May 24, 2022

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Business Analytics Honors Program Students Collaborate with Sustainable Apparel Startup

Two student teams in BUS 459 Business Analytics Practicum worked with Project DXM, a startup whose mission is to help create custom apparel and footwear sustainably and effectively. The students were tasked with identifying business issues, confirming information needed with clients and applying business analytics tools and methodologies.

“Being a startup project, Project DXM was indeed a challenge of new technology for our practicum students, and they showed they were ready to take up any challenge,” said Sarah Khan, teaching associate professor in information technology and business analytics. “We had two teams working on this project. One team was focusing on the data analytics side and other on the systems analysis and design side.”

“From understanding the client’s requirements to doing research to find solutions in data analytics and presenting their solutions, they showed exceptional professionalism, attention to detail and diligence. The client was very happy with our students’ performance as they exceeded their expectations.”

The students were driven, inquisitive, knowledgeable and when the practicum was completed the students were able to further educate our DXM team on the task at hand than we had knowledge of ourselves.

Project DXM was a unique startup to work with as they are a global ecosystem with five founding members including Carharrt, Shahi, Busana Group, MAS, and Brandix.

“The engagement with the Poole College Of Management completely exceeded our expectations,” said Matthew Wallace, CEO of Project DXM. “The students were driven, inquisitive, knowledgeable and when the practicum was completed the students were able to further educate our DXM team on the task at hand than we had knowledge of ourselves.”

The students were divided into two teams based on their role assignments in competitors and customers insights and technology platform data, communication assessment and database design. 

Practicum Student Reflections

Competitors and Customers Insights

Dawson Taylor, senior, business management, marketing concentration

During her experience as a student in the data analytics program, Dawson Taylor found working with Project DXM as an incredible and memorable experience. Taylor was motivated by working with a client who was excited to collaborate with the practicum students. 

“I was able to learn more about the process of data mapping and understanding what it means to do industry-wide research to deliver client information that will be useful for them,” said Taylor.

For this experience, Taylor has learned that working with a startup requires patience and the ability to envision the full picture if it has not been materialized yet.

Hanna Gannett, senior, business management, marketing concentration

The ability to “self start” was an invaluable skill Hanna Gannett earned during her experience with DXM as she took a deliverable and turned it into results without the guidance of a rubric. Having the opportunity to do work that felt meaningful was motivating to Gannett and allowed her to have more pride in her work.

It gave me the chance to learn from and work with real financial data, something I haven’t been able to do as a marketing major,” said Gannett. “The work I contributed there was one of the first times I felt like the work I was doing in school was going toward something real and important.”

Rani Madhiwala, senior, business management, information technology concentration

Rani Madhiwala brought the technical skills she learned through her IT classes as well as her interpersonal skills when analyzing and communicating the deliverable for Project DXM. She learned new methods of creating models and analytics as well as how the infinite amount of parts of a startup play a part in a successful organization.

“I think it was a great experience and was very beneficial to work with a team with a variety of skill sets,” said Madhiwala. “Coming from a technical background, I learned more about the supply chain and marketing side of business which opened my eyes to new skills.”

Brendan Ferguson, senior, business management, operations and supply chain management concentration

The most valuable thing Brendan Ferguson learned through working with Project DXM is how much detail and risk goes into how a startup works. While classes at Poole brushed the surface of startups, the hands-on experience allowed Ferguson to take a deep dive into what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

“I dream to one day take the risk of starting my own business, and luckily have been able to take a front seat to watch and even take part in the work in one I hope will thrive,” said Ferguson.

Another lesson Ferguson learned in the practicum process is how to effectively work with a client. Working with Matthew Wallace and others, Ferguson was able to learn how casual conversation makes meetings much more enjoyable and effective for everyone. 

Technology Platform Data, Communication Assessment & Database Design

Nicki Grouge, senior, business management, information technology concentration

Throughout BUS 459, Nicki Grouge learned about teamwork, responsibility and the importance of communication. Grouge was eager to share ideas and thoughts on the new technology concepts and was not afraid to ask questions or for help from her teammates. 

“This project was unlike any project I’ve ever had and it pushed me to improve upon my critical thinking and creativity as we navigated through new concepts and ideas,” said Grouge. “It challenged me to expand my technological knowledge into areas and industries that I never expected. I feel so much more confident and prepared for my career knowing that I could complete a project as technical as this one.”

Savannah Casto, senior, business management, information technology concentration

Savannah Casto used the practicum course to gain experience in effectively communicating in a team and with the sponsors. It was an area Casto had to constantly improve on as the semester went on as the deliverables became more rigorous and the team needed to coordinate time and efforts to achieve the team goals.

“Application Programming Interfaces (API) are something I knew very little about before this project, but I am now very confident in my ability to both reach and create API documentation, as well as actually designing the call and response elements for APIs,” said Casto. “In addition, I learned much about how many of the elements I’ve learned in class actually work in practice with real data and situations.”

Casto describes her practicum course as a demanding experience that required many technical skills acquired throughout her time at Poole College and has really grown from it.

Meg Aldridge, senior, business management, information technology concentration

While Meg Aldridge learned valuable lessons from her practicum experience, she felt prepared for the rigorous course from her Poole College classes improving her analytical skills. Aldridge gained valuable insight into the professional world and how she works in a team setting. 

“Since this is a technology unheard of in the apparel industry, and rather new in general, Nicki and I had to learn how to take research and create data points for DXM,” said Aldridge. “This project was the first real introduction I had to what it would be like to create a data architecture from scratch and how to use this baseline to create value for the firm.”

Aldridge sees the practicum course as the most transformative moment of her academic career at NC State and was inspired by DXM and the drive behind her team to reach their goals. 

Kathryn Sharpe, senior, business management, information technology concentration

Kathryn Sharpe was able to get a better understanding of what project management looks like of a technical project for an organization. Sharpe’s team was exposed to Universal Modeling Languages and implemented their classroom lesson to a real client. 

“I was able to provide value to my team by helping break down the clients ecosystem, as they work with over a dozen external partners,” said Sharpe. “This set our team up for success by making sure we had a firm understanding of the manufacturing industry before diving into any technical development.”