The undergraduate students in Jim Kitchen’s Fall Intro to Entrepreneurship course (BUSI 500) at UNC Kenan-Flagler may not remember everything about their assignments and lectures, but they will remember what they were able to accomplish together. In just four days, the class raised almost $13,000 and worked with the Make-a-Wish Foundation to grant a very special girl named Riley a trip to Disney World with her family.
How did they raise this kind of money, you might ask? Students teamed up with a classmate they didn’t know and were asked to come up with an idea. Each team was given only $40 in seed capital and over the next four days had to figure out how to make their venture profitable. The students came up with all kinds of ideas to make money in this impressively short amount of time: advising freshmen, selling photos of the Old Well at a fraternity cookout, selling t-shirts and bracelets outside Kenan Stadium on gameday, providing taxi services for students, and delivering groceries. Sophomore Daniel Newton (BSBA ’15) learned several important entrepreneurship lessons from this unique exercise. “Execution is more important than ideation. You can think of the greatest ideas in the world but if you never sell/offer them to clients they are worthless. Furthermore, some have a false perception about the business school that it’s full of people who are solely pursuing their own material success. This project showed otherwise and that business can be a powerful tool for making a positive social impact.”
Professor Kitchen developed this project (coined ‘Ready, Fire, Aim’) for his class on the premise that students would learn much more from ‘launching and learning’ than reading books about entrepreneurship. This project was a highly compressed exercise in ideation, feasibility, lean principles, implementation planning, branding, finance and execution strategies. While the emphasis of the project was to teach the students how to create profitable ventures, all profits were donated to Riley – a six year old girl suffering from a rare form of cancer – to Disney World through the Make a Wish Foundation.
The students even had the opportunity to meet Riley at the end of the semester and learn about their family trip. As Jim Kitchen recounted, “It was a very emotional scene when the parents expressed their gratitude toward the students making Riley’s wish come true and how much it meant for her to meet Minnie Mouse.” In addition to this project, Professor Kitchen’s course consisted of content on venture pitch development, marketing for startups, legal issues faced by entrepreneurs, and life as a founder. As sophomore Chris Jones relayed (BSBA ’15), “Jim’s class taught us that entrepreneurs are capable of so much good. Whether it be selling a product or service that helps make lives easier or more fulfilling, entrepreneurship is an empowering mindset and occupation.”
Re-posted from this article, by Carrie Harbison, UNC Business School