From innovative restaurant concepts for Las Vegas, to books that discourage domestic violence, to professional masseuses that travel to you, Regent University Master of Business Administration (MBA) students capstoned their educations by taking their business plans public.
“We call it the elevator speech,” said Dr. Greg Stone, professor in the School of Business & Leadership (SBL). “What can you do in that 20 to 30 seconds you have to talk to somebody and tell them everything they need to know about your idea and get them enthused with it, so by the time the elevator gets to the 12th floor, they get off, want to know more and want to have lunch with you.”
These elevator speeches gave guests a five-minute look into a master’s degree-worth of work. Audience members assumed the roles of bankers, investors or customers, and questioned students about their concepts for new products, services or new organizations.
“As the classes continued, I was building on it, and that’s what they advise you here,” said Vanja Bule ’16 (SBL). “You come up with a business idea, and you take it through the MBA program, so by the time you come to this class, Business Launch, you have your idea really sorted out and ready to go.”
Bule’s business had its beginnings in her home country of Croatia. She’d like to attract tourists to travel from the United States to Croatia where she’d offer them a customized vacation from a back-door perspective. She has a background in theology and says Regent’s MBA program taught her a new language of business. By the end of her presentation, she had guests signing up for more information.
“When I came here, I missed the area, and I realized, as I talked about it, people really wanted to visit,” said Bule. “One of my friends from the MBA class said, ‘You know what? You should make your business about it! You’re so good at presenting, I want to go there now.’ That’s how the idea started.”
“What we saw here tonight were students coming up with new ways of funding, new ways of thinking, new ways of offering a product, new ways of coming at a service to fill a niche where nobody’s doing it that way,” said Stone. “It’s neat to see that creativity gain some traction with the students and see that as something they can actually do.”
Regent has been running student business plan presentations for nearly 20 years. Some students have started up their plans, and some have even done this before graduating. The CBN ministry Orphans Promise, for instance, got its start in the Business Launch class. Other students have gone on to use the business building experience to improve existing businesses or advance their careers.
“This program doesn’t require you to become an entrepreneur,” said Stone. “It helps you explore that world, take your ideas and evaluate them. It helps you look at what is possible to do and figure out if there’s a market for it, and you can make the decision, or seek God’s direction, and make the decision whether to pursue that or not.”
Students will now consider feedback from their audience to determine whether their ideas are marketable.