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BSC business students spend January launching successful businesses

BSC business students spend January launching successful businesses

For Immediate Release
Feb. 2, 2018

Entrepreneurship course gives seniors hands-on startup experience

BA 499 students

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Student-run businesses that made tacos, refinished furniture, and cooked pound cakes were the winners of BSC’s annual Bruno Capstone Entrepreneurship Competition, the college announced Thursday, Feb. 1.

The competition comes at the completion of Business Administration 499, Birmingham-Southern College’s senior capstone class in entrepreneurship, in which business majors have four weeks to brainstorm a business, create a plan, and execute it. The course occurs each year during the school’s January Exploration Term.

Teams begin with seed money of $500 each and are judged on profit, innovation, and business plan. For the January 2018 course, students launched eight teams and brought in a record-high overall profit of $14,304.04. The funds will be used to upgrade furniture in business classrooms.

For the finalé of the course, the teams presented their results for evaluation by a more than a dozen Birmingham-Southern alumni and other local business leaders, including William Nicrosi ’90, an investment consultant at Leavell Investment Management; Trey Echols ’96, president and CEO of Highlands Associates; Megan LaRussa Chenoweth’08, founder of Megan LaRussa Style Yourself Chic; Doug Bates ’00, shareholder at Clark Partington in Pensacola, Fla.; Greg Tapscott ’94, vice president of finance for Uniti Fiber; and Greg King ’96, associate vice president of Iberia Bank.

The course is designed for students interested in becoming or working with entrepreneurs, and is unusual because it allows students to build a business themselves rather than just read about someone else’s experience in a textbook, said BSC Dean of Business Programs and Director of the BSC Entrepreneurship Program Dr. Sara Robicheaux ’97.

“Typically, in academia, students are asked to regurgitate business theories they have learned within a course and then they’re evaluated on the gaps a professor finds in their knowledge of that material,” Robicheaux said. “Instead, this project allows students to be confronted with real problems and opportunities they will be exposed to in the business world. They must learn throughout the project to evaluate and adapt to consumers’ needs and wants in the marketplace.”

Students called the course the most difficult and most rewarding of their college careers.

“I learned more than I ever could have imagined,” said senior Sarah Light, a member of the soup delivery team Steel City Soups. “I learned I have a passion for sales and running a business and I learned about a possible career path for myself. I am so grateful for this experience.”

“I appreciated the resources we had at our disposal from the professors, and I think the course gave me a realistic idea of what life as an entrepreneur can be like and all the opportunities there are,” said Drew McDonagh, a member of the décor team Restore & Rejoice. “It made me want to look into a career in a startup and maybe one day consider opening my own.”

The winners of the contest were:

  • Open Door Tacos, which sold fresh authentic tacos, a unique avocado sauce, and Mexican Coca-Cola, made a profit of $2,972.05 and won the Kevin R. Stump Entrepreneurship Award, given to the team that demonstrated an innovative idea, a strong marketing strategy, a thorough business plan, and a strong profit. (Find them at
  • Restore & Rejoice, which set up an on-campus studio to refinish and reupholster furniture for clients and create ready-made frames, jewelry holders, and other décor, made a profit of $2,071.27 and won the Wayne W. Killion Innovation Award, presented to the team with the most distinct, viable, and sustainable business idea. (Find them at
  • Sweet Tooth, which baked pound cakes and mini Bundt cakes in seven flavors from a secret family recipe, made a profit of $3,140 and won the Philip C. Jackson Jr. Profit award for the team with the highest profit. (Find them at

The other teams were:

  • Covent, a sports event company;
  • Grab N Go, which sold quick breakfasts in front of the student center;
  • Magic City Chocolate Co., offering chocolate sauce, which is now being featured in the fried Oreo dessert at Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint in Lakeview;
  • Steel City Soups, which delivered heat and eat soups and was featured on the website; and
  • Those Guys, which resold thrifted and vintage clothing and other items.