Feasibility Study Wins Small Business Institute Project of the Year

The Oden’s idea to open a tap room within walking distance of a college campus does not sound like an idea that would require analysis. But, as students in Dr. Dianne Welsh’s Entrepreneurship/Business 300 class learned, even the best ideas do not automatically mean an opportunity exists for a successful business.

“What we know is there are a lot of good ideas, but not all good ideas are opportunities. If a business does a feasibility study and a business plan, the chances of the business succeeding are 60% higher,” said Dr. Welsh.

In fact, the team’s work garnered a national award from The Small Business Institute at their annual conference in February 2017. “This is the only award of its kind in the United States,” Dr. Welsh said. “Judges come from all over the country.” Impressively, UNCG has had winners or placements in the competition every year since 2009. There are three categories for submission: comprehensive, specialized, and feasibility/business plan.

A group gathers at the Small Business Institute conference.

In Dr. Welsh’s class, students chose their project after hearing presentations from potential businesses. Bill Oden and his son, Kellam, brought PowerPoint slides to the class describing the business concept, and outlined their needs for the feasibility study. After the presentations, teams formed around the business proposals. “Our team just sort of migrated together into the brewery group. It was interesting and exciting to work with the opportunities of a real business,” said Randy Roof, one of the four students who formed the team. “It was more about seeing how far we could open this door and truly help create this real live business idea. It was our challenge.”

The Oden Bros. Brewing Company concept is not a unique one in Greensboro, but their site location distinguishes them from competitors. There are already four brew pubs located in the city limits. After making site visits to the other four brew pubs, the team found positives and negatives for each and discovered that none of these competitors were as accessible to UNCG students and residents of the nearby neighborhood, Glenwood, as the Oden Bros. Brewing Company site. They evaluated other factors such as price of a pint of beer, available parking on site, and market penetration.

In February 2018, customers will get their first taste of the product and experience at Oden Bros. Brewing Company. The brew pub will focus on a customer experience that includes not only beer, but wine, coffee, snacks, and a laid-back atmosphere where children and pets are welcome.

Dr. Welsh believes that the diversity of the project team contributed to their success. The team included a non-traditional student and an international student, as well as white, Hispanic, and African-American perspectives. The diversity of the four students, Guadalupe Rodriguez, Randy Roof, Amani Duke, and Kristoffer Holm, “gave us better opportunities,” Randy Roof said.  “We had access to knowledge about topics such as the bar scene, finances, research, English/grammar proficiencies, history, technology, cultures, and more. These abilities gave us traction and we had the ability to plan and take action quickly.”

Through extensive research and analysis, the team prepared operating costs and revenue projections for the first three years of operations. This section of the report heavily informed the business plan Bill Oden created.

“We incorporated a lot of the team’s work into our initial attempts at a business plan. The students were smart, and did a wonderful job.” – Bill Oden.

Team member Guadalupe Rodriguez said, “This (Entrepreneurship/Business 300) was the most helpful class here at UNCG in terms of learning things I can apply to the outside world. I will be able to do a feasibility study to start my own business someday.” First, however, Rodriguez will do something Dr. Welsh points out that 99% of students do after taking classes in an entrepreneurship curriculum—work for a start-up. Guadalupe plans to take the skills she learned while completing the feasibility study and help her own family’s business, an independent grocery in North Carolina.