Florida Tech students won first place in the IACBE Spring 2022 Live Case Competition for their business plan involving the Ohio-based pizza restaurant company Donatos.
The competition was offered in conjunction with the annual conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) in Costa Mesa, California. It featured seven university teams challenged to develop a business strategy for Donatos that would build brand awareness and relevance among the 10- to 25-year-old demographic known as Gen Z.
The teams spent five weeks in March and April researching and applying best practices across marketing, social media communications, finance and corporate social responsibility. They also had the opportunity to meet directly with the Donatos marketing team and a franchise owner to understand the company and its strategy. The Florida Tech team also visited an Orlando Donatos to experience the company’s signature 100-piece pepperoni pizza.
Florida Tech’s team of Daniel Aizenberg, Farran Barker, Joshua Brathwaite and Nolan DeMayo produced a three-point plan: enhance the Donatos reward program (renamed ARK for Acts of Random Kindness to focus on customers and the community); offer Instagram and Discord social media campaigns; and introduce a cryptocurrency “round-up” investing program using the RoundlyX tool.
“All the students are finance majors, so they had to stretch themselves to develop creative marketing recommendations,” said advisor Tim Muth, Bisk College of Business faculty.
Across two live presentations at the conference April 6, the Florida Tech team offered compelling stories representing their plan: Grandparents’ Day pizza using the reward program, Cleveland Browns football games and flash sales, and investing with the round-up program.
The winning announcement was made after the conference keynote address so everyone in attendance heard that Florida Tech’s team won the competition, Muth noted, adding that the students received congratulations from many well-wishers throughout the day.
One of the judges was so impressed with the presentation that he contacted one of the Florida Tech students, Muth said. They are now discussing potential internship opportunities.
“As a business program accreditor, IACBE works to provide opportunities for students to participate in real-life business situations as an integral part of their education. The case study competition is a unique way for students to hone their critical thinking and communication skills in preparation for a career in business,” said Phyllis Okrepkie, vice president of operations for IACBE and an adjunct faculty member at Florida Tech who attended the conference. “As an IACBE staff member and faculty member, I am incredibly proud of the work that the Florida Tech team did to win the 2022 CapSource-IACBE Case Study competition.”
“Experiential learning is an important way to gain real gain life experience for these students looking to soon enter the business world. At the same time, this was a great opportunity for our brand to connect with this age group and gain their perspective on how we could better attract Gen Z to the Donatos brand,” said Carol Pasquariello, senior vice president of marketing for Donatos and one of the competition judges. “We have gained some valuable insight through this process thanks to all the teams. Specifically, though, the team from Florida Tech did an outstanding job conveying new ideas, identified SMART goals and showcased professional presentation skills. Their attention to detail included a trip to a franchise-partner-owned Donatos to do first-hand research on the brand. Congratulations to them on a job well done.”
Jordan Levy, executive director of CapSource, the education technology company that partners with IACBE schools including Florida Tech and coordinates IACBE’s live case competitions, said the experiential learning at the core of the case competition is such a powerful element of higher education.
“We’d like to commend Tim Muth and his team from Florida Tech for winning the Spring Live Case Competition,” Levy said. “After several years of working on similar Live Cases with True Religion Jeans, Coinsource, Genuino and NextGen, it’s no surprise that the students from Florida Tech have been able to improve their performance year over year, proving that with hard work and tactful mentorship, these students can set themselves apart as they develop best-in-class final deliverables that truly highlight their capabilities and competencies as emerging business leaders.”