Whitman, iSchool students boost Dallas-based business
Whitman, iSchool students boost Dallas-based business April 22, 2009Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
A team of four students from the Whitman School of Management and the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University recently helped Dallas-based entrepreneur Steve Lones take his small e-business to the next level.
Lones, founder and CEO of Great Occasions, sells artificial Christmas trees, garlands, wreaths, LED lights and yard art through the Internet. In 2008, he reached out to the SU student team through the Syracuse Technology Garden in order to access financial forecasting and modeling tool skills, and learn more about search-engine optimization techniques and sophisticated marketing tactics. The payoff has been well worth the effort.
“Great Occasions saw a significant increase in revenue year over year from 2007 to 2008, and we are forecasting another record year for 2009,” says Lones. “Since connecting with SU, Great Occasions has roughly doubled top line revenue, constituting a 40 percent increase from the original 2009 projections. Without the resource dedication, commitment and follow-through from the Whitman and iSchool students, Great Occasions might not have been as successful as is already apparent in 2009.”
Despite the 1,500-mile difference, Lones and the SU students worked closely together, meeting by conference call every week and e-mailing often. The relationship significantly accelerated Lones’ ability to better manage and understand operating costs and marketing opportunities.
“It’s a win for all involved-a company in Dallas gets entrepreneurial help through the Tech Garden and students at SU get real company experience growing a Web-based enterprise,” says Steve Suhowatsky, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Tech Garden.
“It was a very exciting experience to help Great Occasions to enhance its business planning and monitoring competencies by applying tools and knowledge acquired at Whitman,” says graduate student Bruno Geraci, who provided the financial horsepower for the team. “During this process, I learned how challenging it is to start up a company and take the business off the ground. We study these concepts in the classroom, but this was a ‘live’ business case study, and it really emphasized for us the real-world experience of supporting an emerging enterprise to become more competitive and create wealth and jobs by satisfying a market need.”
Other members of the team who helped Great Occasions are iSchool graduate students Ashish Bhalerao and Pradheep Mallikarjun, and Whitman junior Ray Williams.
Businesses interested in learning more about working with Whitman students and/or Whitman Consulting Club teams can contact Amy McHale at (315) 443-9216 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Media queries can be directed to Amy Schmitz, director of communications in the Whitman School, at (315) 443-3834 or email@example.com.