Virtual Enterprise competes in California State Conference and Exhibition

Students create fictional company to compete with 42 other teams in a tradeshow and competition event

By Patrick Yu

Imagine fostering, growing, and perfecting an idea that you hope will revolutionise a market, or change lives, traveling miles away from home and presenting that idea to judges.

This is what seven Virtual Enterprise students did. Juniors Ansh Soni, Evan Pomeroy, Michelle Marvar, Michelle Marvar, and seniors Kevin Ham, Kathy Rodriguez, and Arleen Liu traveled to Bakersfield to pitch their business prompt: Pop T, a new innovation that allows for milk tea to be bottled.

According to the class’ press release, the California State Conference and Exhibition, saw 42 firms compete against each other. Each firm was judged four times, and each time, the number of competitors was narrowed until a final six firms remained. These remaining firms then traveled to New York in April to compete.

Soni humorously recalled how his team did not even realize that their salesmanship was a separate competition.

“We had two competitions,” Soni said. “We had the business competition, which we made to the second round. The actual competition of the sales pitch, that we got second place in, we didn’t know it was happening! So they had judges scoring our sales pitches. We didn’t know that was happening. By chance, we just had good sales pitches.”

Each of the seven team members had different roles: COO, CFO, CEO, VP of Marketing, sales manager, human resources representative, and branch banker.

“I’m bank branch manager,” Marvar said. “Basically what I do is handle all of the transactions and pay payroll and bills.”

Their fictitious company, Pop T, was Lee’s idea. Soni explained how Junior Han Lee had an idea of creating a product that would give users a boba beverage wherever they went.  Marvar describes their bottled milk tea product:

“There’s a whole concept where there’s this glass bottle of milk tea and there’s this compartment of dehydrated boba in it,” Marvar said, “so when you open the top, the vacuum seal pops and drops the dehydrated boba into the tea … In terms of the product, we feel that there’s something that there’s a huge demand for in the Silicon Valley. [The virtual enterprise market has] no boba tea and very few other drink companies.”

As for the team’s journey, Soni recalled that the team was slightly underprepared.

“While we were in the car,” Soni said, “we were basically doing last minute preps.”

Once they were at the event, the team began to enjoy the experience.

“I loved the entire competition,” Marvar said. “It was really fun, and probably the trade show [was my favourite] part because I got to see a bunch of new products.”  

The team was not particularly dejected after the loss.  

“We got farther than we should have,” Soni said. “We did not expect to place at all because we did not put in as much effort and did not have as many resources as some of the other teams.”

Soni said they will be competing in Oakland. There, the team will prepare better, and he is confident that they can secure a victory.

“We now know that, even though we have less resources than a lot of these other schools, we can still win,” Soni said.