Thirteen students are spending their semester at NSCC on a marketing strategy for a company that has already been to market for nearly a decade.
That’s a lot of faith for an existing company to put into people who are still in school, but this crew is bringing a lot of experience to bear on a product that has already proven popular in Pictou county where it was first developed.
It’s called the Water Drill Tool for Plumbing Maintenance, and it uses water from the faucet to blast a high velocity jet of water into anything blocking up the sink.
The unit can be purchased at Pictou County’s two Home Hardware locations, and is also available on Canadian and American Amazon sites. But, the Applied Entrepreneurship class of second year business management students are working to make big in-roads with online sales in Canada and south of the border.
“There’s no awareness around the product at all and it’s hard to create excitement around something like this. So, we’re trying to take a creative, innovative approach to getting it out there,” said Devin Anderson who is on the group’s marketing team.
There’s a giant white board at the back of the room with what looks like a story-board drawn with blue marker.
“People’s attention spans are so short these days, so we’re actually going to be producing two, 30-second videos that are rather humorous in nature, but that still get the effectiveness across about water drills,” said Anderson who is from Thorburn.
The group works out of the John Hamm Centre for Innovation, a brand-new wing of the Stellarton NSCC campus which opened last Fall.
They all come to the project from different academic backgrounds ranging from accounting to marketing and business administration. That’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen.
The goal is to have a new social media marketing campaign up and running by the time everyone goes off to their individual work placements at the end of the semester. That leaves them until the end of April make a mark.
“Right now, we’re in the process of taking over their Facebook site. We’ll be shutting it down with a reboot in mid-March,” said Virginia Shaw who is finishing up her term at NSCC and moving to St.FX in September to complete a degree in business management. Before that, she had spent twelve years in the Canadian Armed Forces.
“When I applied (to St.FX) I gave them my military documents from my business administration, but they didn’t recognize that as a recognized learning institution. So, I had to come here to do the two years, and then I’ll go down there into the third year.”
Because the group has very little money to work with, Facebook’s built-in analytics and advertising tools are playing a key role in the group’s strategy.
“There are more businesses in Pictou County than just water drills, and there are more entrepreneurs. But one of the barriers to growth is capital,” said NSCC business administration instructor Kent Murray.
For Murray, the real-world experience that the NSCC students gain from this class is a win-win for students and businesses.
“If we can offer businesses 13 people for a four-month period to a run a project that’s strategic in terms of its scope, then their potential for growth is more viable than it would have been in the absence of something like this.”
Twice every month the class gets visited by local business people, as well as WaterDrills co-founder and owner of Pictou County’s home-hardware locations, Jim Proudfoot who reviews their proposals and provides guidance.
The students, who are working for free, seemed to agree with Murray.
“It’s an invaluable learning experience what we have here,” said Anderson. “It would be great if more companies could come in and let us be involved so we can get a real-world sense of how we’re going to apply the skills we’ve learned.”