Virginia Tech Student Consultants Begin Project with VT KnowledgeWorks Member Company

Application of accounting, finance, marketing, management, information technology, and management science concepts to small business cases. On-site consultation with existing firms. Through the experiential studies, students will explore the role of 'pro bono' work in the management field. Pre: Pamplin College of Business senior or graduate standing. Permission of instructor is required for students outside the Pamplin College of Business. Pre: MGT 3304. (3H,3C)

Excerpt from the Undergraduate Course Catalog, Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech

"Small business cases."  "Consultation with existing firms."

What's a VT KnowledgeWorks member company to do but apply to be a case study?  Oh, I've got a "case" all right.

Apparently Reed Kennedy, course instructor, agreed.  Over the summer, we devised a project but he warned me that my project would be one of many and the students would made their own selections.

I got picked!

Small business consulting team from Virginia Tech

We met together as a team for the first time last night.  Pictured left to right:  Wade Hammes, Kristina Leonard, Jessica Benz, Anne Clelland, Parand Kashani, Catherine Fong, Samantha Kidd.

Here's the scope of the semester-long project:

  • Investigate the viability of Handshake’s business model
  • Identify measures to be taken to increase short-term revenue
  • Assess how Handshake can create “traction” and “scalability” that investors seek
  • Evaluate whether a regional social media initiative is possible and how it can best be implemented
  • Determine what can be learned about increasing rural regional economic development through the use of social media/Web 2.0 tools
  • Deliver a report and presentation with use of Angelsoft for client and/or prospective angel investors on its findings
  • Treat all company information as proprietary

Oh boy.

All the traits that students are coached to possess to be ready to enter the business world were so beautifully present.  Professionally dressed, they greeted me with smiles, handshakes, and eye contact.  They were prepared, asked informed, thought-provoking questions ("Once you've showcased a company on Handshake 2.0, have you followed up with an offer of more services?"  "Uh…well…very good question…I probably ought to have done that…"), and seemed confident about what could be done and what they were going to do next.

I felt proud of the team members, deeply gratified that their work at Virginia Tech had produced such stellar results, and vulnerably hopeful about what might result from their study of my company.

And, yes, I'm a Virginia Tech alumna, and felt honored to be in the company of such accomplishment and such promise.

With 6 team members – each a senior with almost 4 years studying the soundest business principles and the latest application of those principles - they bring a combined 24 years of expertise to the challenges facing a start-up, six weeks into year two.

I am so fortunate and so excited. 


Handshake Media, Incorporated, founded by Anne Clelland, is a member company of VT KnowledgeWorks, a unique growth enhancement program open to entrepreneurs in the New River Valley of Virginia and beyond.  Acceleration center and incubation facilities are located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Latimer, Mayberry & Matthews IP Law, LeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

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