Whiteboard business project inspired by a desire to help students

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by Marielle Payton

Each year, Cedarville University’s Integrated Business Core gives students the opportunity to produce, present, and market a business plan. This one-year program runs through the spring semester, during which students take marketing principles, and the fall semester, during which they take finance principles and organizational management principles. These three courses, spread over two semesters, offer students the opportunity to simulate the business process from development to production. Throughout this process, students learn useful and applicable skills and gain real-life experience that is easily transferable to the workplace after graduation. Finally, they will present their business plan for approval to an alumni council and obtain funding for their project.

Caleb Miller was inspired to start his whiteboard business, Without card, after struggling to study effectively in his crowded dorm. After talking to a wide range of students on campus, he noticed that this issue of cluttered study space was a recurring problem. Due to the lack of space to study properly, the students found it difficult to concentrate and do their work.

In conversations with campus students and classmates, he realized that this problem only affected nursing and nursing students, whose courses often required them to write long paragraphs of information to the hand. While this whiteboard product is useful for everyone, Miller says he designed it with them in mind.

“We really wanted to improve the workplace for students, faculty and professionals,” Miller said in an email. “Many students have expressed concern that normal whiteboards are bulky and in the way, and other media like sticky notes or scrap paper are small and not reusable. Therefore, we saw the need for reusable, portable and practical products that can easily accommodate a desk or workspace.

Large dry-erase whiteboards are available to all students at the Cedarville campus library, but there are not many of them and they are quickly requested and used. Miller hopes to market his product to the library and convince it to purchase some for student use and easy access. The whiteboard product it plans to produce is “an adaptable, portable and reusable whiteboard alternative called Lite-Board which sells for $12.99”.

Lite-Board is a miniature version of this large whiteboard: it is a small rectangular dry-erase laminated plastic sheet, portable, flexible and space-saving. It is non-adhesive and can easily stick to any surface, but it leaves no residue. This unique product is in short supply in today’s US market, but is more prevalent overseas.

The prototype on which Miller bases his product was imported from China. He is excited to pioneer a version of this idea for US markets and is working hard to turn this dream into reality. It definitely has the potential to take off.

Once Miller and his team had an idea in mind of the type of product they wanted to create, they went through the steps to determine if such a project was feasible. To get the loan and use the funds available to IBC students, they came up with a marketing plan.

First, they did a financial assessment, doing a cost-benefit analysis, considering shipping costs and comparing that to the estimated number of units they could sell. It has been encouraging for him and his team to see the practical use of the concepts they learned in class. Financial evaluation of a product they are about to launch in real time has given them a new appreciation for all that their major has to offer.

Their teachers have been there with them every step of the way, offering constructive criticism and genuinely wanting to see them succeed. Thanks to this, Miller and his team were able to come before the committee and propose Without card for approval or denial and received approval on the product on the condition that it make some changes.

They plan to start selling in mid-October. Based on their research, they decided to order and sell 400 units to start and see how demand goes up and down. All of their proceeds will go to a charity named Back2Back, an orphan care ministry that focuses on holistic outreach to vulnerable children and their communities. In addition to donating all of their profits to Back2Back, Miller and his team will also each complete 10 hours of volunteer work at the end of their business project.

Whether it’s helping students study better, donating to charity, or volunteering, Miller and the Integrated Business Core show what it means to have a plan and purpose to give back to their community in every possible way.

Marielle Payton is a sophomore from Vienna, Virginia, just outside of Washington, D.C. Besides writing, she also enjoys figure skating, learning new languages, and reading old comic books.

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