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Waukesha County Technical College

WCTC Business Plan Pitch Competition Inspires Student Entrepreneurs

Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), located in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, provides “Hands-On Higher Ed,” offering more than 150 areas of study in four schools: School of Business, School of Health, School of Protective & Human Services, and School of Applied Technologies. WCTC is also a MOBI partner, using the Starting a Business course curriculum to complement its Entrepreneurship program. In this program, WCTC provides a unique real-world entrepreneurial experience, inspired by the hit ABC show Shark Tank, to prepare students for business ownership.

How it Got Started: The first instructor to use the MOBI curriculum as part of WCTC’s Entrepreneurship program added presentations to the end of the course, giving students an opportunity to present their business plans to the class as if to a room of investors. These presentations motivated students to do their best work and make sure their business plans had all the bases covered. Mike Previte, Entrepreneur Instructor who now teaches the course, included a few additional twists.

Mike developed a rubric for grading the presentations, created a series of business questions, and invited faculty and staff to volunteer as judges, known as “sharks” on the popular TV series. With the rubric in place and a panel of judges, the presentations now form a pitch competition where a winner is decided.

How it is Implemented in the Course: The very first day of class students are asked to start thinking about a business idea. The course content for that day is the first session of MOBI’s Starting a Business course: “Deciding on a Business.”

Students then proceed to read and complete the following MOBI sessions before the next class, when they are asked to announce their business ideas. At this point they can decide if they would like to partner up or proceed as individuals.

The ABC Shark Tank-inspired competition is the second part of the process. The first part comprises completing and writing a business plan throughout the first 13 weeks of class. Students turn in parts of the business plan as they go so that Mike is able to monitor and guide their progress.

How the Contest is Run: During the final three weeks of class students focus on creating their presentations. They are instructed to give a live presentation of their business plan in a creative, dynamic, and passionate format with the objective of “gaining funding.” Presentations are 15 minutes including the pitch and a brief Q&A with the panel. A winner is decided based upon the rubric and input from the faculty and staff. Students who go above and beyond also gain points toward their class grade.

How the My Own Business Institute Helped: MOBI provides the core pieces that enable the students to think through all the parts of starting a business. The curriculum helps them put those thoughts on paper in an organized business plan. “Without MOBI, it would be an awful presentation,” says Mike Previte, Entrepreneur Instructor, Waukesha County Technical College. “In preparing for the competition and the panel of judges, students have to consider all the questions they might be asked, what is missing, what haven’t they thought of, and it’s a great real-world exercise. They come prepared and understand their business plans completely.”

The MOBI business plan format ensures all aspects of starting a business are included in the plans and presentations. Students connect most with costs, accounting, location, e-commerce, and marketing. Finances are the biggest part of the pitch since the objective of the exercise is to “gain funding.” Students connect with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and others for assistance with their financial planning. So through this simulation they are also learning real-world skills and making use of real-world resources. They receive valuable feedback from the judges during their presentations too.

What’s next for Mike Previte and WCTC? Inspiring more students to take their Hands-on Higher Ed to the next level of business ownership! Learn more about WCTC at https://www.wctc.edu/. To download the free MOBI Business Plan Template, click here.

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