Students flip for business lesson

The Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship’s BurgerFest wasn’t just an event to sell burgers — it gave student teams the opportunity to work as a company in a real-world situation.

Teams were composed of people who each held a position, ranking from CEO to COO. Team leaders were appointed as CEOs and decided how the team was going to operate its burger stand.

For example, UH’s The Burger Queen Team partnered with Carl’s Jr., a California-based restaurant that has opened two branches in Houston. The team also had participation from Starbucks as they helped them distribute their new instant coffee.

“We went to speak at the Carl’s Jr. location and asked to speak with the manager,” said Margarita Flores, chief financial officer of the Burger Queen Team. “Of course we had to offer something in return, and that is that BurgerFest is a great marketing aspect, and people are just finding out that Carl’s Jr. is in Houston.”

The team gave small giveaways, such as a pen, a magnet or a car antenna from the restaurant. In return, people would get a dollar off their burgers.

“That worked really well. People from California have recognized the name and they are super exited to try it again,” Flores said.

Lucia Ayala-Guerra, a political science and communication senior, remembered her childhood in Monterrey, Mexico, when she tried one of the restaurant’s burgers.

“Not only is the burger good, but the marketing strategies that they used worked really great. Carl’s Jr. was my favorite restaurant during my childhood,” Ayala-Guerra said.

The Burger Queen Team had been planning their participation in BurgerFest since last summer, when they began to have ideas about what to do and who to network with.

The night before the event started, the team went to the restaurant to see how it operated to have the same concept in BurgerFest.

“We saw how the restaurant operated and it really gave us an appreciation of what they do, and we learned about the business and the burger,” said Bejaye Ilegbodu, chief marketing officer for the team.

According to Flores, the hardest part was networking and raising money. Her team raised about $5,000, $4,000 of which she raised herself.

“I didn’t know where I was going to get all the money from,” Flores said. “It’s a lot of baby steps to create this big thing.”

This year, 30 students participated in the event. They were all graded by their sales and the in-kind donations they received.

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