SFU MBAs showcase social entrepreneurship projects at Opportunity Fest Fair

Jul 27, 2012

The winning team, Blue Motion Tech. From left to right: Kartik Manghnani, Rachelle Hay, Ashley Burgess and Lindsay McIvor.

Students from the MBA program at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business last week demonstrated their social entrepreneurship business plans at the Opportunity Fest Fair.

The exhibition, held in the atrium of the Harbour Centre towers on Wednesday, 18 July, was part of Beedie Professor Eric Gedajlovic’s MBA Entrepreneurship class. Students were split into groups and tasked with creating their own business plans before presenting to a panel of judges consisting of members of the local business community.

The judges were armed with so-called “Beedie Bucks” – hypothetical dollars which they could allocate to the teams with the best ideas. After much deliberation, the top three teams were presented with specially-made gold, silver and bronze beedie medals.

The winning team, Blue Motion Tech, comprised of students Rachelle Hay, Ashley Burgess, Lindsay McIvor and Kartik Manghnani presented the “Healthy Handle” – a motion activated door handle which allows the public to exit the washroom without touching anything, whereby reducing the risk of communicable disease being passed on by people who fail to wash their hands. 

“Research has shown that an astounding 50% of people fail to wash their hands when exiting the washroom,” explains Hay. “This, combined with the fact that virtually all other points of contact in washrooms are now automated, encouraged us to develop a simple and scalable solution to help alleviate public health issues. This project allowed us to fuse key learning points from all of our MBA courses to cultivate and present our concept. It was great practice, exposing us to the extensive ground work required in planning a business venture.”

The second place team of Alice Longhurst, Alannah Cervenko, Sreejit Narayanan and Rob Graham, impressed the judges with their plan for a BC Community Engagement Tuition Offset Program. Their business plan demonstrated an innovative solution to increase volunteerism in British Columbia by offering financial incentives towards further education for volunteers.

The bronze medal was awarded to Colin Stansfield, Scott Gage, Zain Nayani and Farzian Aminuddin. Their venture, Longtail Communications, showcased a professional call service firm offering customer engagement strategies for Vancouver-based SMEs. The firm would focus on sustainable and social issues by minimizing their carbon footprint and offering job opportunities to community residents with barriers to traditional employment.

Business plans presented by the other teams spanned a wide spectrum of products and services. The products designed by the students included a collapsible two-in-one baby buggy/car seat, an environmentally-friendly air body dryer designed for hotels, a refill station for store-brand laundry detergent and LCD advertising designed for the SkyTrain.

Meanwhile, the services offered featured a mentorship and training program for immigrant entrepreneurs in British Columbia, a professional sound-proofing solutions service, a solar energy solution for Vancouver homes, a video golf lounge chain and a real estate investment company designed to help renters own their homes sooner than otherwise possible.

“The variety of the business plans showcased here is testament to the creativity of the students,” says Gedajlovic. “The project has necessitated them to use many of the skills taught in the MBA program such as researching market trends, performing cost analysis and identifying gaps in the market for these products and services. Many of these businesses have great potential to succeed in the real world and the judges were impressed by the detail provided in each of the presentations.”

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