Each semester, undergraduate entrepreneurship students manage a not-for-profit retail store located in a small corner of the basement of Toner Student Center. Led by professor Chandu Valluri, students in the MG315A Entrepreneurship class gain first-hand experience in starting a business and running its daily operations.
The “Cardinal Corner” will be opening on Monday, Feb. 23. Also visit the class Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/CardinalCorner.
Students choose products to sell in the store as part of this introductory entrepreneurship course. Students are also encouraged to sell items at campus events (pending approval) and to reserve tables at high traffic locations around campus.
This semester, enrolled students visited Excel Images on Jan. 23 to view the company’s products and factory as well as to learn more about the items that they are considering for the Cardinal Corner.
Owner Jack Gunnarson and his son Jon welcomed the class into their showroom, sample room, and production floor. Valluri describes the experience as follows: “Excel Images is a great partner with our class. They care about our students and the experiences this course seeks to provide to them.” Students were excited to feel fabrics, touch products that had laser etching, stitching, and stamping work done, and to look closely at different color swatches. Furthermore, students enjoyed seeing the unique technology that Excel images uses in their business operations.
During the tour, students interacted with multiple employees working on different projects within the firm. The staff at Excel images is kind enough to explain the processes and share different fabrics and samples with the students.
Valluri divides the class into teams. Each team has a manager and clerks. The manager holds additional responsibilities like software training, leading negotiations with suppliers, and communicating the team’s product, pricing and promotional policies to external audiences. Each student is required to work a minimum of two hours per week at the Cardinal Corner location and to sell their products at special events.
Additionally, each team develops a Code of Ethics, selling schedules, financial statements, inventory turn ratios and special event planning and marketing pieces. In addition to sourcing, pricing and selling their product throughout the semester, teams are responsible for reordering from their suppliers, negotiating prices, analyzing their finances, and communicating with the other teams.
Valluri will monitor their success and acts as an observer, but does not get directly involved. “This introductory entrepreneurship course is about teaching students about the entrepreneurial spirit and affording them the opportunity to feel what it is like to be a business owner or part of a team.” Valluri will award points for achieving certain objectives such as marketing pieces, special event sales, and producing a price book and marketing plan. There’s also a competitive nature to the experience. The team-based competition is based on GMROI and Inventory Turn calculations. The team(s) with the highest GMROI and Turns win maximum points.
At the end of the semester, business faculty and Excel Images are invited to a series of team presentations given by the students that describe their experiences throughout the semester.