The Melting Pot

© Michael S. Lehman, MD, MBA, 2011, University of Pittsburgh
NA Name
The Melting Pot
Students are asked to individually make a list of five things they enjoy doing, such as interests, hobbies and sports (five minutes). Participants then form into groups of three and share their lists of interests. Student then take one idea from each of their respective lists and blend them to create a business idea (ten minutes). 
For example, student one may have an interest in sports, student two an interest in architecture and student three an interest in writing. Their final business idea? A magazine focusing on the architecture of sports stadiums throughout the world. Or three students with interests in software design, chemistry and music propose a new product in which students conduct virtual chemistry experiments to popular songs…taking the science laboratory into homes…without the mess and with some entertainment! 
After providing these examples to the class, the faculty member circulates in the room to encourage and assist the students (ten minutes). The students then share with the entire class their three blended interests and the resulting product or service (ten minutes). Next, the students answer three questions in their group (fifteen minutes):
·      Who is your target market?
·      What is your competitive advantage?
·      What is your business name and associated logo?
The class concludes with students sharing their responses to the three questions, with the faculty member highlighting teaching points based on the responses (ten minutes).
brainstorming & creativity
This exercise can be extended to fill 90 minutes, or even two 60-minute class periods. Student learn the benefits of teaming with business partners that have different talents than their own, making the company’s competitive advantage more difficult to replicate. This exercise can be used for high school students, college students, and even adults! This lends to a discussion about target markets, and who the ultimate customer is for the product or service. Students can spend time actually creating a logo, tying in elements of marketing.