By Jessica Weinberg
We are All-Star Tailgates! A group of three like-minded college students who share the same passion and vision for entrepreneurship.
Our Entrepreneurship classes, ENTR 301 “Creating Your Startup Business Model” and ENTR 302 “Pitch and Launch Your Business,” were taught by Ross Malaga and Jason Frasca. They both challenged us to think creatively and step outside of our comfort zones. We began as an idea and transitioned to reality. This journey through entrepreneurship has been more than rewarding. With the help of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship, we were able to learn the necessary skills and steps to launch our own business through hands on experience.
This is our story.
Find a problem and create a solution! Each person in class was challenged to come up with a problem in less than five minutes and think of a creative solution. We each pitched our idea, which was then voted off/on by our classmates. After we all voted for the best ideas, groups began to form.
All-Star Tailgates first began as Dunk It, a creative utensil used to dunk cookies in milk.
Our next steps were to validate our idea. We interviewed different age groups and came up with a conclusion that there was a market for cookie dunkers. It was an awesome idea indeed! However, later on in the semester we were taught about patent law and the importance of protecting your idea. After performing a more in-depth search, we soon found out a similar product like Dunk It was already created.
As a group we were facing major obstacles because we were forced to pivot ideas in the middle of the semester. We learned a valuable lesson in entrepreneurship. In fact, it was a blessing in disguise. We quickly used our entrepreneurial mindset which was taught to us in our previous Entrepreneurship class, ENTR 201 “Entrepreneurial Mindset and Innovation,” and came up with a new idea. We even changed our market target!
We quickly came up with a new idea, Pull Out Pong! The first-ever cooler with a pull out beer pong table. Though this is a niched product, it caters to the tailgating community which has a $12 billion market. After introducing our product to our professors and classmates, we then had to validate our idea. We spoke to potential customers, and asked them if they’d be interested in purchasing our product and how much would they be willing to pay.
Each week in class, every group was able to pitch their product/service for positive criticism and feedback from our peers and professors. Our entrepreneurship class provided us with the ultimate hands on experience. Our professors loved our idea and encouraged us to become the ultimate tailgating company as opposed to creating one product. We took their advice and came up with the name All-Star Tailgates.
We were fortunate to meet David Postolski, a patent attorney at Gearhart Law, who came to speak to our class about patent law. He went into depth about the importance of protecting your idea and the two different patents you can purchase, Utility and Design. We were encouraged to meet with him outside of class to discuss the possibility of getting a patent.
Our classes have prepared us for our big pitch competition, TeleBrands Inventors Day for Aspiring Entrepreneurs, on May 6. Each group will be competing for $10,000. We will be pitching our idea in front of hundreds of people. As an introverted person, this scares me. However, with the practice I’ve had each week pitching my idea to my class, I’ve become a much better public speaker.
Our Entrepreneurship courses provided us with the hands on experience we need to begin a startup company, and the skills we need to become successful. I’ve flourished tremendously and I’ve learned more in these three courses then I have through my college experience. Hopefully in the near future there will be a major for Entrepreneurship.
After our three, 3-credit courses, we each received a Certificate of Entrepreneurship from the Feliciano Center of Entrepreneurship. I encourage all students of all majors to take these courses — it changed my life for the better, and gave me the tools I needed to start my own business.
Our professors became our mentors, we built a trust relationship and they’ve been extremely supportive during this process. I am extremely thankful to have had this opportunity and be surrounded by like-minded individuals.
Jessica Weinberg is a Montclair State student with a major in Women Studies. Jessica has completed a Certificate of Entrepreneurship at the university’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship. During the spring 2015 semester, she is helping the Feliciano Center with its social media presence and events, including Women Entrepreneurship Week.