April 19, 2019 at 9:45am
Dane Lisser

Millikin MBA students put skills into action by creating business plans

Millikin University's Master of Business Administration (MBA) "Executive" program makes it a priority for students to set a personal goal of improving their business skills by understanding management decisions and developing a business plan.

For the past eight months, teams of MBA students at Millikin put those skills into action by working together to launch their own business plans as part of a "capstone project." New this year, Millikin's MBA program enlisted executives from the local community to serve as coaches to each of the teams.

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The teams spent months designing their business plans by bringing together the elements of finance, marketing, management, leadership and ethics. On April 10, the students presented their business plans to a large audience in the Bob and Debi Johnston Banquet Room on the 3rd floor of the University Commons.

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"The teams worked very hard for weeks. It's difficult to come up with a business plan – the students had to develop an idea and put together all the pieces," said Dr. Anthony Liberatore, director of the MBA program at Millikin. "There's no script to follow, there's no model to follow. This is the culmination of their work."

In addition to sharing their plans, the students explained why their businesses are important as well as some of the key components behind them. The night opened with a presentation from Preemie Perfection, a company that provides an online site that is a one-stop solution for mothers and families of premature babies. Preemie Perfection was developed by Myra Burries of Decatur, Ill., David Freeman of Springfield, Ill., Jaylyn Harris of Decatur, and Mark Sweeney of Decatur.  

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The company plans to fulfill the needs of parents with premature infants through an easy one-touch solution that provides a checklist and helps connect parents to their infant's needs once the baby goes home.

"Our mission is to provide an online site that is a one-stop solution for mothers and families of premature babies," said Burries, also a mother to a premature baby. "My daughter was two pounds when she was born – having a solution for all your needs is very important."

Millikin MBA Program

The company's site features products that can be purchased such as bottles, diapers, premature car seats, strollers and baby cribs. "What sets us apart is that we have essential things premature babies would need," said David Freeman.

The next presentation came from Reclaimed Roots: Midwest Barnwood, developed by Emily Albert of Saint Joseph, Ill., Eric Bishop of Blue Mound, Ill., and Nick Heckman of Forsyth, Ill. Reclaimed Roots provides all-inclusive services to reclaimed wood from barns throughout the Midwest.

The company takes on the difficult task of deconstructing a barn, then reselling the wood to add historic Midwestern charm to a client's home or business.

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"Imagine that you have a barn that you want to take down – it's a lot of work and a lot of time, so where do you turn?" said Heckman. "There's 30,000 barns in Illinois and 10 percent of those are ready to be torn down right now and in the next five years another 10 percent will be ready to go. We plan to harvest that wood and sell it to markets where people are redoing and redecorating their homes or businesses."

Next was ACE, MD led by Chelsea Miller of Clinton, Ill., Megan Scott of Forsyth, and Jeremy Woods of Decatur. ACE, MD is an online program that offers training materials that are not currently available to medical students to assist them in not only passing their United States Medical Licensing Examination Step 2CS, but also provide a clinical training foundation that will save lives through more thorough patient examination.

During the presentation, members of ACE, MD say over half of all internationally trained medical students do not receive a residency program match, which is essential to their ability to become a fully-licensed medical provider. The company will offer a subscription of training tutorial videos delivered on-demand electronically to the institutions and the students. The company will provide clinical skills training to medical students, nurse practitioner students, physician assistant students, or any person wishing to learn and be proficient at medical clinical skills.

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"ACE stands for Achieving Clinical Excellence," said Jeremy Woods. "When you attend Caribbean medical schools, students will learn the book materials but they don't receive clinical work. Students then have to go to the U.S. to find a school that will allow them to do their clinical rotations which is difficult to do. Many of the problems occur because of their lack of clinical experience and knowledge."

Woods added, "We want to start a series of videos that will show students proper clinical medical skills. By doing this, they can start at an early age in medical school where they can understand the concepts. We are wanting to increase their residency program match rate by 70 percent."  

Jeffonne Owens of Decatur presented her business idea called Image GO, an app that connects people to beauty services anywhere, anytime and any day.

As Owens explained, trying to find an experienced makeup artist or barber online in a place that you are unfamiliar with can be overwhelming and frightening. The Image GO App will connect people to its digital marketplace of hundreds of experienced top notch professionals ready to show up at your door.

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"Image Makers is an internet marketplace that connects professionals to beauty consumers who need their services," said Owens. "We live in a referral society. Each user will find our site on Image Maker or they will download the app for free, and be able to book appointments. We will use a matching algorithm that will match the users based on their personal choices. What we match will be sent to the match professional and they can decide to accept or deny the jobs."

The final presentation of the evening came from a company called The LOOP, which provides families and their children a safe place to come play, take a class or plan a party. The LOOP was developed by Latoya Alexander of Decatur, Joshua Chamblin of Mt. Zion, Ill., Lorena Meyenberg of Mt. Zion, and Rafael Pereira of Decatur.

The LOOP is a solution to escaping the snow, rain or the heat, or a chance for parents to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee while both toddlers and young kids can burn hours of energy with no time limit. The company also provides light snacks along with free WiFi. A separate toddler area will give the smaller guests a safe place to play and the open concept playground will allow parents to keep an eye on their kids.

Millikin MBA

Millikin offers a top-notch MBA program designed for those students and professionals who want to take the next step in their academic and professional careers. Working with experienced faculty, students will learn how to connect theory with practice to strengthen their overall understanding of the business landscape.

The Millikin "Executive" MBA is a 17-month part-time evening program for professionals who want to advance their careers by developing executive thinking and performance skills. Within this model is a Management concentration, geared toward the working adult with several years of business experience and education, and a Healthcare Administration concentration, geared toward those who seek a position of leadership in Healthcare Administration.