Business students get hands-on experience

For Minnesota State University, Mankato students in the United Prairie Business Experience, last week was the most stressful week of their semester. 

The business experience, or IBE, is a program within the College of Business that puts together groups of 15 to 20 students to create a business, with all profits being donated to each groups’ charity of choice. 

Last Thursday, three groups presented their business plans to bankers from United Prairie Bank and made a request for a loan. 

The three businesses formed by students this year are named Kato Kaps, Kato Classics, and Stomper Grounds. 

Each business gives a presentation where they lay out their mission statement, the product they will be selling, their marketing strategy, financial projections, and the dollar amount for their loan request. 

After their presentation the companies are subject to questioning from the bankers. 

One of the bankers is Brett Feldman, an alum from MSU. Eight years ago Feldman participated in the IBE program and saw the opportunities from it. 

“I actually got an internship at United Prairie Bank because I was in the IBE company,” said Feldman. 

After serving as an intern at the bank, Feldman moved into a full time position, and for approximately six years has been functioning as an advisor for the IBE program. 

Following their presentations, each company goes through a round of questioning that is designed to stress test each company as it pushes the students to be ready for any specific concern the bank might have in regard to their business plan and ability to pay the loan back. 

“It’s definitely about seeing how they respond to it, and we can definitely tell when they are making up answers,” said Feldman, “and we definitely ask them questions that they don’t know.”

Kato Kaps was the first to present last Thursday. The company’s aim is to sell trendy headwear, with their target market being MSU students. The company will have two products available, a bucket hat and a baseball cap. 

The group requested for $2,940.30 to cover the initial inventory costs as well as operating and marketing expenses.

The cap company will donate their profits to the Jonathan Zierdt Cancer fund via the Mankato Area Foundation. 

The next company up was Kato Classics, which will be selling crewnecks with a retro-style logo. The company chose crewnecks as their main product, citing springtime increasing demand for a lightweight sweatshirt compared to a heavier hoodie. 

Kato Classics requested $3,000 to make the inventory purchases, create marketing material, and have petty cash on hand. 

The company chose VINE Faith in Action as their non-profit to make their donation to. 

Finally, the company Stomper Grounds presented their products to the bankers. They will offer a multi-functional can koozie as well as a lawn chair for their products. With springtime in the air, Stomper Grounds hopes to appeal to students and faculty as they begin to spend more time outside. 

Their loan request added up to $5,556.61 in order to cover the costs of their products. 

Stomper Grounds will be donating their profits to the Mankato Area United Way. 

With all of the profits from each company going straight to charity, Feldman is proud to play a role in educating these students while having an impact on the community. 

“Just seeing the money that’s donated to charity and knowing that UPB plays a part in that,” Feldman described as his favorite part about the IBE experience.

Write to Maxwell Mayleben at Maxwell.Mayleben@mnsu.edu

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