Entrepreneurship Students Learn by Living It

February 2016

For students in Tim Holcomb, Cintas Chair in Entrepreneurship’s ESP 401 “New Ventures” class, the process of starting an entrepreneurial enterprise goes beyond the theoretical. Small student teams in this capstone offering learn firsthand about the venture creation process within an entrepreneurial ecosystem by starting their own businesses. They are taught how to assess the broad variety of issues surrounding new venture creation, including how to recognize and assess an opportunity, the process and steps in starting a new venture, the financials of the new business, determining and acquiring resource needs, marketing requirements, deal structure and exit strategy, technology issues, legal and ethical issues and creating a written business plan in support of the new venture. But that’s just the foundation. Teams build a detailed business model, launch plan, and financial projections which they “pitch” to a panel of venture capital and angel investors and successful entrepreneurs, many of them Miami alumni.

Last semester, the students again amazed the judges with their presentations and plans in the Startup Business Pitch Competition. In the end, the judges gave a strong “Paws up” to the team of Greg Bedigian, Danny Bressler, Annie Lemenager and Kevin Snider and “Waggmore”.

Waggmore is an integrated wireless product for pets that allows pet owners to dynamically construct virtual boundaries for their pets using Google Maps and GPS technology embedded in the collar and that also allow those same owners to track their pets’ activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep. In doing so, Waggmore takes a disruptive approach to a key element of the more than $4.4 Billion residential fence industry that is driven by pet concerns by eliminating the need for wood, wire, metal, and or “invisible” fencing.

Judges and students agree that this class is one of the things that makes the Farmer School and Miami University exceptional. Jeffrey Lioon, senior finance major and entrepreneurship minor, noted, “Thank you for a great semester and for pushing us extra hard, even at times when we had a lot of other things going on. This was truly one of the most rewarding classes that I have taken at Miami and has given me a sense of all the things that need to be done and taken into consideration when putting together a business idea and pitch. This was by far my favorite class in FSB and I will take what I have learned from this course and apply it throughout the rest of my life.”

Judge and Miami alum, Jim Ryan, Chairman, President and CEO of W.W. Grainger, Inc. added, “On full display at Startup Business Idea Pitch Competition were well organized and well delivered presentations, innovative ideas, operating models to make those ideas work and great teamwork.”

Waggmore presentation team Entrepreneurship class members