Every great business starts with an idea. But turning that idea into a tangible product requires teamwork.
That’s why Suffolk’s entrepreneurship course—Launching New Products (ENT 358)—takes a multidisciplinary and hands-on approach. Unlike a traditional entrepreneurship class, the students do more than develop business plans and marketing strategies for their products. They also have to build a working prototype and sell the concept to a panel of executive judges.
This fall, the class worked in teams to develop 11 new product ideas, which ranged from kitchen appliances and travel accessories to toiletry products and mobile apps. And on December 8, they pitched their ideas to a local angel investor and executives and representatives from Staples, Brookstone, Cambridge Sound Management, Sprout Design Studio, the Small Business Administration, and Eastern Bank.
Collaboration across Campus
The students brought their ideas to life by working with students across Suffolk schools. Graphic design and illustration students helped the entrepreneurs develop visual identities, build prototype sketches, and create their pitch presentations. Suffolk engineers, and even some chemistry students, helped build working prototypes of the products.
“Collaborating between the schools felt exactly like starting a real business. We needed help with the product design and functionality, and thanks to the other students, our product became a reality,” said Geoffroy Hittinger-Roux. His group came up with the idea for luggage with retractable wheels.
Working together challenged the entrepreneurs to think differently about their products. “Instead of just focusing on strategy, the designers helped us make sure that our product was going make sense to the consumer,” said Bernard Stephen Gengel. His group developed an all-natural fragrance company that uses authentic agarwood and a unique fragrance nozzle.
Testing the product was also a critical step. “Actually creating the product allowed us to fix any mistakes along the way,” said Kendra Wilkinson. Her group developed an apron that pages restaurant servers when customers need something.
After presenting their ideas to business executives, many students are ready to pitch to large corporations. Gengel and his teammates, for instance, have already purchased the intellectual property rights for their idea and plan to license their fragrance nozzle to major companies.