After only a week and a half of preparation, three Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) School of Business and Industry students Brooke Slauter, Shytina Harley, and Walter Bennett led by business instructor LaTanya White brought home first place in the first Black Enterprise Smart Case Competition for students.
The competition, which was held during the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit in Miami, brought together teams from Fort Valley State University, Morgan State University, Hampton University, and FAMU.
Each team sought to find solutions for one of two cases presented by the Black Enterprise team. The FAMU team chose to focus on the black-owned Industrial Bank, based in Washington, D.C., that is looking to market financial products to millennials.
Though many teams offered similar marketing solutions, Black Enterprise Education Editor Robin White Goode, said FAMU students captured the judges with their impressive presentation.
“FAMU bowled the judges over with its presentation quality and flow, its use of personal narrative—Hope, who put a face on the millennial market—in addition to its clear, specific, actionable solution,” Goode said in a press release.
White said she believes the students benefitted greatly from participating in the competition because they were able to take a real-world problem and apply the research and analytical techniques they learn in class.
“I think so much of the time in the classroom looks like just theory,” White said. “This was a learning experience that will help them connect what they’re learning in the classroom to what they see as consumers, to what they can contribute as innovators.”
White, who teaches entrepreneurship, said the case study showed the students that although they may not be interested solely in entrepreneurship or working for an established corporation, there is room for their talents wherever they may be interested in working.
“Admittedly not everyone is an entrepreneur or wants to be an entrepreneur, and not everybody wants to work for the big, major companies, but we all are problem solvers,” White said.
She explained that two of the students who participated were interested in working in corporate America, while one of the students was interested in starting a company. White said this experience allowed the students to collaborate and see how they could contribute to each other.
“I think it’s important that students understand that whether it is a startup or a small business or even the entrepreneur that is a technician, they need the accounting students, they need the marketing students,” White said. “You have to build your team around the skills that you don’t have that are essential for you to be successful and sustainable.”