5 Ways an Existing Business Could Benefit a Pitch Competition

by Evie Somogyi, marketing intern and senior marketing student, Mike Cottrell College of Business

When you think of a pitch competition, you probably think of start-ups — and the show Shark Tank. However, a pitch competition isn’t solely for startups or the contestants of Shark Tank. In fact, pitch competitions pose a great opportunity for all entrepreneurs, even those with existing businesses. Here are 5 ways that your business could benefit from a pitch competition:

  1. Gain funding

Have you thought about expanding your business, but you don’t want to get a loan? A pitch competition is the perfect way for you to gain additional funding — no strings, banks, or loans attached.

  1. Rethink your business

As an entrepreneur, it is critical to keep your customer at the forefront of your mind. However, it is also easy to lose sight of your value proposition and why you do what you do. Through the pitch creation process, you will look at your business from many different angles. In turn, this will allow you to rethink the value that you are bringing to your customer — as well as why your business is in existence in the first place.

  1. Gain new mentors

The organizations that run pitch competitions are filled with potential mentors. Many of them have started businesses of their own and are willing to give advice to fellow entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the connections that your mentors have will allow you to further grow your network.

  1. Gain new perspective

As human beings, it is in our nature to surround ourselves with like-minded people. As an entrepreneur, it is important to surround yourself with many different types of people who can bring new perspectives to the table. By participating in a pitch challenge, you will meet other entrepreneurs with varying perspectives that will help you grow and evolve your business.

  1. Create some buzz

Participating in a pitch challenge creates free publicity for your business. The investment groups that hold pitch competitions also invest in media coverage. Often times, newspapers, magazines, and TV stations cover stories on pitch competitions.

Are you ready to grow and evolve your business? Enter for a chance to win $10,000: https://ung.edu/center-entrepreneurship-innovation/startitup-challenge/index.php


MBA Spotlight: Katie Bennett

Our MBA students come from a variety of backgrounds. Katie Bennett, who graduated with a degree in Psychology with a minor in Statistics, decided it was necessary to get her MBA when she got the position of Procurement Manager for Rogers Electric. She said that her “undergraduate background was not centered on business at all, and attending UNG’s MBA program has really helped me bridge that gap.”

At Rogers Electric, Katie was asked to develop the department by putting standard operating procedures in place and working with the IT department to develop a user-interface that corresponded with the needs of the new procurement department. Katie is currently managing a team of 9 people, but this number will increase as the department grows.

Now that Katie is in a business oriented career, she stated that “I wanted to make sure that I had the skills sets and knowledge necessary to become a leading professional in her field.” She said that “UNG was an obvious pick for me because of the location. Additionally, UNG’s tuition was much more reasonably priced than that of many other MBA programs offered in the area.”

In the five classes she has taken so far, Katie has had the opportunity to really get to know the MBA program staff and her classmates. She is very impressed with the welcoming and inclusive environment that the MBA program provides. Coming into the program, Katie was a bit anxious that she would be lost or fall behind because she did not have an educational business background; however, she quickly realized there are several students in the same situation as her. She mentioned that, “the professors always stay mindful that the cohort is made up of such a diverse group of people, which she feels positively impacts the group.”

The MBA has already started to help Katie in her career. Classes like Leadership, Motivation, and Operations Management have added great value to her existing skill set. These courses have allowed her to “analyze operations from a different angle.”

Katie is excited to continue her MBA journey to find out what she is passionate about. “I anticipate that these experiences within the MBA program will help me formulate a clearer goal regarding what I would like to accomplish in the future.” For now, Katie thoroughly enjoys managing a team, so she is focused on strengthening her leadership skills through the MBA program.

Cottrell MBA Spotlight: Vinay Kumar

by Evie Somogyi, marketing intern and senior marketing student, Mike Cottrell College of Business

Getting your MBA is very beneficial — even after years of experience. As manager of an IT development team at General Motors, Vinay Kumar decided to get his MBA after 18 years in the field. Throughout his career, Vinay worked across multiple geographies, roles, and functions. As Vinay’s career progressed into managerial roles, he found that, “although I had been exposed to broad perspectives and paradigms that helped to strengthen my management skills, I still felt that he was missing a stamp of academia from his career resume.”

In his current management role at General Motors, Vinay’s team supports GM’s Customer Relationship Management Systems for GM business teams, GM dealers, as well as external third-party CRM providers. GM’s CRM systems allows GM to run targeted promotions and GM dealers to review customers’ vehicle service history before they show up for service. As a result, they provide better customer service by knowing their customers.

Vinay chose the Cottrell MBA for a number of reasons. Vinay said that, “UNG provided me so the perfect opportunity to access an accredited school — in close proximity — with a flexible class schedule to fit my busy life.” After talking to alumni, attending orientation, and going through the curriculum, Vinay knew that he had found a “hidden gem in North Georgia.” To top it off, “GM provides a strong employee development program that offers tuition support — which made it an opportune time to enrich my education.”

 Vinay’s first two semesters have proved that he made the best decision by choosing the Cottrell MBA. He said that, “the overall experience has been very rewarding, both academically and for broader professional networking.” His classes have given him a different perspective and he has found that, “the MBA academic content is practical and teaches skills and concepts that you can implement right away.” Vinay used his leadership course as an example when describing how beneficial his courses have been. He said the course, “was not just a conceptual discussion about what a good leader should be, but rather an active encouragement to find the leader in yourself.”

Though he is only through his first few semesters, Vinay has already gained knowledge from his courses that he can implement simultaneously into his current role as IT manager. He said that, ”project management and leadership courses have direct application to what I do on day-to-day basis at work. The leadership course in particular helped me identify my specific traits and behaviors which I am able to channel through my leadership style.” As someone in the technology field, Vinay is planning to pursue the Specialization in Technology Leadership.

Vinay views his MBA journey as a “holistic experience” that has encompassed strong academic values, personal growth, and networking opportunities. He has enjoyed being able to network with students from a variety of different backgrounds. With the opportunity to work on group projects, Vinay has gotten to hear new perspectives. Furthermore, he has been able, “to learn about other people’s domains, the challenges they face, and how they solve them.”

Going forward, Vinay has made it his priority to apply everything that he has learned to his current role. He would also like to carry forward the networking connections that he has gained through the program, and give back to the UNG local community as opportunities arise.

For more information on the Cottrell MBA, visit http://ung.edu/mba.

Should I Get an Accredited MBA?

You’ve decided to get your MBA. Now you have to choose your school. Some MBA programs are AACSB-accredited, while others are not. So should you get an accredited MBA? Does the AACSB seal of approval really matter?

The short answer is — yes — it definitely matters. Here is why:

Employers will not only ask you if you have an MBA, but where you received your MBA from. Therefore, a school with a good reputation is essential to maintaining the value of your degree.

Furthermore, if you want the most bang for your buck, “AACSB-accredited schools have the highest-quality faculty, deliver relevant and challenging curriculum, and provide educational and career opportunities that are not found at other business schools” (AACSB).

Choosing an AACSB-accredited MBA means that you not only took the initiative to get your MBA, but you also challenged yourself by choosing a school that meets the highest academic standards in the industry.

The accreditation process comprises of an extensive review of the school and program offerings. The AACSB’s requirements are very stringent. As a result, “Less than 5 percent of the more than 16,000 schools worldwide granting business degrees have earned AACSB Accreditation” (AACSB). Therefore, only the best business schools in the world get accredited.

For AACSB approval, a business school must encourage and support ethical behavior, a collegiate environment, commitment to corporate and social responsibility, sustainability, and continuous improvement — while maintaining high academic standards.

An AACSB-Accredited MBA degree not only looks great to a potential employer, it also signifies that you received the highest standard of education possible. As a future MBA student, don’t sell yourself short. You deserve the best quality education! Choose an AACSB-Accredited MBA program to ensure that your school of choice upholds the highest of standards.

For more information on AASCB Accrediation visit: http://bestbizschools.aacsb.edu/aacsb-accredited

Cottrell MBA Spotlight: James Welch

In the Cottrell MBA program, we have working professionals that come from a variety of companies, including James Welch, Master Data Lead at The Coca-Cola Company.

James is currently a contract employee in charge of coordinating data loads with the Coke One North America team to ensure that all data is accurately loaded in SAP. He also works with bottlers to understand their data requirements. Furthermore, he creates cross company project plans and ensures that project milestones are complete and in alignment with the master transition plan.

James decided to pursue an MBA for both personal and professional development. When asked why he chose UNG, he replied, “as a busy working professional, who is still seeking a classroom environment, the Cottrell MBA was a perfect fit. The campus is within twenty minutes of my home, and classes are held twice a week, minimizing the days I take away from my home life.” James also knew several of the past graduates and he witnessed the value that the MBA added to their career.

Thus far, James has had a very positive experience with the Cottrell MBA program. His professors have been very good at taking the material and applying it in real world settings. He has gained a lot of value from group projects that “apply skill sets in real world situations.” He is also finding a new perspective when it comes to courses like accounting, which he thought to be fairly dry as an undergraduate. His professor, Dr. Best, was great at getting his accounting class engaged in the material.

When we asked James how he has been able to utilize what he has learned so far, a particular class stood out to him: Leadership. While taking Dr. Walker’s class, James was able to take away many new skills and insights on how to engage with different people. He has used his new skills “to build on his relationships and strengthen his ability to motivate across different company teams.” He now has an increased understanding of their “different motivations as well as the objectives they are operating under.”

In addition to the classroom experience, Welch is thankful for the networking opportunities he’s found through the Cottrell MBA. Beyond just the various networking opportunities available through the MBA, James has built new relationships with his classmates, providing different viewpoints, and networking with the College’s professors. Dr. Ruben Boling, director of the College’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is helping him develop his personal brand.

After graduation, James hopes to continue to grow his career. In the short term, he is seeking a position as a planning manager or a supply chain manager. In the long term, he hopes to continue his education and potentially teach at the collegiate level one day. James believes that his “MBA will help to continue to open new doors.”