A new class at UNI's business college is allowing students to create a business and drive revenue. Called Marketing Strategy in Practice, the course integrates education with practice and strengthens the department's marketing and entrepreneurship focus.

"The chance to run your own business and get a small taste of what it's like, that's what I'm excited about," said professor Matthew Bunker, who built the course.  

The impetus behind the class was a program at a Brigham Young University (BYU) branch in Idaho. The program includes several classes teaching students how to create, pitch and sell their businesses. Bunker met with BYU faculty and subsequently built something unique to Iowa.

The objectives for Marketing Strategy in Practice include creating a product based on customer feedback, delivering an elevator speech pitching the idea of a product, using a marketing plan to apply for a commercial loan, coordinating different components into a broader strategic plan and executing the plan. 

Beyond creating a business, the course will show there is much more to marketing than what meets the eye. Bunker said a lot of times marketing is taught similar to advertising, when it actually includes much more, like price points, distributions, target markets and more. These elements are all crucial in creating a successful business.  

"By combining marketing and entrepreneurship, we're showing that the two really do come together," Bunker said. "Marketing is more rounded to include more than a series of lectures. The goal is to facilitate a workshop, work in groups and make this a collaborative experience."

Businesses will start with just a bit of money as a grant, and any revenues they generate will be put into a seed fund for the next cohort. So far, the class size is a little more than 30 students — the ideal size, Bunker said, because a smaller group allows him to work closely with each group.

Because the class is still new, Bunker hopes to refine it semester to semester. But the central premise will continue to stress that marketing and entrepreneurship go hand in hand when studying and executing business.