IE Students Make Mark in Entrepreneurship Competition
Henry Berkemeier and Marek Davis, industrial engineering sophomores, were members of Purdue’s interdisciplinary FroYo Xpress team, which presented a business plan for a self-serve frozen yogurt kiosk. The team also included Aarti Panda of computer science and Bharat Agarwal, a management student. All four students are members of Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Learning Community.
The FroYo Xpress proposal offers a frozen yogurt experience alternative to walk-up stores. It was borne of Davis’s frustration at being unable to access a drink when the residence hall cafeterias were closed. The Purdue team placed 12th out of 166 teams, putting it in finalist standing. Many of the other teams were composed of graduate students who had spent several years researching and establishing a business plan.
FroYo Xpress team members are students in Purdue’s Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program in which students earn an add-on certificate with their diplomas by taking entrepreneurship courses. Berkemeier says that working on FroYo Xpress gives him an opportunity to apply the lessons he has learned in class.
“My entrepreneurship classes were a major influencer in my decision to study Industrial Engineering, a major that gives me the opportunity to blend business with engineering. Learning to understand the many aspects of business has shown me the importance of investment cycles and cash flows, lessons that I learned more about in Engineering Economics,” Berkemeier says. He is also a member of the Purdue Varsity Glee Club and an event coordinator for Alpha Lambda Delta Phi Eta Sigma honor society.
Davis, the FroYo Xpress team leader, says that simultaneously creating a business plan and designing an innovative technology gave him a unique perspective on engineering. “While creating this plan, we interviewed real potential customers and identified specific design criteria based on their pains and needs. We learned that the product envisioned by engineers can be totally different from what the customer actually wants, and we learned how to pivot our concept to client needs.” Davis is involved with Pi Kappa Phi social fraternity and will be a team leader for 2017 Boiler Gold Rush and a camp counselor for the Duke Energy Academy at Purdue.