BYU-Idaho’s Integrated Business Core (IBC) program helps students gain experience and skills to be successful advertisers and marketers. Each semester, IBC puts groups of students into companies where they start and run a business. The purpose of IBC is to put students in an immersive experience where they learn to problem solve using teamwork, collaboration and other soft skills.
By the fourth week of the semester, each company has their business idea. They have the opportunity to pitch their idea to a group of local bankers to get a loan. This helps students understand what they should be thinking about and how to find ways to be more efficient with their funds. It serves as a chance to learn what bankers are looking for when authorizing loans.
Occasionally, an IBC company will be acquired by an outside source to keep the business going when the semester ends. Usually that happens once or twice a year, but the last two semesters have been surprising.
“Just this last semester alone, we had eight companies and five out of the eight companies were acquired, and I think three out of the five were from outside sources,” said Matthew Maroon, the IBC director.
Maroon said the change in business success beyond the semester is thanks to the pandemic.
“I think it has to do with just how innovative and maybe creative our students have had to get in this environment,” Maroon said.
Since having a booth on campus is not an option due to COVID-19, students have been more creative with social media and community involvement.
“We actually did a lot of networking and we were working with influencers on Instagram. I had a few friends I could network with, and some of our other teammates had amazing connections. It's great to see how students are good at networking. In our class it was great to put our networks together and see what we had,” said Melanie Paiz, an IBC student during the Winter 2021 semester.
IBC instructors are encouraged to take a step back and let the students lead. Sometimes they see that a student’s idea isn’t the best, but they let students learn through experience.
“It’s okay to allow them to fail and kind of learn that for their own because if they don’t then it’s not really learning, right? They’re just being told what to do and to be honest, that just doesn’t cut it in the real world,” Maroon said.
After having the IBC experience, students often feel more confident starting a business of their own.
“I came to this university having still a slight fear of running an actual business, like paying the taxes like making sure I do things legally and correctly, and I will tell you IBC took away that fear. A hundred percent, probably a hundred and ten percent,” Paiz said.
Keep an eye out in late May for this semester’s IBC products.