As part of their Business Incubator class, five students have created their own business and have partnered with the Mundelein Business Alliance [MBA]. The student-run business, ConnectBZ, is a new smart phone application [app] that will encourage residents and/or employees in or near Mundelein to patronize MBA member businesses.
“Our app serves to provide a better shopping experience for the local businesses and consumers of Mundelein and suburbs like it,” said Kaleb Carlson, one of the five MHS student-members of the new business. “By providing towns with more accessible channels to consumers, we believe that this will benefit communities as a whole,” he explained.
The MBA app was presented by ConnectBZ members Feb. 12 at the Mundelein Village Board meeting and again on Feb. 15 at the Annual Business Appreciation and Networking Breakfast. The app will be part of a larger-scale program to encourage and motivate residents and employees working in Mundelein to look to MBA members when seeking anything from food and entertainment to goods and services.
“ConnectBZ is the product of months of customer feedback and a close relationship with the MBA,” said Kevin Garcia, another student on the five-member team. The others, in addition to Carlson and Garcia, are David Olechno, Houston Tran and Daniel Bronfeyn.
“The MBA Board decided to partner with ConnectBZ,” said Anthony Fiorelli, chairman of the board of directors for the MBA. “When we heard of their app it wasn’t difficult to decide that we would like not only to assist them in designing it, but to secure its use to promote MBA member businesses,” he said.
Now in its second year, the Business Incubator Program allows students to conceptualize businesses, do the research, formulate marketing plans and bring the concept to reality. Students then “pitch” their products to a group of Mundelein area business people who offer feedback about the products. Several student groups then advance to actually creating the products or services and bring them to production. The entire process is similar to the television program “Shark Tank.” Michelle Sherwin-Petrucci teaches the course where ConnectBZ was conceived.
“I have had the honor of working with the students on a regular basis, offering input into their Incubator Program,” said Kerston Russell, owner of Guardian Supplies and MBA Past Chairman and current Board member. “I’m excited to have learned about ConnectBZ’s project and that we were offered the opportunity to get in on the ground-level in the development and use of their app,” he said.