By: Rose Rucoba – Staff Writer
UD’s business plan competition, Flyer Pitch, has accepted two students from the Nanjing Xiaozhuang University in China to participate for the first time this 2015-16 academic year. These students competed in the final round of the competition on March 5.
Flyer Pitch is a three-round competition where students get to pitch their business ideas to judges, and if they can get through the rounds, have the opportunity win cash and launch their ideas into the business market.
Round one happened in October of last year. This round is known as the “elevator pitch,” where participants are given one minute to pitch their idea to judges.
Keith Lamping took first place during that round and won $1,500 for his SlapWrap, an efficient powerlifting support strap.
The second round took place in November, and the final round took place on March 5 at Miriam Hall in the O’Leary Auditorium.
Winners will not be announced until April.
This year, UD’s China Institute held an inaugural Entrepreneurship in China competition that students from various universities in China were welcome to participate in. Xu Fei and Wang Hongdan’s team was chosen to advance from among 58 competitors.
Their business pitch is a wedding cartoon designer.
“China has a huge wedding market, but lack of innovation. We combine animation and weddings to create lasting memories of milestones in people’s lives,” Wang said.
Wang is a business and English major, and Xu is an animation major.
Wang spoke for the two of them during the interview, since Xu does not speak English. Both seemed happy to be part of the competition.
“We are so excited because it is our first time in the U.S., and we are the first Chinese team in this competition,” Wang said.
Wang and Xu’s success and enjoyment in the competition prompts a question: Why choose to involve students from China now?
Vincent Lewis, director of the L. William Crotty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership described the decision in an email interview with Flyer News.
He explained it is becoming more and more critical to be able to function in an international market and that broadening the competition would help give students more resources and experience, as well as heighten the competition.
“Understanding how to do business internationally has become a critical component of any business executive’s or entrepreneur’s skill set,” Lewis said.
Jia Jia Wei, J.D., director of China Initiatives, also commented on UD’s decision to include Chinese students:
“I think that one of the reasons why UD decided to host an entrepreneurship-in-China track of the business plan competition at the UD China Institute is because entrepreneurship is a hot topic in Chinese higher education at the moment, and we wanted to provide students from our partnership institutions with an opportunity to showcase their ideas on an American-style platform.”
Wei also explained Flyer Pitch provides a different kind of business platform that Chinese students are not used to.
She said in China, there are business plan competitions, but they are very formal and require competitors to submit a full business proposal, instead of the more creative approach through the business competition.
“As such, such a competition is able to expose students to entrepreneurship in way that they may have never had exposure to,” Wei said.
Welcoming the students from China to participate benefits students like Wang and Xu, as well as American UD students.
Lewis said the partnership enables domestic students to be open to what the Chinese market has to offer and to the Chinese culture—something Wang and Xu proudly displayed, as they left O’Leary Auditorium in traditional Chinese garb.
Wang and Xu are in good company, too. Lewis explained that there are many international students that compete in Flyer Pitch.
In fact, 21 percent of teams that pitched at the first round were international teams.
Lewis said he believes such a high volume of international students choose to compete because they are presented with resources and capital and have the opportunity to actually launch their business ideas.
As to the future of Flyer Pitch and international business students, Lewis said that UD will continue to include students from the China Institute, but would like to expand the invitation to other cities in China, other countries in Asia, Europe and Central and South America.
“Our vision is to create a truly global competition, that culminates with a final round made up of teams from UD’s campus and all over the world,” Lewis stated. “This would provide a significant international learning opportunity for all of our students and would continue to position the University of Dayton as a national and global leader in entrepreneurship education.”
Lewis’ vision for the future might be starting to come true, based on Wang and Xu’s smiles as Wang talked about their experience.
“We appreciate that UD gives us this opportunity to be here, and that we have learned a lot about how to start our business,” Wang said. “That’s the important thing.”
Follow @FlyerNews in April to catch the announcement of this year’s Flyer Pitch winners.
Photo: Fifty-eight teams from Chinese universities participated in the first Entrepreneurship in China competition at UD’s China Institute. Photo courtesy of UD Media Relations.