What’s On the Menu? Burgers and Business Plans

Published on April 5, 2011

WCE Students Prepare to Fire Up Business Plans April 13-14 at Annual BurgerFest

Entrepreneurship students will take over the UC North Patio (the area between Melcher Hall and the University Center) for two days during the annual BurgerFest competition.

Students from the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business will put their entrepreneurial skills to the test and feed hungry customers as the culminating project in their program during the annual BurgerFest.

Slated for April 13-14 on the UC North Patio, BurgerFest will pit teams of entrepreneurship students against each other as they use all the skills they’ve honed to launch food stands, with a simple goal — sell as many hamburgers as possible. The preparation, though, requires some work.

“BurgerFest started as a microcosm project for a team to work on branding, selling, production, inventory control, customer relationships and cash management,” said WCE director Ken Jones. “The students learn and apply business skills through selling hamburgers.”

In recent years, BurgerFest has grown into a UH tradition, drawing customers from all over the campus. The event also brings in support from entrepreneurs and businesses across the city, Jones said.

“We try to partner up with as many outside entities to alleviate the cost by donating goods and services, and some people make direct contributions,” he added.

Students must organize their teams and make the most of resources available to them to effectively market their products, gather resources and see the biggest financial reward.

“It’s all about networking and building relationships,” said entrepreneurship student Scarlett Taylor, who is chief sponsorship officer of the Burger Queen Team, one of the competing groups.

The team, which also includes Elaine Pachica (CEO), Bejaye Ilegbodu (CMO), Margarita Flores (CFO) and Megan Gonzales (COO), sought guidance from experienced business leaders who are part of WCE’s mentorship program.

The advice paid off, as the Burger Queen Team has enlisted the help of Carl’s Jr., a California-based hamburger restaurant making its way to the Houston market, to donate supplies and contribute volunteers to help operate the burger stand. Starbucks (Aramark) is also planning to celebrate its 40th anniversary on campus during BurgerFest.

The team has also secured Dimas Construction as an additional sponsor and is involving other student service organizations on campus, including Alpha Phi Omega and MVP.

“WCE has given us mentors, who help us build relationships with all kinds of people, and show us how to take advantage of those resources,” Gonzales said.

Students in the entrepreneurship program don’t take BurgerFest as just another class assignment, she added. “All the proceeds go into funding graduation, the jackets students in the program wear and WCE programs,” Gonzales said.

And more importantly, students understand that it is an important learning experience and one of the biggest steps that they will take before graduating from the program.

“We’re business people in training, and we have to do what we have to do to survive. This is our grade,” Taylor said. “If we don’t pass this, then we’ve wasted a lot of time.”

By Ryan Tang