Le Fer Hall

SMWC students celebrated National Small Business Week

News | 05.10.2023
Kourtney Barrett and the students in her Small Business Management course

National Small Business Week takes place the first week of May every year. The timing could not have been more perfectly aligned with the final projects completed by students from the Small Business Management course, taught by Kourtney Barrett. Students were challenged with the opportunity to put their creative and innovative skills into action by developing their own small business plan. Over the course of the semester, students connected with local small business owners when they visited as guest speakers. Recurring themes of servant leadership, big-picture thinking and the ability to pivot supported the required readings and assignments. Speakers also shed light on actively engaging as a contributing member to the community.

Students self-selected whether they wanted to tackle the challenge independently or as a team. With a toolbox of resources provided by the Indiana Small Business Center, students had six weeks to turn their ideas into opportunities. Jared Ell, ecosystem navigator with the Indiana Small Business Center, shared best pitch practices. These best practices were supported by entrepreneur and successful Shark Tank contestant Heather Saffer. Saffer is an avid entrepreneur, published author, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and currently serves as a Pitch Consultant. Saffer shared her pitch experiences via Zoom. She reiterated the importance of personalizing the pitch through storytelling. She also stressed the need to practice, practice, practice!

Dezmond Jett and JR Lumsden, winners

The pitch competition took place on May 1 in the Hulman Conference Center. Sara Amstutz (lecturer at SMWC), BJ Riley (director of marketing and communications at SMWC), and Jared Ell (ecosystem navigator with the Indiana Small Business Center) served as the judges. Students had 10-15 minutes to make their pitch, followed by a five-minute Q&A. Over the course of two hours, six business plans were pitched. Judges convened to review how well each group met the criteria and made the difficult decision. Following a short debate, the judges awarded Dezmond Jett and JR Lumsden as the recipients of “The Best Pitch” for their company, Divine Assembly. Divine Assembly is an actual business that Jett, Lumsden and non-SMWC student, DJ Alexander, founded together. Jett reflected on the experience stating, “We enjoyed working on the business plan because it gave us the chance to outline our goals and what we would want to accomplish for our brand in the future. While making our pitch, we engaged with the audience so that it would feel authentic, giving them the chance to relate to our story. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity given to us of being able to display our brand!”

Barrett and the students want to thank the small business owners for providing real-world applications and showing how hard work, commitment and tenacity can make anything possible.

Guest speakers during the semester
Maja Alic Austin, Owner of Little Bear Coffee Company
Matt and Renée Bilyeu, Owners of Culvers, Terre Haute
Courtney Chipol, Director of Indiana Small Business Center
Christy Pearison, Assistant Director of Indiana Small Business Center and founder and owner of multiple businesses
Jenn Kersey, Founder and Owner, Rustic Root Co.
Todd Hein, President, Labor Link

Other business plan presentations:
Taiwo Anifowose, Jamarius Evans, Sydney Kramer, Preston Mitchell and Hamza Zagmouzi: Kokomo Cybersecurity
Cam Atchison: Soul Chamber
Colby Beckwith, Bryce Coley, Abigail Drake and Mattelyn Hoard: FitLife
Alexis Brinkley and Kaitlyn Wright: Tiny Tots Tumble Town
Luke Brower and Aaron Collins: Edge Sports Complex