May 09, 2018
Students in the Sigmund Weis School of Business wrapped up a semester-long capstone project recently that helped an emerging business transform from concept to strategy.
In thinking about projects for her capstone entrepreneurship student, Emma Fleck, associate professor of management, happened to meet Jeff Kay and Shawn Preisz, owners of Pinpoint Robotics at Iron Front, a local co-working space. They were looking for direction for their fledgling drone company in Lewisburg, Pa. With full-time jobs of their own, Kay and Preisz hadn't been able to devote the time necessary for the company to take flight.
It was a perfect match. In Fleck's Entrepreneurial Experience class, student teams create, manage and run an organization. The Pinpoint team, consisting of six students, quickly determined that Pinpoint would not be able to compete with other regional drone companies on affordability and accessibility in certain projects such as construction site inspection or building mapping.
Suddenly, the students who had volunteered for the Pinpoint team, were stumped.
"When we looked at the competition in the area, we didn't know where to go," admitted senior finance major Kevin Flatley, of Drexel Hill, Pa. "What do we do next? What are we going to do with this project?"
Months of exhaustive research ensued, and the team identified a seemingly untapped market—agriculture.
The team proposed to Kay and Preisz that they market their drones to farmers to assess efficiencies in agricultural practices via infrared drone video. The students identified training opportunities for the co-owners, pinpointed appropriate farms and suggested various equipment upgrades.
All of this from students who previously had no experience in drones or agriculture. Kay and Preisz were "wowed" by their work.
"This class gave us a real-world scenario to deal with," said senior business administration major Greg Wright, of Bethlehem, Pa. "It was an exercise in trying to come up with solutions that worked within the capabilities of our clients and this company."
Tyler Elkington, a senior finance major from Kennebunkport, Maine, described the course as more of an internship that allowed them to make a difference.
"We got to help the local community and a local company," Elkington said.