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Miami students get real world experience in helping lead a business through a pandemic

Students enrolled in entrepreneurial consulting, the capstone course for the entrepreneurship major at the University of Miami Patti and Allan Herbert Business School, got more than what they expected in the way of experiential learning during the spring semester.

The team, which includes entrepreneurship majors Ian Gelerman, Cameron Gresham, Emily Mosgowsky, and Ben Smith, was assigned Smokey Bones, a full-service restaurant with 61 locations across 16 states, as their client. In working with their Smokey Bones contacts—Nicole Milnthorpe, CFO and Miami Herbert Business School ’00 alumna, and Danielle Guzzetta, Senior Vice-President of Growth Hacking—the students were tasked with a consulting project that focused on Smokey Bones’ launch and expansion into a partnership at a professional sporting arena. 

The students were working on their client deliverables and were ready to begin wrapping up their recommendations upon their return from spring break when classes shifted to remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This semester has been tough on everyone,” said Susy Alvarez-Diaz, a senior lecturer who has taught the entrepreneurial class for the last 12 years. “I touched base with the clients at the onset of quarantine, knowing they all had more pressing matters to attend to. All nine clients wanted to continue working with the students. At that moment I knew my students were going to be tested like never before and unprecedented learning was about to come out of this semester.”

 

The smokey bones team

The Smokey Bones team got to work and took a very hard pivot for their client, putting aside the original scope of the project and starting from scratch on a strategy to navigate through the pandemic. “The student consultants have done so much for us and I will add, not under normal, nor easy circumstances. Talk about real-time crisis business marketing,” said Danielle Guzzetta, senior vice-president of Smokey Bones, adding that some of ideas developed by the students will be featured on their social channels in the coming weeks.

“We are hopeful that our partnership through this pandemic has provided a sense of real life consulting,” shared Nicole Milnthorpe, CFO of Smokey Bones.  

Team members describe the experience as a positive and empowering one.

“Our work consisted of identifying business concepts and objectives, describing key target markets, defining product descriptions, developing marketing strategies, and creating advertising and sales promotions for the two key revenue drivers we identified to thrive through the pandemic—the Smokey Bones Alcohol Plan (the Smokey Booze Cocktail Kit) and the Smokey Bones Meal Plan (the Bones at Home Meal Kit),” said Smith.

Gelerman said it was “eye-opening to witness how the pandemic affected Smokey Bones and as ‘Canes we felt doubly obligated to develop creative ideas that would allow them to stand out.”

Mosgowsky said the pandemic resulted in a “wild ending” to the semester, but the real-life work with their client provided invaluable experience.

“We are thankful to Smokey Bones for putting the time into working with us, allowing us to get creative, collaborative, and believing in our ideas,” Mosgowsky shared.

Miami Herbert Business School profile
Video channel Miami Herbert Business School