Business Students Get Hands-On With Competition
April 28, 2016
In addition to the victorious entrepreneurs, this year’s San Angelo Business Plan Competition was also a winning experience for the 10 Angelo State University business students involved as advisors.
“The students got an exceptional academic experience with real-world opportunities,” said their instructor, Vincent Mangano of ASU’s Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
Originally launched by ASU’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in 2004, the competition was re-established for 2016 in partnership with the city of San Angelo’s Development Corporation (COSADC) Business Factory. The goal was for entrepreneurs to develop viable business plans that will be used to create new ventures in San Angelo.
The ASU College of Business got involved in the competition through a course for upper-division business students. They first completed the SBDC’s series of business plan development seminars and then were assigned to specific competition semifinalists, working alongside the SBDC professional advisors to help the competitors bring their ideas to fruition.
“We got professional experience, meeting with the SBDC advisors, meeting with the client. We learned how to carry ourselves more professionally.”
“I was surprised the most by how open our clients were to our ideas,” said Kayla Johnson, a senior from Abilene. “The SBDC advisors, too, were very open to listening to our opinions. As marketing majors, we learn elements such as how to target a market, where to place a product and how to advertise online. I got to do all this for the client I was assigned.”
“We got professional experience, meeting with the SBDC advisors, meeting with the client,” she added. “We learned how to carry ourselves more professionally.”
Mangano, who earned his MBA at ASU and worked for decades in business before returning to teach, is a big proponent of the hands-on aspect of his students participating in the Business Plan Competition.
“Experiential learning is rapidly becoming a standard feature of many business school programs these days,” he said, “including such activities as internships, mentoring programs and real-world projects like this competition. This class also gave me the opportunity to share my career with my students.”
The entrepreneurs in the Business Plan Competition submitted a pre-entry form and business overview in February. Semifinalists had the opportunity work with the ASU business students and SBDC advisors to complete draft business plans, with their final business plans due in April.
“Professor Mangano had us read their business plans in teams,” said Heather Yates, a senior from Dallas. “When we got the results from the judges, it was almost exactly the same things we had suggested. That was really surprising and really cool.”
Johnson added that it helped having such a small class.
“We could bring up an issue with our clients and ask for suggestions,” she said. “We might not have been as comfortable doing that in a larger group.”
Working on the competition also helped the ASU students learn more about resources available in San Angelo for future entrepreneurs, such as Christian Garcia, a junior from San Angelo who is double majoring in accounting and finance.
“It’s something you don’t usually participate in while an undergraduate,” he said. “I will be back and I will be talking to the SBDC eventually.”
Mangano added, “I consider it a very successful class, and it wouldn’t have happened without the support of College of Business Dean Clifton Jones, ASU’s Small Business Development Center and the city’s Business Factory.”