Weehawken High School students recently got a chance to design and market their own headphones, courtesy of an event by SuitUp, a non-profit dedicated to boosting “career awareness” for young pupils by organizing partnerships with corporate brands and schools.
Employees from UBS, a global marketing firm that partnered with SuitUp for the day, divided the students into four groups. Their challenge for the day? Design and market a new product for the popular Beats By Dre headphone brand.
The groups had to determine the target market for their product, financing, and the returns on each unit. They also came up with pitches and commercials, simulating the actual process that goes into bringing products from blueprint to shelves. Whichever group impressed the judges the most won $25 Amazon Prime gift cards.
But the real prize, according to SuitUp Event Coordinator Madeline Perez, was getting students to realize they can always aspire higher in life.
“One of our founders was working for Teach For America in Brooklyn, and she would ask the kids, ‘What do you guys want to be when you grow up?’” Perez said shortly before the event started. “The kids would say such things as, ‘Beyonce!’ and ‘LeBron!’ And while that’s really awesome – I mean, who wouldn’t wanna be Beyonce or LeBron? Can you blame them? – that was all they were exposed to. They didn’t know the different avenues that they could take. What do you want to be when you grow up? That’s a big question in and of itself.”
Marketing whizzes of the future
That message seemed to resonate with the WHS students. For senior Jennifer Acosta, interested in a possible dual career in marketing and mechanical engineering, the event only helped her confidence.
“One of the representatives from UBS, he was a mechanical engineer before he was a worker,” Acosta said during lunch break. “I like the idea of coming up with a new product and having to sell it and pitch the idea to a company.”
Acosta’s group’s idea involved a sound system for the home that plays music; each room would have pre-recorded voices from celebrities such as Rihanna and Drake that talk back to you if you wanted to change a song, for instance.
“It’s a good opportunity to find out more about my career, and learn more about working with different people-different ideas,” said Juan Arango, who plans on majoring in marketing in college. “This is all marketing-based, and I love it.”
“I wanna find what best fits (in regards to marketing) for every population,” he said. “People in Latin America don’t like the same things as people in America. In Europe, they might like soccer more than we do.”
Arango’s group focused on creating a more personalized Beats product that can adapt to any situation you may find yourself in.
“I would like to be in business and finance in the future, and I thought this was a great opportunity to learn something about it,” said Neel Maripeddi, whose group idea was a Beats product that can turn into speakers with pads attaching to walls.
“I take AP Economics and I’m also interested in doing something in business and finance in the future,” said Isabel Jaffoni. “I wanna do something math-related. I’ve been looking at actuaries-risk factors, insurance and stuff.”
Jaffoni’s group, which ended up winning the competition, came up with the idea of a Beats product that can transform into a necklace via magnet and molds to the individual owner’s ear.
For more information on how to bring SuitUp competitions to your school (they are only within the NYC area currently, but plan on expanding in the future), visit http://www.suitupnyc.com/suitupschools/