The University’s Pompea Business Plan EXPO was the culminating event 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. She and her roommate developed the concept of ConnectUs, a company that would help people suffering from loneliness and depression during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Since patients in care facilities were unable to receive physical visits, she and her classmates developed a way for patients to visit loved ones. Guests donned see-through hazmat suits, took chemical showers and traveled through a system of tunnels connecting the parking lot and secure meeting rooms. Fiorianti and his classmates recently pitched their idea at the university’s Pompea Business Plan EXPO.
“My favorite part of EXPO was doing something outside of my field of study and expressing something that I’m really passionate about,” said Fiorianti, a psychology student. “I learned a lot about the business world and how it works. I also learned about finances and how to run a business.
“A truly transformative learning experience”
Fiorianti’s team was one of six to participate in the final pitch competition, the culminating event of “Business and Entrepreneurship”, a class for students from all majors to work together to, this semester, design a innovative solution to address 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 pitched their business plans to a panel of judges that included Pompea College of Business Advisory Board members Craig Douglas ’82 MBA and Jim Betzig as well as Advisory Board Chair Josephine Moran ’01 MS, ’19 EMBA, member of the university board. Governors.
The students also introduced their fellow students, as well as alumni, faculty, and staff – including University of New Haven President Steven H. Kaplan, Ph.D.
“This program provides a truly transformational learning experience for our students,” he said. “Having the opportunity, as freshmen, to not only create – but also present – a business plan to a panel of executives is quite unique and something that students should be very proud of. . I know the skills they learned will serve them well throughout their careers as Chargers and wherever their careers take them in the future.
Giliana Santaniello ’24 and her teammates came up with “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 present information accurately.”
“You are all winners”
Held via Zoom, the competition included an “audience selection” element, via an app provided by Nousium LLC (dba Funding Founding).
Brian Marks, JD, Ph.D., course coordinator and senior 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 allow students to evaluate throws separately from judges. Audience members had 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 public and the judges agreed on the top two teams, which Marks says is a testament to the training given to the students in class.
Quid Pro Grow, a company that reportedly aims to reduce food waste by offering a pick-up service for composting, received the highest funding and was declared a crowd favourite. The H2O team, which would meet the need for clean water in Ethiopia, was the team that 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 lobby.
Charles Pompea ’71, ’90 EMBA, ’06 Hon., who along with his wife Tamera sponsored the program, watched the student presentations and announced the winner. He told the students that 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.