Management major Tiffany Miles, ’18, always enjoyed baking and longed to be her own boss. An entrepreneur at heart, she searched for her recipe for success.
“I had gone back and forth for several years on what I wanted to do. But whether it was ideas of opening up my own library or bookstore, I have always loved baking. It always came back to that,” said Miles.
During the fall semester, Miles of Lincoln, Nebraska, began to test out an idea she had for a bakery, now known as HoneyBee Baking Co., in her Business Plan Development and Decision Making (MNGT 423) course. She identified a need in bakeries to provide customers a variety of different desserts in smaller, more accessible portions.
“After talking with people as part of the class, I found a lot of them said they would be open and interested in a new bakery and that they would go to it. After learning there was an opportunity, the idea snowballed from there,” she explained.
Seeing customer discovery as a crucial step in entrepreneurship, Dr. Sam Nelson, director of the center and assistant professor of practice in management, designed the course to guide students through the startup process.
“Most haven’t gone through the customer discovery process, what that means and how to do it. People across the globe come up with ideas all the time and they like it because it is their idea, but the reality is they are not the ones buying the product or service, they are providing it,” explained Nelson. “Students get a chance from the very beginning of the course to find out if they have a customer and what they are like, how do they buy things, and how to reach them, to really understand whom their customer is.”
During the course, Nelson encouraged students to enter the center’s 3-2-1 Quick Pitch competition, where they could pitch their business idea to a panel of local business leaders and entrepreneurs. Miles saw it as an opportunity to test the validity of her idea and how she plans to make it successful.
“Winning 3-2-1 Quick Pitch last November showed me my idea was good and that I thought everything through. I knew this was something I could continue with and progress, and it wasn’t just an idea for class,” said Miles.
With her confidence soaring, Nelson pushed Miles to enter the New Venture Competition, where she could potentially gain funding to help in her business endeavors. Nelson helped provide the guidance she needed to find the best possible way to present her business to the judges.
“I could tell Tiffany had the passion to start her own bakery, and she had identified something different in the market that she could capitalize on. I encouraged her and the rest of my students to utilize the resources available at Nebraska and the center’s competitions because you gain exposure from people you don’t normally get to talk to, and could potentially receive the funding that could take you to the next step,” said Nelson.
While Miles did not walk away with one of the two grand prizes of $25,000, her journey provided valuable experience.
“Regardless of the outcome, the New Venture Competition allowed me to network with business leaders, meet new people and pitch my business to seasoned business leaders, helping me hone and improve it,” she said. “Soon, starting in May we are setting up a booth and selling at the Haymarket Farmers’ Market. With the exposure there, we are looking to see if we can expand our customer base to people throughout Lincoln who might not know of us and would consider us for catering events or come back to see us at the market.”
Miles competed against 44 other teams in the New Venture Competition, held April 9 and 11. The competition’s winners include:
Grand Prize ($25,000): Hannah Esch, junior animal science major from Unadilla, Nebraska. Oak Barn Beef connects consumers to their food. They provide a unique farm-to-table experience by sharing the ranching experience on social media and selling their high quality, family farm beef directly to consumers.
Grand Prize ($25,000): Alain Mutabazi, sophomore integrated science major from Kigali, Rwanda, and Kane Wellnitz, junior agribusiness major from Chadron, Nebraska. Savannah Breeders Service provides livestock producers in East Africa access to superior livestock genetics. Their current focus is on beef and dairy cattle.
First Runner-Up ($10,000): Josh Demers, senior management major from Hordville, Nebraska. Prepare Insurance helps middle-income families with high-deductible health plans prepare for the future by offering a simplified, instant-decision critical illness insurance to cover the rising health insurance deductible.
Second Runner-Up ($7,500): Daniel Elsner, freshman supply chain management major from Plymouth, Minnesota. Vendor Labs is creating an app called Vendor, which makes it easy for people to find, order from and track their favorite street vendors and food trucks.
Thomas G. Guy Startup Team Award ($2,500): Jennifer Bogle, junior management major from Austin, Minnesota; Thu Ngan Nguyen, senior management major from Lincoln; and Jena Palmer, senior management major from Lincoln. 1-2-3 Salad brings a health focused restaurant to consumers that offers fresh and quality ingredients with a drive-thru for convenience.
To learn more about the Center for Entrepreneurship, visit: https://business.unl.edu/entrepreneurship