FME Profile: Reduce, Reuse, Rebound!
One of the most unique features of a Babson education is the school’s one-of-a-kind Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course for first-year students. FME breaks a class of 40 freshmen into smaller groups, each of which forms and runs a company based on an entrepreneurial business idea. Each business goes through important phases such as pitching the business to faculty, launch, the selling period, and close of business in the final weeks of class. Along the way group members choose which roles to occupy in the new company and learn valuable lessons on teamwork and effective group dynamics
Every FME experience is unique, and mine was no exception. At the beginning of the year, I started off in a group called Heathable, which attempted to create a healthy prepared meal targeting school-aged children and busy parents. We came up with a low-fidelity prototype of our product and pitched the venture to professors as part of the classes Rocket Pitch competition, but were not voted on to the next round of funding.
Since Healthable was dissolved and its members were distributed among the remaining groups, I then joined another food-focussed group called Consciously Clean Snacking Machine, which sought to create healthier vending machine options on college campuses. This business also proved more difficult than anticipated, as our idea to replace some of the food in existing vending machines with healthier options was rejected by Babson Dining due to contractual obligations.
After CCSM pivoted to a different product idea, I decided to join my final group, Reduce, Reuse, Rebound, which marketed and sold a mini basketball hoop for the purpose of teaching better recycling habits in children and adults alike. With my new group, I became a member of the company’s Human Resources team, which gave me valuable insight into team operations and the importance of strong interpersonal skills in a successful venture.
Although I was a member of HR, each group member was responsible for creating and presenting “Interim Business Updates” to the professors and rest of the class, which informed them on the performance of the company across the board. Through these reports, I became familiar with departments outside of HR such as sales and marketing and accounting, which provided more context and insight into all the goes into running a business.
Our team generally worked well together to accomplish business goals on time and effectively, and it wasn’t until the personal selling phase of business that we ran into a few major hurdles. After selling our hoop to our friends around campus and a few family members, we felt that we had exhausted our market on campus and sought opportunities to sell outside of the Babson community, but this proved extremely difficult. A number of local stores and organizations in the Wellesley area did not respond to email inquiries or turned us down entirely, which was a blow to team confidence and moral.
As a result of personal selling setbacks, we did not end up fully meeting our expected sales forecasts and ended up not turning a profit on the venture. Despite the setbacks we faced and the disappointing end result of our efforts, the group as a whole learned the valuable lessons that can only be gleaned from failure. Entrepreneurial business startups fail much more often than succeed, and a truly successful entrepreneur learns as much from their mistakes as they do from their triumphs.