Top BU Core Teams Present New Product Projects

Questrom School of Business Hosts 2015 Core New Product Challenge

You’re on a business trip, the big meeting is tomorrow, and you realize your shirt has more wrinkles than you can count. What now? A team of students at Boston University Questrom School of Business has your answer.

On April 6, nine students took home first prize in the 17th Core New Product Challenge for their presentation of a new compact laundry device. The Challenge is the culmination of SM323, also known as “The Core,” one of the key elements differentiating Questrom’s undergraduate curriculum. The Core integrates a set of four functional courses—marketing, operations, finance, and analytics—into a one-semester sequence through a common semester-long project focused on new product or service development.

Designed to simulate a real-world environment, it allows students to work in teams and requires each to design a new product by assessing customer needs and markets, develop marketing plans to sell it, develop operations processes, and understand the risks involved in implementing and financing.

“The Challenge is the cornerstone of the course and has been designed to allow student teams to develop an integrated plan for a new product launch,” says Jonathan D. Hibbard, assistant professor of marketing and faculty lead of Interdisciplinary Core. “It provides an opportunity for some of the best Core projects of the past year to present and defend their semester of research and hard work to a panel of judges.”

Each year, Core faculty nominate projects from about 80 plans for review by the sponsor—this year’s was Imagitas, a Pitney Bowes company dedicated to innovative lifestage marketing services—who then selects three finalists based on how well each team’s plan displayed the analysis of their research during the semester, not on the product idea itself.

The three finalist teams were FlyDry, the FLOW-ER Pot (a self-watering plant pot), and the Safe Walk (a rollator with an embedded light system and a compact headlight), each of which made their pitch to the judges and answered follow-up questions. Giving them a high rating for both presentation and Q&A, the judges awarded first place to the FlyDry team, who received gift cards, framed certificates, and their team’s product name on the Challenge trophy.

FlyDry is a small appliance—but a big solution—for consumers who don’t have time to do laundry, or need to freshen up a shirt away from home. It dries individual articles of clothing quickly and without wrinkles. Unlike a bulky, traditional dryer, it saves space and time, and is a more convenient than heading to a local laundromat, if you can find one. The team designed FlyDry for both at-home and on-the-road use.

Justyn Huang (Questrom’15), one of the creators of FlyDry, said the Challenge offered an important lesson in both collaboration and trust.

“The project taught me more about myself, how to interact with others, and how to adapt to different team environments when needed,” said Huang. “It showed me the importance of trusting each other and pulling your own weight when needed, since others put their trust in you as well.”

Along with Huang, the FlyDry team included Joseph Benoit, Sarah Buechler, Maria Valentina Fajardo Delgado, Jason Gan, Yiping Gu, Nathalie Langlois, Quang Lê, and Robin Ye, who were advised by faculty members Keith Osher, Rakesh Pandey, Giorgos Zervas, and Stephanie Watts.

Photo by Melissa Ostrow for Boston University Photography. From left: Robin Ye, Joseph Benoit, Christopher Hall (SVP, Digital, Imagitas), Yiping Gu, Greg Collier (Lecturer, Strategy & Innovation), Valentina Fajardo, Paul McManus (Senior Lecturer, Strategy & Innovation), Quang Le, and Justyn Huang

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