Students pitch their businesses at annual GCM expo

Ellie Voutsinas hands out digital prints of stickers, business cards, flyers and cupcakes with digital printed logos of ‘Pastels & Promenade’ logo to passers-bys.

Along with group members Ali Fattahi, Tak Po Chu, Deborah Lewis and Harleen Sign, she created Pastels & Promenade, a business prints on food items with a special inkjet printer.

Elli_Voutsinas (right) Ali Fattahi (right)  (Sonia El Boury / Ryersonian Staff)

Elli_Voutsinas (right) Ali Fattahi (right) (Sonia El Boury / Ryersonian Staff)

Her booth was set up alongside those of 100 other students and their 25 potential businesses showcased at the Heidelberg Centre on March 25 for the annual Graphic Communications Management Business Plan Expo.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase all of their ideas, but also a chance to vocalize and verbalize to people that are there,” said Diana Brown, the fourth year business-management instructor and an expo coordinator.

In September, students in the fourth-year course teamed up to create a business of their choice relating to their industry. “It can be print, design-based, branding, or technology,” said Brown.

Like other booths, Voutsinas’ presentation was interactive. Her group’s booth had some examples of printed food, posters, buttons and stickers, as well as some copies of their their business plan.

“We, as a group, tried to come up with a service or need for consumers in the industry,” said Voutsinas. “We came up with printing on the desserts because we saw a niche market for speciality items for celebrity events, but a lack of resources.”

Voutsinas’ group focused on the technological concept of food printing, which is, “not to be confused with 3D printing,” according to her.

“We do direct-to-surface inkjet style, there’s no need for a middle surface or to do any transferring.”

Students were given a mock start-up fund of $15,000 each, and were free to create any business of their choice. They needed to satisfy a need in the marketplace, by thinking about why their business offering stands out.

“In the course of the three years leading up, (students) would have taken accounting, management, HR, premedia, printing, binding, in collaboration with their internship,” said their instructor, Brown.

“They have a good understanding of theory and come back to launch on paper an idea based on their practical as well as theoretical experiences in GCM.”

Another showcase at the event was Fold it, a cardboard furniture retailer, that produces and cuts cardboard furniture for people across Toronto.

“Right now sustainability is a hot trend, where everyone wants to be green, disposable and economically friendly,” said founder Arnold Chan.

Paper Plane Planners, another business, offers a wide variety of day planners. The group felt that there was a gap in marketplace in terms of planners.

“Our target demographic is women ages 18 to 28, and we just found that there was not a lot of options,” said group member Lauren Riihimaki.

The GCM Business Expo isn’t the end for the students’ business plans.

“A lot of students will run with their business plans [following graduation],” said Brown, who graduated from the program eight years ago. Her fourth-year group launched their business last year.

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