Mayleben: Why IBE was the best thing I have done in college

There are many things that I have learned through classes while here at MNSU, however, nothing has been so impactful in an educational regard as my time in the Integrated Business Experience. 

When I signed up for the IBE program, all I knew about it was that it was extensive, and that it was a block of 4 classes that all counted toward my major. I quickly applied because I had little to no interest in perfectly crafting a class schedule that year. 

As I began to learn what it meant to be involved in this program, I knew that it was going to be anything but easy. 

On the first day, we were split into companies of 15-20 students, and encouraged to mingle, play ice-breaker/team building games in order to get to know one another. 

After a few days of idea generation, I was chosen by my company for the position of Chief Executive Officer. 

Being put into a leadership position in a company with no product was a daunting position to be in. Not only did I have to work with my company to organize our company, but I was left to lead discussions on what our business was going to be and how we were going to make money. 

Finally, one business model stood above the others: a print to order, dropshipping style online clothing company. We would essentially be creating an online retailer for products that we would order from a third party printer, who would subsequently send each item once they were printed.

Once we had our structure, we needed to design a brand that fit us. Our company voted on the name “Ope Outfitters”, which is a play on the midwestern colloquialism “ope”. 

So we had our brand, we had our business idea, now we just needed the money to get started. 

As with any IBE company, we presented an in depth business plan to United Prairie Bank, in hopes that they would lend us the amount of money we need to get started. 

Leading up to the presentation, we had to solidify, check and double check our financial statements and projections.

I learned how to delegate, trust, and work with those in my company to make sure we had the best presentation possible.

In the end, after months of selling our products, online advertising, and productive meetings with our company, we were able to put $2,257.47 into a fund with the Mankato Area Foundation. 

The feeling of accomplishment my company and I handed over the huge check was unparalleled. We had worked tirelessly, and frankly, grew a few grey hairs, all for the moment when it all became worth it, knowing the money we put in, and the experience we got out of it, would be directly benefiting our community. 

During my time in the IBE program, I learned so much about leadership, accounting and marketing, but more importantly, I learned it all by doing it, rather than reading about it. 

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