As we all know, it’s costly to participate in FIRST. Especially if you build multiple bots, go to multiple competitions, and host your own events. And a big help for that is having a proper business division in your team that can help organize, get sponsors, fundraise etc.
For the past 4 years I’ve been on my team and talking to seniors before me it seems we’ve only really had at max 1-2 person who’s been interested in Business. Luckily we have an amazing mentor that’s been around the past 10 years that really helps and steps up for our team on the Business side, but we want students to get involved as well. As one of the leaders on my team I wish to try expanding our Business team but the question is, how would we get people actually interested in Business? And secondly, what all does your Business team do? Do they just do Business related things or do they help out with recruitment(Like we want our team to do) or what?
I’m new to this (sub-team). What exactly is Business?
Basically the way our team is organized currently is in separate “teams” or divisions. We have Fabrication/Assembly, Electronics, Design, Programming, and Business. Business is what handles fundraising money, obtaining sponsors, chairmans(though we haven’t done a proper chairmans in over a decade due to the small Business side), and recruitment for our team at least. Being our team is completely student-led we strive to have students do the work but on other teams that may not be the case. We’ve been lucky to have a mentor stick with us for the past 10 years doing almost all our Business stuff but we want that to be changed.
Few questions based on fundraising- (some that i’ve noticed from my team too)
Every time we discuss fundraising, literally all the members on my team just stare blankly ahead, even though it’s understood that it is necessary. (Psychodynamic) in the elementary school, we were told to “fundraise” by selling some pretty much unsellable/unnecessary stuff. These happened to be Candles (EVERY DARN YEAR), and eventually “fundraising” just became jokes. Literally everyone who’s been through it weren’t able to sell a lot, and wince at “We gotta fundraise to do this…” Eventually, people just gave up on putting effort into fundraising because they’d rather be doing other stuff (even though some prizes were good). The entire 4th-8th grade “forced fundraising” has killed the vibe.
Is fundraising done by just the business team?
Is the fundraising you do fun at all?
Our team does fundraising a different way now. We built furniture and raffled them off. A 2-seater indoor bench was profited to $800 < x < $850 the first year we did it. We built the same one last year but couldn’t get enough people to work on it so we haven’t sold it yet. The biggest downfall of this style- Students “are rushed” to sell the tickets. The longer the build is, the more things are pushed back, to the point it’s June.
So if you have willing students to build, (sand, paint, etc.) and sell the tickets, you could get a pretty high profit out of it.
There are separate Fundraising discussions on Chief Delphi, I advise you to check them out. As for our team, what I meant by Fundraising is that the Business team organizes such events. We have fun fundraising surprisingly, but we ourselves have problems getting fundraisers going due to a lack of a Business team to help handle that.
You might be looking at the problem the wrong way. Rather than trying to get people interested in business, maybe you should try recruiting people who are already interested in business.
My high school had an FBLA club, no idea how common this is though. If your school has a similar club try reaching out to them.
Our school does have various Business clubs such as FBLA(actually have a very successful FBLA team), but our problem derives of the fact that no one is ever interested. We advertise our team out to our school stating over and over again that we aren’t just a “robotics” club. But we can never seem to find anyone who does Business interested in joining and no one in the team is interested in learning.
We have a similar problem, I think it stems from the fact that people think robotics is just using big machines and drills. Try to find individual people who would benefit the team, and the team would benefit them, then personally recruit them.
Your advertising needs to say more than “not just robotics”. It needs to spell out what people who are not interested in the mechanical and programming aspects would get out of being on your team. There may have to be different ads for each type of team member the team is wanting to recruit showing the benefits of them joining your team.
Students interested in a career in business can get experience managing finances and fundraising. Some can get practical experience in project management. Those interested in photography and filmmaking can work with writers to document your teams progress. Maybe students interested in graphic arts can help create your new ads. It might be possible to persuade some teachers to allow some of this work to count towards a students grades…
You are recruiting as if you are building up a typical tech company. They don’t attract finance people by talking about their technology.
Completely agree with philso.
Reach out directly to the FBLA club and see if you can make a 10-15 min presentation. Quickly summarize FIRST, but spend the majority of the time describing what business opportunities are on the team.
Remember you only need to get one new team member out of this presentation. If that one student has a good experience on the team word can spread quickly. You may soon find out you have too many prospective business team members.
My younger son went into a business/management program in college instead of engineering. So did an alumni from another nearby team. Neither want to go work for big corporations when they graduate. Both figure that when some of their friends open their own start-ups, they will look to their friends from the FIRST community for technical people so they have a good chance to work with their friends again
Definitely agree with many of the ideas here. We had a similar problem after we graduated every member of our business directorate in 2017.
Our team recruits in two main ways: at the school club fair, and by current students encouraging other students to join. So we ask students to talk to their classmates who are interested in finance, graphic design, videography, etc. and at the club fair we state clearly that there are things to do for students of all interests.
Another way that we garnered heavy interest for the 2018 season was through media mentors. We had a trio of mentors from the film indsutry who decided to offer internships to students on the business team. Not surprisingly, that was very attractive to skilled upperclassmen.
In general though, being clear in your recruitment that it’s more than just building and coding a robot, that robotics can be kind of like running a company and that there’s all aspects involved, you can get students with a very diverse set of interests. And our business team has been VERY successful in the past two years of employing these recruitment strategies.
The Business team presents opportunity just as any other part of the team. Maybe let prospects know they will be the students who talk to potential sponsors also known as potential employers. On our team it is the business team that sets up most of the outreach, thus they tend to be the group doing robot demos. The students on the business team may have more opportunity to develop refined professional skills due the interaction with sponsors. Also on our team those on the business team are not excluded from participating in any other part of the team. So they can bring in the bacon and weld on a belly pan.
I may be biased as both of my son’s led the business team as CBO prior to leading the team as CEO. And both found deep interest in the challenge, as such that they were inspired to pursue the experience in their college study, one in Poly Sci and the other in Business.
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