Wolffest, originally started as BurgerFest, was first held on campus at The University of Houston in 2002. Now a spring tradition at WCE, BurgerFest has been renamed Wolffest, branding it under the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship banner. It was an idea, started by its own entrepreneurship students, to provide real-world scenarios for students to learn what it really takes to start a business.
Wolffest has become part of the WCE capstone course and is the final step in completing a BBA in Entrepreneurship from the Wolff Center. Seniors implement everything they have learned in the classroom into a written business plan that is implemented during 3 consecutive day competition held in mid-April.
Wolffest has inadvertently become the largest and most complex fundraiser the senior class participates in during their time in the program. However, from the beginning, Wolffest has had one primary objective; teaching WCE students how to write and implement an operations plan for a business startup. This experience has proven to be invaluable. Students experience all the challenges of organizing, researching, negotiation, revenue/cost modeling, operating, delegating, adjusting, competing and evaluating their own business’ success and/or failure.
WCE’s goal is to grow this event into a celebration of entrepreneurship, combining it with events such as 3-Day Startup and others, ultimately creating Entrepreneurship Week at the University of Houston.
How it Works
The 30-40 students who were hand selected into our program learn to calculate cost and revenue, find capital, and write an effective business plan. Now, they put these skills to the test during this three day business competition.
Prior to beginning their final semester, the students are split up into teams, CEOs are selected and they have the opportunity to “hire” fellow classmates and junior classmates to join the company. Thus, the class is split into five teams that will face head-to-head competition – all for bragging rights! The newly formed company is given a few rules, but essentially their team must sell a product (food or otherwise) on campus for three days and the winning team is the one with the largest bottom line.
The teams work for over two semesters putting together their plans, finding capital, creating marketing strategies and investigating the competition! Students get out into the business community to find “angels” who will invest in their Wolffest team and seek alumni to become their Board of Advisors. It’s a tremendous learning experience for everyone involved.
Finally, the day has arrived and the company must begin operations. From past experience, we’ve learned some teams will not be prepared – their grills will not work, their sponsors may back out at the last minute, they will not have enough food, or their facilities will not pass the health and safety inspection – much like “real” businesses.
Wolffest is a great opportunity for our students to understand the difference between planning for a business and operating a business. As with most entrepreneurs, they are constantly forced to innovate and add new components to an existing model.