FSB consulting club helping real-world businesses

April 2018

Jay Murdock

For Russ Howell, a 1990 Miami graduate, inspiration came during a frustrating ride home from a softball clinic with a group of 12-year-olds.

“They hadn’t really understood what we were trying to teach them. I was trying to reiterate in the car, but I wasn’t getting any feedback,” he said. “They were ignoring me because they all had smartphones. That was where the idea came from.”

The idea was for an app, BASIQs, that would let softball and baseball players play a different game, where they would be given various possible defensive play situations and have to choose the correct one.

“We ask them ‘From the perspective of what position?’, and they pick one of the positions, get 10 questions, multiple choice. They can challenge friends, replay from a different position,” Howell said.

After a year-and-a-half of writing 7,000 different situations for this self-described labor of love, Howell sought some venture funding from a program at Miami aimed at alumni. He soon found out that he didn’t meet the qualifications.

“Somewhere in that conversation, the person said, ‘But there’s also Miami Business Consulting.’ So I got connected to the young folks who were running that organization,” Howell explained.

Miami Business Consulting is a student-run organization designed to give those interested in consulting a taste of the real thing.

“We work with real clients, about four to five clients a semester,” group president and junior supply chain management and information systems major Jacob Braun explained. “All the members get split up on the project teams, and they spend an entire semester working on the project with the end goal of presenting, to the the other members of the organization and to the client, to try to advance some sort of business goal for the client.”

Junior finance and accounting major Collin Mueller heads up the team working with Howell.

“We’ve been able to feed him some ideas, he’s been able to get back with us with what he wants. A recent phone call was huge for us,” Mueller remarked. “I’ve got four or five pages of notes that we’re going to debrief on and figure out what we can do the rest of the semester.”

“They told me about some of the things they’ve been doing for me, a little bit of market research and a little bit product development and product marketing,” Russell said. “Great group of young folks.”

Junior supply chain management major Corey Huddleston feels any business student can get something out of the group, not just future consultants.

“We can't stress enough that you don't just have to be interested in consulting. The beauty of it is, when you're taking the Farmer core, you develop basic accounting, basic economics, basic supply chain skills, all these things,” he said. “More than any other experience I've had, all those skills come together for this club and I've got to apply them.”

“What we really want is people who want to apply what they’re learning, who are really engaged and want to find a community of people who share their academic interests and advance business goals,” Braun said.

“When you actually get to see it, and see ‘Oh, these are those equations and principles that we’re learning about,’ and it actually matters, that really hits it home,” Huddleston said.

Ultimately, the experience is designed to benefit everyone involved.

“I think that’s what’s really so great about this organization is that we get our members very involved, very hands-on compared to what you do in a class project,” Braun noted. “We ask a lot of our members and they deliver very well, so it's great to see what we can accomplish in just one semester of work with a client.”

Club members talking via conference call with client