The ideas are ambitious. Unique. Outside the box.
When Vince Aguirre signed up his company to partner with the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI, he says he had no idea he’d gain so much from the experience.
“I didn’t truly understand how much value I would gain from the partnership until I was in it. I felt like I would be giving more to the students than I received, but I really received much more than I ever expected – much more than I gave,” said Aguirre, whose company was studied by undergraduate students in Kelley’s Integrated Core (I-Core).
I-Core is the cornerstone of the Kelley Indianapolis Undergraduate Program. Junior-level students study marketing, finance, operations and supply chain management and team dynamics and leadership throughout the semester. Partner companies work with a student team as the team develops a business plan to introduce a new product or service that meets the company’s mission statement and values while achieving their objectives.
“Each student team had a different idea, product or service I could offer to reach more people,” explained Aguirre, who is president of Distinct Web Design, a digital marketing company. “I was so impressed with the effort they put into researching the ideas, crunching the numbers, considering financial ratios, developing marketing plans and presenting a recommendation.”
I-Core gives Kelley Indianapolis undergraduate students the opportunity to apply theories and skills to a real-world business problem and solution. Company representatives participate in an on-campus meeting to talk about the company’s current business and to provide background information to help student analysis. At the end of the semester, students present their recommendations and analysis to company representatives and Kelley School faculty.
“I-Core provides value to the community by giving partner companies new and unjaded eyes to provide creative ideas,” said Kim Donahue, senior lecturer in marketing and the I-Core coordinator for the Kelley School at IUPUI. “This partnership also serves as a doorway for companies to get to know our students and vice versa, which often manifests in internships or job opportunities.
“The benefit to the students is immeasurable. They don’t always see it as they go through the semester, but many graduates have contacted us later to say thank you. They explain how it helped differentiate them in the job search, and they’re also able to use a lot of the concepts as they begin in their careers.”
Todd Banvich, an account manager with LifeShare Technologies, graduated from the Kelley School at IUPUI and participated in I-Core as a student, so he has a unique perspective. He says the company partnered with Kelley for an I-Core project, asking students to consider the potential for new products or services the company could offer. LifeShare, powered by Spectrio, provides senior living communities with technology to connect residents with their families and with facility peers and staff – essentially giving residents a way to share and see family photos and to keep in touch with events and news.
“Students really took initiative to come up with creative solutions for different markets,” said Banvich. “For example, one group offered ‘LifeChair,’ a pre-programmed wheelchair to help people stay mobile around their community or home, and another group suggested ‘LifeCare,’ a software program to let parents know how their child is doing at daycare throughout the day.”
In fact, during the project, Banvich says the company put digital signage in a daycare where one of the students worked because they realized there was a need their company could help with.
“It’s definitely worthwhile pursuing, especially if you’re looking to branch out into other markets,” said Banvich about his Kelley partnership during I-Core. “We never realized LifeShare could be used in several of these markets. Students worked to show how the functionality changes cater to each new market. This partnership is also a way to invest in finding future employees and helping to develop young professionals who will make a difference in our community.”
“The ideas were ambitious,” said Scott James, a district manager for Penske Trucking Company. “I thought one idea was particularly useful: A student team suggested implementing a ‘drowsy driver detection’ system that creates an alert if the driver is drowsy or otherwise preoccupied on the road. It was great to see an idea reflected on a topic that’s really important in our industry right now.”
“We truly enjoyed our involvement,” James added. “It was a good way for us to market our company and find potential associates for the future. I think it’s an awesome opportunity to see what kind of talent is out there, and it’s a good way to identify future potential hires.”
Ron Rose, owner of Indiana Realty Pros, worked with the honors I-Core section last fall. He has another unique perspective of I-Core: Three of his daughters were accepted to the Kelley School at IUPUI, and two of them have gone through I-Core as well.
“This gives students the real-world experience of working on a team, with different personalities, toward an end goal. How do you communicate with each other? How do you manage with a huge project and timelines and deadlines? The focus is not only on learning more about finance, marketing, etc… but about how to work in a team to get things done,” said Rose.
“I was honored to be chosen to work with the students through this process,” he added. “It was fun to present to the students in the beginning of the semester to share a bit more about our company, what we do, and where we come from. The students shared interesting ideas about ways to expand our business: How to enter into another business venture that could show profit in about five years. They suggested everything from an event center, to a moving company, a home staging company, to self-storage units. The students were engaging and did a lot of deep thought into the finances of all these proposals – Definitely giving me something to reflect on, especially when it comes to things I’m doing on a daily basis.”
For other companies considering participating, Rose recommends it.
“If you have the heart to pay it forward, this is a great opportunity. It was truly rewarding,” he explained.
Mishell Cox, CEO of Cox Residential, graduated from the Kelley School at IUPUI and participated in I-Core as a student. She involved her family’s roofing company after she graduated.
“For us, students worked to see what new divisions we could open within the company, and they provided analysis and numbers to recommend whether or not each division would be a good option. They were amazing ideas.”
“For other companies considering this, it’s absolutely worth it. The minds of college students are so fresh. They have so many good ideas, and they truly have a different perspective from those of us who’ve been in the business for awhile.”
How to get involved
Please complete an application if you’d like to get your business involved.
Any for-profit organization can apply. The ideal company will have been in business a minimum of five years and will have shown an operating profit for at least three years (minimum one year). The company must be incorporated as an S corporation, C corporation or an LLC.
Posted By: Teresa Mackin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 317-274-2233