Businesspeople in the making

September 9th, 2010

The John Carroll Entrepreneurship team took second place at the fourth annual Entrepreneurship Immersion Week (EIW), held at Baldwin-Wallace College Aug. 8-13. The team won $2,000 for their product idea Menu 2.0.

Participants included seniors Paul Merrill, Maria Perossa, Rosario Scibona III; junior Jeanniece Jackson; and Ashland University student Corey Barnett. Mark Hauserman, director of the Muldoon Center for Entrepreneurship, and economics professor John Soper, who pushed for an entrepreneurship minor to be available at John Carroll University, coached the team.

“We chose top students to represent John Carroll, but they’re also representing themselves,” Hauserman said. “It gives them a chance to spread their wings.”

EIW is a weeklong immersion into the study of entrepreneurship, put on by the Entrepreneurship Education Consortium. EEC works to provide students with education about entrepreneurship and allows them to express their ideas with hands-on experience. The schools involved include: University of Akron, Ashland University, Baldwin-Wallace College, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, John Carroll University, Kent State University and Lake Erie College. John Carroll founded the EEC.

Scibona said that the week was fast-paced with learning and working.

“During the week we started off doing some team building exercises and activities,” said Scibona. “We also listened to some keynote speakers throughout the week. They were different people from the community who run their own business and are successful in certain areas.”

Hauserman said the lessons and classes taught at EIW were invaluable because the top teachers from different schools were leading the seminars.

“They got the best of different faculty from each school and their specialty,” he said.

Perossa said the week was strenuous and long hours, but would agree.

“It was a very beneficial experience,” she said. “It was a great way to make connections.”

The week ended with each team presenting a product idea to a panel of judges. The presentation had to cover marketing, management, finances, and a target market.

Going into the week, each group member came equipped with a few ideas for a business venture, however, once the week started the group went in a new direction.

“Everything happened during that week,” Scibona said. “None of the ideas we came in with were used.”

Instead, Menu 2.0 was a collaborative effort at the Indians game.

“Someone in the group said something, and someone else added this,” he said.

The idea didn’t come out of the blue, earlier in the week every group was asked to create a bother list, a list of things that bother an individual. From that list ideas were generated to help provide solutions for the problems.

“[The brainstorm went from] ‘how can we get our food faster?’ to ‘what if you could change your order or click on an ‘add healthy options’ button?’” Perossa said.

The JCU team’s idea, Menu 2.0, uses an iPad to replace menus at restaurants. The iPad would allow for customers to directly place their orders, increasing efficiency. With the iPad technology, the team said they could add a healthy options menu or dietary restrictions area. Customers could also use the iPad to play games or read the local newspaper while they waited for their food.

Hauserman said he and members of the John Carroll Entrepreneurs Association were impressed with the idea.

“It’s a really good idea,” he said.

Hauserman assures the Entrepreneurs Association will be involved to help the students in their future plans for Menu 2.0.

Two people approached the group after the presentation, inquiring about the business. One man prints paper menus and another works with Apple applications, said Scibona. The group is set to meet this evening to set dates to possibly meet with these business partners.

Perossa said that the EIW cemented her feelings of opening up a business of her own.

“I have some product ideas,” she said. “I’d like to open my own business; I have hopes and dreams of that in the future.”