An effort that began with a group of students seeking a way to give back to local businesses has grown into the MSP Small Business Case Competition, a contest between select teams of Carlson School of Management MBA students.
This year, 12 teams were given one week to digest the details of a business and make marketing recommendations, presenting them to a panel of judges comprising community consultants, Carlson School alumni, and company representatives.
The company— St. Paul-based BevSource— offered students the challenge of creating consumer-facing marketing strategy for a beverage company that typically does business-to-business work with small beverage startups.
“The students’ market research was incredibly beneficial and creative,” said BevSource Executive Administrator Rita Anfinson. “It was an excellent networking opportunity not only for the students, but for us to meet future professionals in the field.”
Competition spokeswoman Angela Wittrock believes these contests can be as meaningful as larger, national counterparts: “The small local scale means that we can give back to our community and work with business owners who are actually engaged with the case.”
In addition to serving as an incubator of ideas for businesses, the competition provides students with opportunities to practice real-life skills.
“The experience allows you to spend some time delving into a complex case,” said MBA candidate Sarah Johnson, whose team has won the competition in back-to back years. “Win or lose, every team is benefitting from the opportunity to use concepts from the classroom in a friendly environment to address real business challenges.”