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Featured Events | Mar 16, 2021 |

Resolar Selected as 2nd Annual PVH Ground Floor Challenge Winners

By Emily Rochotte

The second annual PVH Ground Floor Challenge may have looked a little different than last year’s competition, but this year’s event offered first-year students new opportunities to learn to work effectively in teams and develop a business plan from start to finish.

The Ground Floor course is a required first-year business essentials class that focuses on introducing students to the foundational disciplines of business, including what we mean by ‘business with a purpose’, as they begin their Gabelli School of Business journey. The PVH Ground Floor Challenge is one of two major projects students work on as part of the class, and the presentations given by the groups are the result of just seven weeks of ideation, research and development.

At the final competition, held Feb. 17, six semi-finalist teams shared their business plans live on Zoom. The semi-finalists – Crucible Collective, Mask Account, Pacha Power, Resolar, Rose Hill Team Company and Rotation Rent – were narrowed down from the 100 group presentations made by 700 students from across all 20 Ground Floor sections at both Rose Hill and Lincoln Center, and presentations took the audience through each company’s supply chain organization, financial projections, marketing plans and sustainability commitments.

“The depth of research our first-year students completed and the creativity and fresh perspective they brought to real societal challenges was truly inspiring–I look forward to seeing many of their ideas becoming viable business opportunities,” said Donna Rapaccioli, Dean of the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University. 

As part of its sustainability partnership with the Gabelli School of Business, the global fashion and lifestyle company PVH sponsored the challenge for the second year in a row, and a panel of five PVH leaders and two Fordham innovators judged the live event, moderated by sophomores Samanta Muratovic and Elena DeVita, two members of the first-ever PVH Ground Floor Challenge winning team in 2020.

Connecting in a Virtual World

“The pandemic has impacted all of our lives, but it’s also sped up the rate of change when it comes to sustainability issues in business,” said Lerzan Aksoy, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives with the School of Business, “I’m excited that our students are being introduced to these frameworks and understanding what it means to be a business that cares about the environment, social issues, and governance as soon as they enter our program.”

The virtual format of this year’s Ground Floor Challenge presented new obstacles for students to navigate. Teams were randomly assigned prior to knowing which students would be matriculating in-person, and which would be studying remotely. Meeting with teammates in time zones all over the world was not without its challenges, teaching students the valuable life lesson of balance and discipline that has become increasingly important as companies switched to hybrid work models during COVID-19 pandemic.

“How to connect with your team and audience from the other side of a laptop camera is certainly a challenge for us all, but in today’s high-tech world it is equally as valid a life-skill as standing on a stage or in front of a crowded classroom,” said Robert Daly, assistant dean for the BS in Global Business and Ground Floor Coordinator. “Being able to project confidence, control your fears, stay focused and remember your main points–these skills translate just as well remotely as in-person, and students will likely find more opportunities to put them in practice as technology bridges the distance separating co-workers in their internships and future career experiences.”

Business with Purpose

“What does it mean to do business with a purpose?” asked Crucible Collective, a company creating eco-friendly jewelry with a focus on high transparency in every step of production, including a recycling program for pieces to be melted down and turned into new product. For the semi-finalist teams, the answer to this question came in the form of giving back, both financially and to the environment.

“Students have an innate sense of what is right and wrong in the world around them, and, in that sense, they never cease to impress us with their keen eye for solutions that address market opportunities and challenges while balancing their charge to pursue positive, sustainable approaches,” shared Daly.

Mask Accountant, a team selling sensors for measuring reusable mask efficiency, presented a $1 for every $100 in sales charitable giving plan as part of their financial report. Pacha Power, a Peruvian, plant-based shake powder, emphasized fair trade and improvement to stable income for Andean farmers. Biodegradable tea bag producers Rose Hill Tea Company highlighted the negative environmental impact of tea bags, and Rotation Rent tackled the problem of waste in the fashion industry with a direct-to-consumer streetwear fashion rental company.

Identifying New Opportunities

Resolar, this year’s winning team, focused their company on a solution to a budding problem in the solar power industry: the waste produced by old solar panels after they are replaced with newer, more efficient models. The company outlined their plans to recycle removed solar panels from installers at no cost to them and then sell them for parts to help recycle the various components and generate income.

Solar panel efficiency decreases over time, with an average lifespan only 20-25 years. With solar panel installation beginning to flourish in the late 1990s, more and more panels are currently needing to be replaced for newer, more effective models, making Resolar’s business plan exemplary and forward-thinking.

“Our winning team highlighted an overlooked and very non-green aspect of one of the green movement’s foundational technologies, solar power,” remarked Daly.

“In the end, all of the teams impressed the audiences and the judges as well, with the hard work, ingenuity, and creative problem-solving they showcased in their presentations.”

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