Marketing students at the UNL College of Business Administration are increasingly taking on challenges of the modern business world as part of their curriculum. Students taking Marketing Management (Marketing 442
) the capstone course for marketing majors, learn the process of developing business plans by doing just that – they work with business leaders from companies and organizations in the Lincoln area to market a product.
For students like Matt May, who graduated from CBA this spring with a dual major in marketing and business administration, the class proved to be a launching pad for entering the business world himself.
“A lot of times we do case studies out of a textbook,” May said, “but this was the first time I had real world experience working with someone who was pursuing their own dream and building their own product.”
May and his project team worked with former UNL graduate Matt Sherman, who owns Three Pillars Media
, a local media company that produces videos, commercial photography and web site designs. Sherman wanted to produce an application he calls Mobile Trucker for his new startup company Agile Ninjas.
Matt Sherman at his Three Pillars Media office
“The mobile trucker device is a product that would allow truckers to access information from headquarters when they are out on the road,” Sherman explained. “I met with students back in March and they took in all the details of the product.”
Sherman talked to the students about potential buyers, the current market place and some of his own ideas for the product. “They didn’t really need a lot of help after that,” he said.
May and his team quickly learned that just like in the real world, each member of the team had a unique contribution to make to the business plan.
“It was kind of neat because each of us was able to provide something different with the experience that we had,” May said. “I grew up on a family farm in Imperial, Neb., so I had experience working with perishable goods that related to the nature of the product. Each of us brought something different to the table.”
The students did follow-ups with Sherman along the way. They also did surveys and talked to potential customers to hone their plan.
“The biggest thing all of us learned was the importance of being able to paint a picture to other people who have no idea about the product,” May said. “We had to prove to people the potential of a product that they had never seen, and that’s difficult when it’s something completely new and revolutionary in the market.”
Sherman could see that the students really grasped the process and importance of building a solid marketing plan.
“Once they started talking to actual customers and deciding who those customers could be, then they really started understanding the need for the product and what clients could use it,” Sherman said.
, assistant professor of practice in marketing, taught the class and witnessed the positive response that the business leaders had to the student plans across the board.
“I don’t think any of them were disappointed with the plans,” Simon said. “I have been surprised how many of the owners and managers have attended the presentations, and how much they are sharing with the project teams about their businesses.”
Simon also sees the networking opportunities with business leaders as being an important learning component of the class.
May, who played on the Husker football team at UNL, has already used his networking skills to acquire a full time job with Hudl, a local company which produces coaching software used by sports teams at all levels throughout the country.
As for the Mobile Trucker application, Sherman plans on integrating aspects of the student plan into his own and eventually launching the product in early 2013.