On November 12, eight teams of Global Commerce majors from our two Senior Capstone classes spent the morning pitching ideas to representatives of the “Palmer Burch Spierling Foundation” in the hopes of securing $500,000 to fund their start-up initiatives. While the PBS Foundation is made-up just for our capstone courses (taught by Dr. Jessica Burch and Dr. Karen Spierling), the students’ ideas, teamwork skills, and polished presentations are all very real.

In just 6 weeks, every team rose to the challenge of identifying a global social/economic/environmental problem, creating a start-up business or non-profit to solve a focused piece of that problem in a specific location of their choice, and pitching their idea to the PBS Foundation, represented by our 2021-22 Executives-in-Residence: Oyauma Garrison, David Hirsh, and Erika Pryor.

The team proposals tackled global crises ranging from air pollution to unemployment, and from malaria to clean water and sustainable farming—in places across the globe, from Borneo, to South Africa and Burkina Faso, to Sao Paolo, Brazil. Students use all the different pieces of their Global Commerce major to identify problems and propose solutions—from their research skills and ability to understand the social, cultural, and political dynamics related to their problem and place, to their ability to create a business plan and 5-year projected budget. Along the way, they also have the opportunity to work with the Red Frame Lab and the dedicated mentorship of Steve Krak.

For some of these ideas, these presentations may be just the first step—keep an eye on the Red Frame Lab to see if our seniors take their creative thinking to market!

November 16, 2021