71, ’90 EMBA, ’06 Hon., Who along with his wife Tamera sponsored the program, watched student presentations and announced the winner. He told the students he was impressed with their work.
“You are all winners,” said Pompea, chairman of the university’s board of governors. “You should be very proud of the work you have done. I am very proud to be here with you.