From an app that offers instant home décor suggestions to a virtual reality kiosk designed to enhance customer purchase decisions, University of Central Florida business students’ innovative ideas just might find their way into a Target store near you in the future.
Last week 11 student teams competed for $2,000 in cash prizes by pitching real-world business solutions to executives from the retail giant as part of the UCF College of Business Great Capstone Case Competition.
“Target was incredibly impressed with the talent and passion of the business students in this summer’s Capstone Competition,” said Jennifer Kearney, District Team Leader for Target, which has sponsored the summer competition two years in a row. “Their insights and recommendations will be taken back to the organization to improve the brand and drive sales.”
Kearney and several of her Target colleagues joined management faculty as judges of the competition, which is part of the college’s final coursework. This semester students were given a business situation from Target and asked to create a solution or plan to benefit the company. This Capstone competition had 60 students, the largest summer competition to date.
The team of Paul Hoffmann, Tina McGuire, Phil Tangorra, Syncha Thompson and Ryan Wood took home the top prize with their idea for a mobile app that provides instant professional home décor assistance to online and in-store Target shoppers. Marketing lab instructor Gary Nichols served as the team’s faculty advisor.
“The TargetSuites app would bundle items together and provides expert design suggestions for those who want to have a great looking space but don’t know where to start or for those who are just looking for some inspiration,” said Hoffmann, a marketing major at UCF.
In store or online, shoppers would be able to click on an item in TargetSuites and view it bundled with several coordinating pieces. The app also would suggest bundles at three price points to help shoppers find the best option for their budget.
“As soon as Phil proposed the idea, we knew we had something special, of course, then we spent a lot of time tearing it apart,” Hoffmann said. “We prepared for every scenario possible and every member of our team contributed to our success. This team has been the best experience of my college career.”
After a semester of working together as a team, students present their plan to faculty who select the teams that will compete in Capstone.
“The Great Capstone Case Competition aims to pit nominated teams with superior strategic and financial analysis against one another for our client of the industry in which we study. I was so proud of all our teams this semester,” said Chris Leo, management instructor and faculty lead of this summer’s Capstone class. “For the finalists to get a chance to pitch their ideas to executives from Target is an invaluable experience as they set out in their careers.”
Taking second place was the team of Aaron DeLisa, Kim Fritscher, Michelle Fritscher, Hernando Locklar and Austin Reese (Team Set to Stun) with an idea to enable direct ordering of Target products seen on decorating shows through interactive TV.
Estefania Ardila, Carolina Espinoza, Maria Linares, Mayra Pacheco and Janet Velez, of Team Bullseye, finished third with their suggestion to equip stores with a kiosk and virtual reality glasses to enhance customer purchase decisions.