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The Dose

University of Pacific Team Discusses Its Path to the Business Plan Competition Finals

by Michael Rule | Sep 29, 2017

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On Oct. 14, students from three pharmacy schools will make live presentations in the finals of the Good Neighbor Pharmacy NCPA Pruitt-Schutte Student Business Plan Competition. These presentations will be held during the NCPA 2017 Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla. and are open to Convention attendees (there is still time to register!). Those who attend are treated to fresh, innovative ideas from these aspiring entrepreneurs, some of which can be replicated in existing pharmacies.

Since the inaugural competition in 2004, in which six schools submitted entries, the contest has grown in popularity. This year, 34 pharmacy schools submitted entries, and, for the fourth time, a team from the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is among the three finalists, having won the competition in 2005.

The team, comprised of Mary Anne Choi, Salley Park, Michael Sun and Michael Xu, outlined their proposal and shared their thoughts on the competition with NCPA.

NCPA: What made you consider a career in independent community pharmacy and to ultimately enter this contest?

University of Pacific (UP) Team: All of the members of our team come from business backgrounds (three of us are pursuing MBAs) and we all really enjoyed trying to come up with something new to bring to the world of pharmacy. The contest let us utilize our skills in a pharmacy setting, and the combination of coming up with viable business ideas that could also best take care of patients was appealing.

NCPA: Can you sum up the highlights of your proposed plan to purchase or start an independent community pharmacy? What makes the independent community pharmacy that you propose to purchase or open stand out from other retail pharmacies in the area?

UP Team: We plan to purchase an existing independent pharmacy and introduce a variety of clinical services centered on women's health, including hormone replacement therapy, skin care with an in-house esthetician, and sterile compounding. Our marketing strategy plans to differentiate ourselves from the competition by emphasizing our ability to meet current unmet needs in the area for skin care and specialty compounded products.

NCPA: For those who are unfamiliar with the competition, can you describe the time and effort that went into writing your business plan? How many hours a week? What was the most unusual or surprising thing you had to do in preparing? What about your preparations for the live presentation in Orlando?

UP Team: Working on the business plan was definitely a big project. It took a span of two months to start planning, researching, and writing. It probably took an average of six to eight hours a week working on this big project. The most difficult part about working on the business plan was trying to find time together as a team. Throughout the process, we made it a goal to be in the same room as much as possible when working on the business plan. Of course, there were times when it was impossible to do so, but when we were together we made the most progress.

NCPA: What else would you like to tell people about the competition?

UP Team: Participating in this competition has given us a newfound appreciation for entrepreneurs that are trying to make their pharmacy dream into a reality.

NCPA: What advice would you give students who may be interested in entering the business plan competition?

UP Team: The business plan competition is a great opportunity to explore what it takes for a pharmacy to succeed in the real world. By choosing the appropriate location, products, services, and market for your pharmacy, you gain entrepreneurial skills as a team. Not only do you learn how much time and effort goes into creating independent pharmacy, but also you gain effective communication and project management skills.

Here are some tips:

  • Find a good team to work with. Making time to work together face-to-face is incredibly beneficial.

  • Set aside a lot of time to brainstorm and discuss the mission and vision for your pharmacy.

  • Get advice from as many people as possible, such as professors, fellow students, business owners, and others, throughout the process.Follow the rubric.

NCPA: Anything you'd like to add regarding your pharmacy school or NCPA student chapter?
UP Team: Go Tigers!

Each of the three finalists will receive an award based on where they place:

  • First Place—$3,000 to the NCPA student chapter and $3,000 contributed to the school in the dean's name to promote independent pharmacy.

  • Second Place—$2,000 to the NCPA student chapter and $2,000 contributed to the school in the dean's name to promote independent pharmacy.

  • Third Place—$1,000 to the NCPA student chapter and $1,000 contributed to the school in the dean's name to promote independent pharmacy.

As an added bonus, the winning team will be featured in an upcoming issue of America's Pharmacist.