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USU marketing team headed to national competition

A team of students from Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business was selected on Wednesday to compete in the 2015 Wake Forest University School of Business Marketing Summit.

The summit, which will take place from April 6 to 8, is a competition in which business students are asked to identify solutions to real-life marketing problems.

“This is the first time that the Huntsman School has ever applied,” said Trevor Gonzalez, a member of the team. “That is what makes this so exciting. Usually a marketing summit wants a school to apply multiple years before they are invited out. First-time applicants rarely get chosen to participate.”

The team, assembled by Professor Sterling Bone, includes Gonzalez and five others: Dan Meszaros, Emily Boyce, Sheii Lindley, Kyle Spackman and Chris Vaughan.

To apply, the group submitted a slideshow response to a theoretical case and a video introducing the school and members of the team.

“The team is comprised of some of the most talented and busy students in the Huntsman school, so finding time for us to meet was the greatest challenge,” Vaughan said.

With limited time to work together on the application presentation, Vaughan said, the team had to “divide and conquer, relying on the strengths of other members of the team to make the case come together.”

Vaughan said more than 30 schools apply each year. This year, six teams were selected and will compete for the first-place prize of $8,000. Individuals may also be selected to receive the MVP award or the Fan Favorite award, each worth $1,000.

Last year’s competition included teams from the University of Cambridge, Cornell University, the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business and the University of California at Berkeley.

“I am really nervous,” Meszaros said. “I’m excited to represent a school that many people over there probably had no idea existed.”

A new case will be presented to the team’s members on March 26, one week before they fly to Wake Forest. The case must be completed and ready to present by the first day of the competition, when judges will begin eliminating teams. Gonzalez said the teams that do not get eliminated move on to the finals and present again the next day.

“The only difference between this case competition and the fake one we had to do to apply is that this one will be for a real company,” Meszaros said. “In the past, this marketing competition has been sponsored by companies such as Coke and Nautica, so we’re dealing with the big boys here.”

Since the team was formed on Jan. 22, Vaughan said its members have learned to trust and rely on one another.

“It’s overwhelming to think about the scale of what we’re doing, but I couldn’t think of better teammates to join me in the fray,” Vaughan said. “The competition will be stiff, but that’s where we belong as USU students.”

Winter Enright, Sadie Hughes, Alyssa Roberts, Kelsey Schwab and Madi Watson contributed to this report.

– mdl