A start-up is born

Posted on June 07, 2016

Entrepreneurship class inspires students to solve the problem of access to healthy food

A global perspective. An innovative mindset. Exceptional problem solving. The Bryan School prepares students with all the skills they need to succeed. For six students In Noah Reynolds’ Feasibility Analysis class, a semester-long entrepreneurship project honed all of these skills at once — and left them with a life-changing experience.

“No one will be able to forget this class,” says Alexandria Bryne Lowry, who just earned her degree in Business Administration.

The assignment: Develop a feasibility plan for a new business venture.

The first step was to form a well-balanced team. The team of six who ultimately won Best Project — Andrew Burchard, Waleed Alkhalefah, Adam Huffine, Alexandria Bryne Lowry, Hsuan-wen Wang, and Francesca Fabbricatore — identified needed strengths in one another. Someone to handle the financials. Someone to certify the start-up. A person to keep the team organized and moving forward. And, of course, someone with the big idea.

Francesca, a first-generation international student from Italy, planted the seed of inspiration. “When I arrived on campus, the first thing I asked my roommate was, ‘Do you have a farmer’s market?’ I need fresh fruit and vegetables, but transportation to the store was a challenge.”

Problems to solve

As a result, the team came up with a problem to solve: a shortage of healthy snack and meal options in urban and rural areas, especially for working class people living in “Time Deserts,” where they have limited time for breaks and lunch and cannot travel to find healthy food in a nearby restaurant or grocery store.

The group’s solution? Food Oasis Express (FOX). Their idea was to create a business that would place healthy-eating vending machines in areas of high employee traffic such as airports, hospitals, manufacturing facilities, and business complexes where employees must either pack a meal or use existing vending or food services at the location where they work.

“Entrepreneurship is both the art of creating an idea that is useful to society and the science of molding and shaping it into an investable opportunity and ultimately a profitable business,” says instructor W. Noah Reynolds. “That’s what this team did.” Noah co-teaches the course with in-class librarian Steve Cramer, who helps students to access the research they need to successfully understand their industry and to identify their target markets.

One project, many takeaways

As the team members put the finishing touches on their project, they each had their own personal highlights about the experience. “The financial section was one of the most exciting because we got to see the real-world profitability,” says Andrew. It’s amazing how much more confident I am now in my ability to start a business.”

For Waleed, it was the value of working in a group and accomplishing one goal through a great deal of joint effort. For Francesca, it was the “power of communication,” which was critical to breaking down a potential language barrier among team members who came from Italy, Taiwan, Saudia Arabia, and the U.S. Hsuan-wen gained a much greater understanding of supply chain management and how it applies to her father’s shoe factory in Taiwan.

Every member feels ready to take on the real-world challenges that will come their way in their careers.

“Before the course, I had a few questions swirling around in my head,” says Adam. “’Is entrepreneurship really the degree that’s going to get me the job? Am I marketable to a company?’ After this project, I realized I had become self-sufficient. I can complete a task and solve problems and make ideas profitable. When a company sees that you can work together and build something with others as well as count on yourself, that’s invaluable.”

“This has been the most difficult class of my collegiate career. The sheer amount of work and hours put into it was incredible. But it gave me real-world, applicable knowledge that I know I will take into my career.”  

– Andrew Burchard, Entrepreneurship major with a concentration in English


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