By Ed Brennen
In the course Strategic Management, Manning School of Business
students learn how startup companies turn their ideas into commercially viable products.
To give his class an inside look at how early-stage startups attract investors, Management Prof. Scott Latham
took 40 of his students to Boston recently for the eighth annual Barracuda Bowl, a “Shark Tank”-style pitch competition for health tech ventures.
The event was held at the Mintz law firm and co-hosted by the Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2
), an incubator program for early-stage medical device and biotech startups that is a joint venture between UML and the UMass Chan Medical School.
“It’s a great exercise in experiential learning that helps students see strategy first-hand,” says Latham, who will have his students evaluate the business models and strategies of the five startups that pitched for their final group projects.
Asha Nicholas, a senior from Lowell with concentrations in finance and management information systems, says observing the entrepreneurs as they pitched to judges reinforced her classroom lessons.
“It was nice to see exactly what we are learning in action, down to the specific elements of differentiation, strategy and business models,” says Nicholas, who noted that “even established adults get nervous when presenting.”
The Barracuda Bowl was not the first M2D2-hosted event for senior Nicholas Ewing.
“I plan to pursue a job in the medical devices field, so I attend as many M2D2 events as I can,” says Ewing, a native of Westford, Massachusetts, who is marketing director for the Entrepreneurial Ventures Association
. “My biggest takeaway is to network with industry professionals and listen to business ideas and solutions.”
Students were joined at the event by Chancellor Julie Chen
. Kenn Turner, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, spoke about Boston’s role as a biotech hub.
During her products and operations internship at Dell Technologies last summer, senior Gabby Ferzoco had the opportunity to pitch recommendations to higher-ups. The Walpole, Massachusetts, native was impressed by the presentation skills of the Barracuda Bowl startups.
“I was surprised by how fast-paced the pitches were and how much information they got out there in a few slides,” says Ferzoco, whose concentration is in analytics and operations management.
Senior Jason McKeon, who plans to pitch in the Rist DifferenceMaker
competition this year, was taking notes.
“Watching startups pitch to investors gave me a better understanding of business models and strategies,” says McKeon, a Haverhill, Massachusetts, native with concentrations in finance and international business.