To test their presentation, analytical and group work skills, fourth-year Trent Business students, Shayan Faisal and Kartik Anand participated in this year’s Youth Entrepreneurs Conference (YEC) – one of the GTA’s largest business and networking events. Attracting thousands of students and industry professionals across Ontario, YEC provides opportunities for students to connect, learn and highlight their critical thinking skills in a fun and interactive fashion.
All teams this year were tasked with providing recommendations on DOUGH.TO – a Toronto-based cookie dough business.
Read on for Shayan’s experience attending YEC and placing third overall.
The Task on Hand
Before the conference, we received the outline of a business case as well as the IVEY Publishing reading regarding the business, DOUGH.TO. We were tasked to provide recommendations on how to expand, and why, to a cookie dough business. The business was growing consistently within the Toronto community. Yet the owners believed that it was time to move to the next step. The solution provided had to be sourced back to the case study, or a primary source. It had to be backed by historical sales data, social media profiles, align with the brand identity and make a material impact on profits – a tall order!
Competition breeds excellence
Business is one of the most competitive fields out there and competing in a case competition shows the true nature of this field. We were tasked with providing a solution to a real business and were competing against other sharp and brilliant students. At first, we were nervous about whether we had what it took to compete.
However, we quickly thought about our own achievements - my team member Kartik is the CEO and co-founder of his own social media business and the vice-president of the Trent University Marketing Association. Not be outdone, I have immense experience with start-up businesses, angel investing and making a business plan.
Together, we have participated in a few group projects. With that in mind and with our group dynamic, we knew we could make it far.
The first round: expect the unexpected
During the first round of the event, we had to present our proposal to a small group of judges. These judges would then select who would make it to the top 3 round.
When I entered the breakout room, I noticed that I was presenting to the owner of DOUGH.TO and some business consultants. I was stunned, but I kept my cool and navigated through my proposal slowly and sold my method to the owner.
In the end, they applauded me for my confidence and the depth of our proposal. One consultant even said, “It looked professional, it's something that I would see at work”.
The top 3 round: impressing executives from IBM, CIBC, and Microsoft
After an intense first round, I felt like I did a great job and was satisfied with any outcome, but I was still craving victory.
As the email deadline to notify us approached, I got an email and it said… “Congratulations, you’re moving on to the Top 3”. I jumped in excitement and shared the news with Kartik who had to leave the event due to an emergency.
At this point, I didn’t look at myself as the underdog, but as a team with an equal opportunity to win the competition. Each other team had four members, while we had two, and only one of us was able to present.
I reviewed my slides and my proposal and was ready to present to the judges. I was given the chance to present first, and I believe I did my absolute best. I covered the grounds of our proposal and answered intensely tough questions posed by the judges. After my presentation, the judges said they appreciated the layout of our proposal and the detailed presentation.
A thrilling experience
Even though we wanted to win, we are grateful to have won third place and $250 for Team Trent. We would also like to thank the other team, judges, and the YEC team - this experience is one that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.
To other Trent students: Step outside your comfort zone and experience things you fear! If I decided to back out last minute, I wouldn’t have gained such as thrilling experience and met so many bright individuals.
- Shayan Faisal
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