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COBE Class Serves as Sharks in Renewal of International Marketing Project

RADFORD -- In their roles as venture capitalists, RU students in Michael Chatham’s Accounting 611 class enjoyed the power Monday as they were courted by aspiring international entrepreneurs.

Modeled after a popular BBC show “Dragon’s Den” in which entrepreneurs pitch business plans to real venture capitalists, the international business exercise featured Chatham’s class playing “dragons,” or venture capitalists, to the entrepreneurs from Geoffrey Heel’s post-graduate Import/Export Class at Blaise Pascal University in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Blaise Pascal University is a public university in south-central France with an enrollment of more than14,000.

Using a Skype hook-up, the 20-member graduate class, called “Managerial Accounting: Decision-Making and Control,” entertained and judged business proposals pitched by the 22-member class from Pascal that included students from France, Russia, China, Thailand and Morocco.

“We had a Colombian student speaking English, her second language, here in the U.S. talking over the Internet to a Chinese student speaking English, her second language, in a French classroom to a class taught by an English professor,” said Chatham. “That is international business education.”

Opportunities in emergent markets appealed to RU’s “dragons” as they voted to invest their hypothetical money into three businesses based in China, but passed on the one proposal to be based in the United States, a Manhattan-based boutique providing health drinks and massages to busy New Yorkers. Deluxe Wedding Company, a turnkey wedding planning business targeted at Shanghai where more than 15 million weddings occurred last year, was unanimously invested in by the five RU venture capitalists.

“Experiences such as this class are good opportunities for our students to see how prepared they are to compete in a global business environment,” said Faye Gilbert, dean of the College of Business and Economics (COBE).

Each of the Pascal student teams’ presentations included product-related cost breakdowns, marketing plans, market descriptions, production or import plans and other components of business plans produced by entrepreneurs that culminate in a request for funding and proposed equity stake. The RU students queried the candidates on rates of return, market dynamics, competitive positions and profitability projections before announcing themselves “in” or “out.”

“I haven’t traveled internationally, so it seemed more challenging than I thought to understand the different cultural or language aspects of the proposals,” said Lindsay Arthur, a first-year MBA student from Roanoke.

This is the second year for the ‘Dragon’s Den’ project and next semester, RU students will prepare proposals for scrutiny and investment by dragons from Pascal.

December 9, 2010
Don Bowman; 540-831-7523

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