NRF Student Challenge: Made in America STORY
While we saw some amazing stories pitched at the NRF Student Challenge, Georgia Southern University students Keller Campbell, Jeffrey Licciardello, Alexis Montano, and Kelsey Wertz ultimately took home the grand prize. They teamed up with KPMG mentor Ali Wampler for a Made in America STORY – a concept that came with the unique challenge of having already been done at STORY.
Inspired by Me & The Bees‘ 11-year-old founder Mikaila Ulmer, the team recognized the power of “kidpreneurs” and millennials as a target market.
“Millennnials love a good origin story, and we think we can capture anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit with Made in America,” the team noted in their presentation.
Proposing to partner with JP Morgan Chase for their organizational reach and customer lifetime value, the Made in America concept took the framework of a home, divided into different sections: “Dress Up,” “Snack Time,” “Give Back,” “Big City,” “Play House,” and “Family’s Best Friend” (the team clearly did their homework and captured STORY’s love of dogs). Merchandising strategy leveraged the young entrepreneurial spirit of the STORY by focusing on products that were invented by young entrepreneurs, with remaining products incorporated to accent the young entrepreneur’s products. Many products, including Man Cans and Out of Print were selected for their give-back component.
Event programming included a mocktail party for kids (and their parents), “kidpreneur day” – a younger take on STORY’s #PitchNight, and a read-along with 16-year-old entrepreneur Maya Penn.
When tasked with envisioning “STORY 2.0,” the team created a Birchbox-esque subscription model for each STORY with STORY-branded merchandise. “The idea is to collect branded STORY merchandise that’s available to people who may live outside of New York, and to excite locals,” they noted.
The judges collectively agreed that the team’s Made in America concept had the greatest potential to expose new brands and create a greater impact on a global level.
“Ultimately, the abstract approach to Made in America is a perfect match to STORY’s business model,” the team concluded. “Young entrepreneurs, like STORY, are motivated everyday to pave a new path and to inspire a new way of thinking for generations to come. Made in America is an American kid with an American idea making products to build a better America.”
Reflecting on the experience of building a STORY while at a mocktail reception at Home for the Holidays, we caught up with Jeff Licciardello. “I’m a PR major and I work at the student magazine on campus. F-Word STORY really sold it for me,” he noted. “It’s a topical editorial concept, but the idea of translating that concept through retail product blew my mind.”