This past Thursday the LABB group visited two Wabash men in their nesting grounds. Joe Trebley, who is the Head of Startup Support and Promotion at the Indiana Research and Technology Corporation in Indianapolis (IURTC), and David Waldman the Co-Founder of Triton Brewing Company.
Talk about two distinct paths with more peculiarities. Joe and David both personify how a person works with unwrought materials and makes their own polished product that is their profession. What I learned from both of them is something you just cannot learn in a classroom.
While at IURTC Joe told us how he got to IURTC working with Startups with a Ph.D. in Medicinal Chemistry. His story was filled with successes and failures and like and prudent Wabash Man, Joe said he learned more from his failures. Joe through those hurdles was able to blend “science and business,” the two things he saw himself wanting to work with. At IURTC, Joe aids IU students and professors take their research ideas and make them turn a profit. One of the great Startups that he is working on is changing the treatment for PTSD victims.
LABB students, Zack and Alex share an umbrella while waiting for their food in front of Triton Brewing
That same day the LABB group visited Triton Brewing Company and we met David Waldman. David was an English major at Wabash and now owns Triton Brewing Company. David humorously gave us the ups and downs of how runs a successful business that, as he put it, produces a “controlled substance”. It was a change of pace from being in an academic/professional setting at IURTC to then a brewery. What was the same with David and Joe is they both acknowledged that they were talking to us and giving up their time “because someone helped” them when they were a bit unsure of what they wanted to do. David and Joe knew maybe some of us might be unsure but that they were there to help us.
David and Joe did teach us a lot about what they were doing and how their Wabash education helped them get there. While a majority of LABB is in the classroom reading very interesting Harvard Business Cases, getting out interacting with successful alumni doing what they enjoy is also a very beneficial part in LABB. Many thanks to the Lily Endowment for this opportunity!
During week three of the LAAB internship we transitioned to the ideas and strategies of Business of Marketing. Throughout the week we learned a numerous amount of relatable business terms for marketing, strategic marketing vs tactical marketing, and the importance of networking. Monday we all had given our own business pitches for a theoretical restaurant which allowed us to use some of these experiences in a real world situation by creating things like income statements, balance sheets, and marketing strategies. We have also been given great opportunities like meeting alumni such as Rob Shook IBM’s chief strategic industry solution. His talk about motivation, creating opportunities for yourself, and networking was great encouragement for us to reach out to alumni because they are here to help. He spoke of how he stood on alumni’s shoulders to reach his goals and as a Wabash man he owes it to the college to pay back his dues and help out the younger generations of Wabash students.
LABB students finishing up their negotiation practice
Throughout the internship I’ve learned real world business situations from the many hands-on activities we’ve done throughout the internship, site visits of different start up business, and building relations and meeting alumni. I’ve also learned to speak “business” in the sense of learning many different business vocabulary and understanding all the paperwork behind starting and owning a business. I would like to give a huge thanks to the Lilly Endowment for funding the program. I’ve learned so much in the first three weeks that can be applied to many real world situations. With my Rhetoric major and Econ minor I plan to get into business marketing and then one day own my own business. This internship has opened my eyes to the actual work that goes into business and has motivated me to continue to follow my dreams because they are definitely obtainable with hard work and dedication. Thank you Lilly Endowment
This week was the Financial Boot Camp. We were lucky enough to have Will Weber ’11 come into class to teach us everything we needed to know about the financial details of starting, maintaining, and operating our own business. Personally, the largest hurdle that would come to my mind in starting a new business was generating the initial capital. It was always tough to get my mind around the amount of capital needed to start a business. I couldn’t understand how anyone did it! It seemed like you had to already have a boatload of resources to work with. How can anyone do it from nothing? All of my questions were answered and more. Will was very generous with his knowledge and gave all of the details on creating a start-up from nothing. Will taught us about where to find the initial capital and where to look for investors. It boiled down to four main avenues. Bank loans, angel investors, friends and family, and credit cards were the best solutions. We learned about the pros and cons of each source, and what to expect when lobbying for initial investments. We learned how to finance and how to budget our ventures. After looking at the hard figures, and learning how to map out our financial forecast, everything suddenly became clear. Starting a business no longer seemed like a pipe dream. The LABB internship has already far surpassed my already high expectations, and it is only the beginning of week 3! I look forward to what else is to come, and I am very excited to learn how to build even more bridges to business. I would like to extend a huge thank you to the Lilly Endowment for funding this incredible program, Will Weber for lending his time this past week, and Roland Morin for taking the lead in the LABB program.
First week is down in the books. During our first week we were tasked with crafting a business plan for a variety of different restaurant types. Beginning this business plan has been eye opening as I am just being introduced to the business field. There is so much that goes into a single business plan and I am intrigued to learn the ins and outs of it, as we work on it the next two weeks. One of this week’s highlights was watching Shark Tank. I’d never seen this television show before. Watching entrepreneurs give pitches of a lifetime in front of four “sharks”, venture capitalists, gave me ideas for future endeavors. I was able to make connections to real life business, and our current business plan because of the show. Every company is backed by a strong business plan, as it is the foundation and glue to any successful company. Weston Gregg, who led the LABB program the first week, occasionally paused the show, to ask questions that kept us engaged. Often he would ask if we would invest in the entrepreneurs company, I’d like to think that investing in other people’s dreams is just as important as investing in your own. Next Monday we are planning on giving pitches of our own and I hope to use some of the concepts of presenting that that we were able to observe on Shark Tank. Many times on Shark Tank poor ideas are overshadowed by the strength of the presentation. It is my goal to be such a strong presenter that no matter the content, I am captivating and convincing. For example, the group of interns gave pitches about ourselves in order ascertain our strengths and weaknesses so that we could be divided into groups for our first business plans. I take pride in my ideas and values, which is what I believe made my pitch strong. I was assigned to a group that I believe is going to be extremely successful. To be apart of the business field, we must be self-confidence, and put our best foot forward in every endeavor. Finally I would like to thank the generosity of the Lilly Endowment for providing me with the opportunity to take part in the LABB program.
The LABB students after introductions on the first day of their internship
I would first like to take this opportunity to thank the Lilly Endowment for its generous support and investment in my education. The first week of the Liberal Art Bridge to Business (LABB) program has just been completed and my fellow LABB interns and I have already taken part in engaging exercises and activities to help us develop a better understanding for business and entrepreneurship. Some of these exercises included Power-Point presentations with the goal of improving our speaking skills and confidence in front of a live group of listeners. For example, our first task consisted of making a 5-minute presentation over a topic of our choice, with a wide variety of topics ranging from “Why Chipotle is the best restaurant in existence” to favorite sports teams and movie series’ on television. Keep in mind that after 5 minutes of presenting, many colleagues were encouraged to give positive feedback on how we each presented. Dean Oprisko was also present to provide helpful tips on how to give a more effective and convincing presentation. Tips ranged from body language and time management to voice intonation. I would like to thank Dean Oprisko for donating his time and efforts to the LABB program.
Alejandro Reyna ’17 gives his 5-minute presentation in front of his fellow LABB interns
I felt it was very effective watching others being critiqued as well because I was able to learn from their presentations and polish my own. Preparation for the presentations included creating a personalized Power-Point with valid information and practice presenting to others on our own time. Practice was necessary until we could we could comfortably present our Power-Points within 10 seconds of the 5 minute mark. The significance of the 5-minute mark was to teach us how to provide valid information to business associates without taking up too much of their time because in the real world, time is money. Also, practice in front of others was necessary to make us more comfortable in presenting. This whole exercise was very helpful in getting me out of my comfort zone and communicating in front of large groups effectively and persuasively which is an essential ability in the business world. I look forward to the following weeks of the LABB Program and learning more about business and entrepreneurship!
Alan Ortiz ’17 - The Liberal Arts Bridges to Business was an excellent opportunity for me to see what the business world is like. It is an excellent program full of fun and great opportunities to learn a great amount about the business world. All seven weeks were a great experience and I will definitely recommend it to as many people as I possibly can next year. Throughout the seven weeks I had many challenges to overcome and a great amount of work to do, but it was exciting work and I really enjoyed all the tasks that I had in hand, because I was able to work on many of my weak spots. I was challenged to think critically everyday and I got to talk to many extremely successful alums.
There were many great experiences throughout the seven weeks, but my personal favorite was when we visited JMI and met with Wes Zirkel ’98. He talked to us about the business side of marketing and how lawyers are extremely involved in marketing deals. He also showed us the sexy side of marketing and I was extremely impressed by what he does. I also enjoyed his stories about all of the work experience that he had and everything that he has done throughout the years. I was extremely impressed by all of his achievements and all that he has done at such a young age. At JMI we also got to see many exotic cars, which I thought, were really cool!
Ortiz ’17 at JMI
The last week of the LABB program we presented our consulting project. This was a project that we had been working on for about 5 weeks. My group suggested to incorporate a new system called EMS. I thought that our presentation was a great one and even though I did not have the chance to present I think that our work paid off. In conclusion I would like to say that doing this program was something that has really helped me in being a more educated individual in the business world, and I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment and our teacher Roland Morin ’91 for putting this internship together and allowing us to have this great opportunity.
Corey Hoffman ’16
Corey Hoffman ’16 - One of the major aspects of the LABB program was the business plans. For each of the two business plans we had to develop, we were divided into teams and had to develop a fully functional business plan (or at least what we were able to produce within the time restriction). For the first business plan, the group was divided into teams of three, and each group was given the task of developing a business plan for a restaurant. The catch was, one group had to do a food truck, one a sit down restaurant, one a franchise, one a bar, one a deli, and the last a café. This wide range of options led to some amazing creativity, a trait that appeared rather absent in many students’ initial surveys. After two weeks of many dedicated hours of work, the day to present had arrived. We were to present in front of a panel of judges, who each had tens of thousands of dollars in “play money” in which they could invest however they pleased. My group, consisting of myself and Weston Gregg ’16, created a business plan for a food truck called Golden Boy Burgers, located in Lafayette, IN. We were able to obtain the most investment money due to our low startup costs.
Using our experience from this first business plan project, we divided into new groups of four or five to create a business plan for any business of our choosing. The four groups did a recording studio, a 3D printing company, a CrossFit gym, and a social media marketing company. All groups had greatly improved from the first set of business plans, despite having one week less to do it. Other than the fact that the group sizes were roughly double those of the restaurant business plans, we were all much more experienced and understood much better what needed to be done and how to do it.
Through these business plan projects, we were able to virtually immerse ourselves in real world business, by developing financial plans, marketing strategies, brand development, and product. While there is obviously much more detailed matter that we were unable to cover due to the time restrictions, we were all able to take away a lot from these experiences, and can eventually implement them into our careers.
I would like to give a huge thanks to the Lilly Foundation and Roland Morin ’91 for making this program possible and also to the judges of each business plan for providing helpful feedback.
Jake Budler ’17
Jake Budler ’17 - As week 6 of the Liberal Arts Bridge to Business (LABB) internship comes to a close, the focus of us interns has turned to the Consulting Project. Throughout the past week we have done several case studies, another negotiation, and a Google Hangout, however we are all looking forward to the final week, during which we are giving our presentations about the Campus Scheduler.
Throughout the past week, we have been meeting in our groups (there are three separate groups) to discuss and prepare our presentations. The groups have taken the information learned during a community forum that was held, as well as several additional meetings, and each devised a consulting pitch for the College to improve and fix problems with the current scheduler. My group in particular has devised many solutions to problems that our current scheduler has. We decided, for many reasons, that it would be better for the College to fix the problems rather than install an entirely new system.
For me personally, the Consulting Project has been a highlight of the LABB program. The project provides a way for me to practically use much of the knowledge that I have gained in the past six weeks in a tangible and practical way. Before the LABB program I would not have been able to contribute to my consulting group what I have for our presentation. I am very excited for this upcoming Wednesday, where we will be presenting to over 40 members of the Wabash community who have given an RSVP for the presentation. It will be great to see the LABB interns have a real effect of the future of Wabash College.
The skills that I have learned from both the Consulting Project and the LABB program as a whole are very valuable for me. Being a rising sophomore, I feel like LABB was the perfect way to spend my first summer of college. I learned a lot about different facets of the business world, but more importantly to me was the exposure to real businesses. The trips that we took around Indiana, the guest speakers that we had, and finally the Consulting Project are experiences that are invaluable real world experiences that I will be able to use in the future.
Daniel Scofield ’17
Daniel Scofield ’17 – Each year the LABB program interns are assigned a consulting project to work on based on a request from the college. The problem that arose this year for the program was the Wabash Scheduler. It was put upon us to analyze and come up with recommendations on how to improve the current system and we absolutely had no restrictions. We were then divided up into three separate groups to see who was able to come up with the best plans on how to fix the scheduler problem. Once assigned to our groups, we held a community forum as well as meetings with individuals from various departments who actively use the scheduler. The forum as well as the meetings allowed us to gain valuable input and knowledge on the current issues with the scheduler. After we had enough data and understanding of the scheduler, it was time to put our critical thinking skills to the test and begin coming up with possible solutions.
We were told that cost was not an issue and this allowed the groups to explore all possible outcomes which varied from a simple remodeling of the current system to an extreme which was to introduce a third-party software. I was a member of the group that thought it was in the best interest for the college to move on with a third-party system. Since the software was far pricier than remodeling the current system, it was very important for us to convince the audience that the software was what the college needed to fix all of the current problems with the scheduler. The ease of use and time saved using the software would compensate for the higher price which is what we advocated.
After all of the research had been done and numerous practice presentations had been completed, it was finally time to stand up to give our recommendations. Some would say it could be a little intimidating presenting in front of the president, deans of the college, and many other high up officials of the college, but to myself I just saw it as a chance to explain my group’s ideas in order to help out the college. Since I believed in the product that I was presenting it made it very easy to try and sell it to the individuals in the audience that morning. It was a great honor being able to work on this consulting project because it showed the great amount of trust that the college held in us. It’s not very often that a college passes along a significant campus problem to a group of students and that is what makes this program so special. Not only do you learn the essentials of business through discussions and site visits, but you also have projects that you have the opportunity to see all the way through.
Joel Whittington ’15
Joel Whittington ’15 - The Liberal Arts Bridge to Business (LABB) program has been one of the most educational experiences I have had at Wabash, and it is almost over. It’s hard to believe that there is only one week left of the LABB program. It has been a challenging summer so far; by this point we’ve covered everything there is to cover about business startups and starting businesses of our own.
With our business plans done, IBM was the focus of this last week. The tech giant is a far cry from the small startup companies we had read about. Like the other firms we have looked at, we read a study covering a major decision that affected the direction of the company in a major way. This study dealt with IBM’s creation of BlueGene, the world’s fastest computer, in the early 2000’s.
We did more than just read about the company. On Wednesday we got the chance to talk, via Google Hangout, to Bill Kerst, a self-proclaimed ‘Wabash Groupie’, and Rob Shook ’83. Both are employed by IBM and have traveled the world on projects for the company. We spoke for a little over an hour about the pros and cons of working for Corporate America as opposed to smaller firms. Surprisingly, Rob told a story about how IBM had taken care of his family on one of his business trips to Australia in a way that didn’t fit with the ‘Evil Empire’ persona that big corporations all seem to have. At the end of the talk, these two very successful men gave some advice on getting our feet in the door in a large corporation like IBM. Bill’s advice was to “shadow people wherever possible” while Rob ’83 strongly advocated interning, which is how he got his start at IBM. Both men were cool to talk to and it was a pretty laid-back conversation. Like everything else in this program, I got a lot out of this conversation. This program really is a crash-course MBA. I never would have thought I could learn as much about business as I have in the last six weeks. I’ll be a little sad when it’s over after next week, but I know it’s been worth every minute and I’m glad I was chosen to take part.