Brain Food: Business Students Learning the Ropes in the Real World

Mar 13, 2014

Whether it’s tracking cattle with GPS or ordering popcorn from your iPhone at a football game, Professor Chris Scherpereel wants his business students to understand the whole business process. . . moving a product from concept to consumer.

Chris Scherpereel works with students in NAU's BizBlock program.
Credit Courtes photo

“We’ve been doing it for 12 years now, and it’s really been a success and it’s really unique to NAU. To my knowledge, not any other school that has a course like this BizBlock course,” Scherpereel says.

Dr. Scherperell is an associate professor of management in the W. A. Franke College of Business at Northern Arizona University. But, in the BizBlock program, he is more of a coach than an instructor, guiding teams of undergraduate students through the process of developing a business model with a product that somebody wants to buy.

“Just having a cool product isn’t going to be a business success. Having a cool product and having a business model that can use that cool product in a different way in order to generate profits for the business is what’s important,” he says.

The goal, says Scherpereel, is to walk students through the communications, marketing and management steps. So, if they see an opportunity in the future, like micro-chipping free-range cattle or selling refreshments through mobile devises, they’ll have the skills to be able to do it.

“The value really comes in that coaching and mentoring the students to do something … and so this whole desire to get interdisciplinary teams working on real projects is a desire to be able to coach them through the process … And that’s the purpose of BizBlock really, give them the basic tools so if they are that type of person they have the tools and confidence to do it the next level.”