Texas Tech University

Cash is King

Kay Boren

August 8, 2019

Rawls Competition Develops Real Sales for Startups

The CEO of RSI has a not-so-secret weapon as he works to get his startup's product on the market quickly. As you know from our last blog, ProteX is a uniquely designed sperm collection container with promise to be a game-changer for couples and clinics dealing with fertility issues.

RSI is partnering with a team of students involved in a new competition launched in May by the Texas Tech Rawls College of Business. The Sales and Customer Relationship Strategy Competition pairs groups of students with companies to work on real-life strategic sales-related issues for four months. Students are exposed to the "build, operate, transfer model." The competition provides student exposure to real products to develop a sales strategy that is transferred to the company as a proven working model with actual sales. Thousands of dollars in scholarships go to the winning student teams while the six participating companies get cutting edge advice and help.

Dr. Mark Fish is assistant director of the Rawls College's new Center for Sales and Relationship Excellence. He is also a faculty mentor for the competition team, made up entirely by STEM MBA students in this case, working with RSI. He says, "The company has created a great product with tremendous value for the marketplace. The challenge is now commercialization. The adoption process in the market is traditionally very slow and it's a very nuanced purchase decision process. What we're trying to do is expedite that adoption process and diffusion into the marketplace." Dr. Fish says that starts with trying to understand the different types of customers for the company and buying processes, then creating a strategy and approach for each of those. "It augments the great iCorps customer discovery model taught at the Hub," he says.

John Smothers and the RSI team meet weekly at the Innovation Hub with the students and their faculty advisor. Dr. Fish says, "John and the others at RSI have been incredibly gracious in giving us their time, input, and access. It's very much an iterative process: learning, understanding, developing, testing, and repeating. Experiential learning benefits our students greatly and obviously, our goal is to help RSI achieve its sales goals."

The competition ends in the first week of October, which is also when the Rawls College of Business will hold a recruiting fair. A panel of judges at a public event will determine the competition winners. Those students with the best "hustle" will excel in the competition.

Dr. Fish says this collaboration with an Innovation Hub tenant startup and TTU Accelerator Program graduate makes great sense all around. "I can see a phenomenal fit. We're all part of the same community. Good things are going to be transpiring and hopefully, we're going to do it again and again."