I worked this semester at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, so after Halloween, I had to put the walk on hold for work purposes and the holiday season. One of the things I enjoy about being a college professor and teaching in the Business/Hotel Management School at Bergen Community College is watching the creativity of my students unfold. This is my third semester at the college and this particular class just stood out.
They went from what I saw as a somewhat shy group of students to a founding start-up group of ‘Techies”, when we presented our group project for our simulated start-up company, “Buscomonzefi.com” (Acronym for Business Communications 105). I was just trying to get the students to communicate with one another and boy did they! It was the first class I ever taught where everyone got an ‘A’ and truly deserved it!
I have to admit that I am not the easiest grader and after twelve years of college myself (Michigan State University, The Fashion Institute of Technology, The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University), I have seen my share of group projects but nothing like this. All I have to say is that if we as students had the technology at our finger tips that the kids do today, there is no telling what we could have accomplished.
I came up with the idea for a group project for the second half of our class and have to admit group projects at any grade is like gym class, you hate the idea of finding partners and then depending on them to do the work. The biggest problem with group projects is that there are some people that do all the work and others who just goof off and then get a grade. I wanted to prevent that this time.
I came up with the idea for Buscomonzefi.com when I was reading the trade journals on new companies and was annoyed that there were no CEO’s of new tech companies that were my age. I hate to tell all you young ‘techies’ this but Cisco, KLA Tencor, Microsoft, Oracle and the mother of them all, Google, were founded by people my age and older.
So I created a product that everyone would need, the Widget. Okay, you’re thinking “How to Succeed in Business without even Trying”, but I thought if Robert Morse could do it so could I. I also knew I wanted to something that would have the whole class engaged so I created my first tech company (hopefully not the last).
The famous scene from “How to Succeed in Business without trying Trying”
I made myself the CEO/Founder of Buscomonzefi.com and picked my executive team. I have to admit I did ‘pull some names out of a hat’ but I also wanted to challenge all of the students who I knew by their resumes and their class performance had a lot of talent but kept so quiet in class. I wanted to create open dialogue for the students plus I wanted to get students working with other students who they might not have chosen. I never saw a group of people blossom together so well. I was amazed that what I created was not a group project but a group of up and coming executives, who took control of a project and challenged themselves to their highest level.
We had only four weeks until the project was going to be presented and I knew the class was up for the challenge. All I gave them was the product itself and the fact that we had to present to the backers on the second to last day of class before the final exam.
I created an executive team, picked my President, Senior Vice-President and Vice-Presidents, Team Leaders and Team Members. I also picked my teams where I knew some of the people needed a boost because I saw in them what I didn’t think they saw in themselves. Some I just mixed the personalities. They as a class exceeded my expectations!
I also added that they would be grading one another, keeping journals, be graded on dress code and work performance. The final word was that if as their CEO I heard from the Executive Team that someone was not performing, I would get the team together for a discussion and the person could be ‘fired’ (meaning that they would fail the second part of the class). They all seemed to understand the grading system.
For the next four weeks, the class met on their own and created their divisions from the information that I gave them. I also told them if they took a one dimensional project and made it three dimensional, I would give them extra credit. As a class, they far exceeded it.
They renamed the product “Bwidge”, very creative and then developed how the product would look and then worked in their divisions to fulfill their departments structure. Each of the teams took their departments and created them form scratch. They were broken down into Sales & Marketing, Tech Talent & Customer Service/Legal, Product Development and Corporate Security. Each division had its Vice-President with a Manager/Team Leader with them with the team under them. I set the hierarchy up and made sure that the President and Senior Vice-President took control over their ‘teams’.
In class, we would have ’round table’ discussions that I had seen online with smaller tech firms and we asked the questions of each other of where we were out, who was doing what and how the teams were working with one another. I made the President and Senior Vice-President also find our new Corporate Headquarters with the stipulation that it must be near ‘Silicon Alley’ in lower Manhattan.
On December 18th, they made the presentation on Google Slides and the class ‘blew my mind’ with their excellence. I brought in the Corporate Benefits Head of Bayer Aspirin America, who I work with on the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association to be my question and answer person. Even he was ‘blown away’ with the thoroughness that the students researched.
The Tech Talent Division even established a Website, (Google “Buscomonzefi.com” to see their work), and Instagram site and a Facebook page. which by the time of the presentation already had four followers (how did they find this?). They had complete handbooks created, policies made and even had the Employee Bill of Rights established.
The Product Development team created, priced out and even had the prototype made of the product “Bwidge”, a computer product that organized all your online files on your computer, both on a MAC and a PC, a product that did not even exist (only for either one or the other but not for both). They used the above logo and produced the final product for presentation, plus all the cost and patent information.
The Sales & Marketing team really dazzled me with their ideas for a launch party on New Year’s Eve, ad campaign in Times Square and Silicon Valley and Wall Street, their commercial (which they actually filmed for YouTube!) and their cost structure (totally unrealistic but I only had a million dollars of capital to work with). They even sent an invitation to the Mayor of NYC!
The Company Logo
The presentation night everyone was dressed for a formal ‘tech’ presentation to ‘WASP’ bankers. I have to admit I have to work with the gentlemen on the concept of ties but overall everyone was dressed so professionally.
Let me put it this way, I have never been prouder of a group of students than this semester and it is my pleasure to put this online for all their hard work. Like I said, this is the first time I ever created a ‘tech’ company from scratch and it will not be my last.
To all my students who might be reading this, you all deserved those ‘A’s and good luck in the future. So much for people who say that Millenniums don’t know how to communicate. This group took Business Communications to new heights. All you have to do is get them away from the cell phones.
Disclaimer: Please Google “Buscomonzefi.com” for the class presentation and work. It is very detailed orientated and showcases these students’ talent as future Executives.
Professor Justin Watrel, Founder & CEO Buscomonzefi.com: Home of the ‘Bwidge’
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