Wood Enterprise Institute students outperform outstandingly
June 23, 2021
The Wood Enterprise Institute (WEI), SBIO’s hands-on learning experience course designed to give students insight into running a business, had to shut down their sales website earlier than planned due to the fast pace of orders placed. The students of the WEI are taught to be responsible for all aspects of conducting a business, from brainstorming a wood product to designing and executing a marketing and sales plan around that product. Students have to learn how to execute the organizational and work skills that are necessary to run a business during their attempt to make a profit in this two-semester course. However, due to factors beyond the students’ control, the WEI spring semester class of 2021, failed to make a profit, and instead, lost over $400 in the key-rack enterprise.
The product this year was a football shaped key-rack with one of three Hokie symbols engraved in the center. The key-rack design was meant to capture the eye of Virginia Tech football enthusiasts and was well-suited to fit any VT themed space. The hand-crafted product filled a unique niche in the market as the only HokieBird key-rack available. Customers were able to customize their key-rack by selecting between three wood species (Red Oak, roasted Red Oak, or Sycamore), three Hokie logos (HokieBird, HokieBird head, or HokieBird feet), and two hook colors (gold or silver). A limited-edition key-rack made from a fallen Sycamore from Henderson Lawn which displayed a rare wood texture was also available.
A successful marketing campaign accompanied the launch of this product, and after opening the web-based sales outlet in February, the students quickly realized the popularity of their key-rack. However, as the licensing agreement with Virginia Tech included a $2,500 revenue limit, sales had to be shut down on March 30, 2021 after selling 53 units for a total of $2,463. This limitation on the revenues did not allow the students to distribute the fixed costs over enough units to make the enterprise profitable, resulting into a loss of $401. Other problems identified by the students included the over-buying of materials to the point of having left-over stock, a production process that had to be revisited several times during the semester, and delays in packaging.
However, the main objective of this class, which was to offer SBIO students the opportunity for experiential learning through running a business, was indeed accomplished.
The Wood Enterprise Institute is always looking for committed students of all backgrounds to participate in this class. For more information on the Wood Enterprise Institute visit our GobblerConnect page at https://gobblerconnect.vt.edu/organization/wei. If you or someone you know is interested, please speak with your academic advisor or contact Urs Buehlmann at email@example.com.