Business Innovation Group (BIG)
Parker College of Business


BIG Client Spotlight: Five Hives and Vines

Five Hives & Vines recently won a Silver award at the American Advertising Awards (ADDYs) presented by the American Advertising Federation of Augusta. FabLab Director and Graphic Design Professor Santanu Majumdar incorporated the project into a class project where students created bottle labels that will be utilized to market the meadery’s signature creations.

Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art (BFSDoArt) student Elaina Frampton designed the logo. The senior graphic design student’s logo was not selected as the first choice for Five Hives & Vine’s main line of mead but was instead chosen to be used as the design for a “special offering” mead, such as a seasonal line. Frampton created the design herself, and Majumdar assisted in creating the physical prototype for the competition.

Five Hives & Vines is owned by Eric and Debbie Van Otteren, along with their son and daughter-in-law, Zach and Brooke Van Otteren, and friends Wes and Ashley Vanmeter. The company hopes to begin Statesboro operation later this year. The group intends to open a meadery with an event center and pick-your-own berry farm. There will also be beehives on the property that will be utilized to harvest and sell local honey products.

Business confidence is strong, but headwinds are present

Georgia business leaders have confidence that business is improving, but also have growing concerns over hiring and employment, according to the 2018 fourth-quarter (Q4) survey results by Georgia CEO, a news source that shares the state’s most important features, videos and newswires with Georgia’s top business leaders. 

The purpose of the survey is to get the pulse of Georgia CEO subscribers on a quarterly basis in order to better understand how general business conditions are affecting Georgia markets and companies. The survey asks participants to reflect on and analyze the conditions of the current quarter while looking forward to and anticipating challenges in the next quarter. The news outlet partners with Georgia Southern University Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER) to prepare and analyze the survey. 

Looking toward Q1 of 2019, 51 percent of survey respondents believed the volume of business will increase but anticipate that sales will remain stable over this same time frame. At the same time, only 26 percent of respondents believed hiring conditions would improve, while 34 percent noted that the financial health of companies is improving. Hiring and keeping the right employees will be the key to many of these companies making the most of their opportunities.

“If we look at the overall impression of the current environment, we see that respondents are confident about the growth of business moving forward,” said Ben McKay, CBAER assistant director. “At the same time, we did see a drop in confidence between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019. This could be related to the news about the partial government shutdown because our data was collected in January during this event.

When asked about the factors influencing the responses and decisions by survey participants, 28.5 percent said an increase in business demand had the biggest influence, while government policy was close behind at 25.8 percent, followed by concerns over competition for supplies at 11.8 percent. These answers point to favorable sentiment toward business conditions for the upcoming quarter.

A convenience sampling technique was used for this study, and the questionnaires were emailed to subscribers of each of the 12 Georgia CEO daily newsletters. Georgia CEO publishes newsletters in Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Middle Georgia, Newnan, Rome, Savannah, Tifton and Valdosta. The survey was open from January 8-28, with 208 valid responses recorded.

Student Spotlight: 3DS Winners, Ghost Runner, to Represent GS at Georgia Inventure Prize

Georgia Southern’s Business Innovation Group hosted its annual 3 Day Startup (3DS) competition February 22-25. 3DS is a world-renowned program that brings together individuals from various backgrounds in a learning-by-doing environment to give students the tools needed to start successful companies. Students talk about ideas and form teams on Friday and work on bringing those ideas to life by Sunday evening.

On Monday, February 25, the competition culminated with a “Shark Tank” pitch competition. Six teams pitched ideas including aquaponics, a speeding device, bags made from textile waste, peer-to-peer lending, roommate matching, and a running app.

Panelists, consisting of members of the University Intellectual Property (IP) committee, chose “Ghost Runner” as the idea that made the most progress over such a short period of time.

Panelist and Professor of History and Director of Digital Humanities Robert Batchelor said of the app, “Ghost Runner seemed scalable. I really liked the idea that it solved a problem of messy apps for this on the market AND was something that small businesses, running tournaments, etc., could rely upon as an app solution to marketing.” 

Overall, he said, “I thought all of the students were extremely articulate, highly motivated, and [presented] clever ideas.” 

The winning team includes four College of Engineering & Computing students: 

Marcus Joachim, Computer Science // Wyatt Landers, Computer Science // Jacob Poston, Computer Science // Shadrach Stark, Mechanical Engineering 

The team also included three College of Arts and Humanities students:

Zee Doehling, Graphic Design // Thomas Martin, Graphic Design // Michael McFarland, International Studies

“Ghost Runner” will work with the Business Innovation Group (BIG) to prepare to represent Georgia Southern at the inaugural Georgia Inventure Prize Competition. Each college and university in the state was invited to send one team to Atlanta to compete April 3-4. The top five finalists will present via live GPB broadcast and streaming, with up to $50,000 in cash prizes and in-kind professional services.

“3DS was like entering an alternate reality because I’d get there early to start working an our business pitch and next thing I’d know an entire day went by without me even noticing,” Zee Doehling stated.

UGA SBDC to speak at annual painter’s conference

In the month of March, the UGA Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Georgia Southern will be speaking at an annual painter’s conference as it visits Savannah this year. The Painting and Decorating Contractors of America (PDCA) is a national trade association which will be bringing in members from throughout our nation to learn best business practices.

John Myers, SBDC business consultant, will be speaking to the PDCA members, along with his Savannah associate, Chase Cowart, about person-to-person sales. The session titled, “Buying Personas and Sales Types: Identifying the Types of Buyers and the Types of Salespersons, Making a Match and Closing the Sale” is about differences in communication and decision-making methods between buyers and sellers. Often when there is a mismatch, a seller is unable to adjust to a buyer’s needs with the result being frayed relations, inadequate delivery of necessary information, and ultimately, lost sales. There are methods to prepare for these situations so that the salesperson can make adjustments which align with the buyer and facilitate a better experience and higher closing rates.

For sales and marketing related concerns as well as for other business issues which are holding a company from reaching its potential, the UGA SBDC at Georgia Southern is a resource to explore.

Students Spotlight

On the weekend of Jan. 25-27, Sandbox Communities, in partnership with HackGT, hosted its first-ever statewide collegiate competition, the inaugural “Collegiate Cup.” Open to student teams from Georgia colleges and universities, the cup featured three categories: coding, case study and design. The challenge asked students “to improve the quality of life in Georgia by leveraging the state’s strengths.” Nineteen teams representing nine Georgia colleges competed for the $750 category champion prize as well as the $250 category People’s Choice prize. At the end of the competition, the teams presented to different judging panels which included peer voting, and winners for each category were announced.

Georgia Southern had the honor of sending two teams to the competition – “The Baconators,” comprised of students Marin Coleman, Zee Doehling, Yvette Gallardo and Trenton Reese, along with “Cactus Juice,” composed of students Deeanna Lyn, Soleil Collins, Thomas Martin and Imani McCants. The students were accompanied by associate professor of graphic design, Santanu Majumdar. Both teams participated in the design category, where they were asked to develop a creative solution to a problem faced by Georgians. The overall winners of the cup were a coding group who developed a website aimed at introducing elementary aged girls to the coding profession in a fun and interactive way so as to promote women interest in a primarily male-dominated profession.

Zee Doehling of “The Baconators” said, “I have never had that much fun brainstorming and really trying to get to the root of the problem before. It was a lot of fun being able to make the project our own, too, because there weren’t any guidelines or formats required. We were really able to solve whatever problem we wanted to tackle and take it in any design direction we wanted.”

The teams had an impressive showing at the competition, and despite the fact that they may have returned home without a prize, the Collegiate Cup allowed the students an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from a variety of Georgia schools as well as expand their network.