New Venture Design students from Sauder chase a business dream with EasyPlug


VANCOUVER – A team of UBC students from the innovative Sauder School undergraduate class COMM486: New Venture Design are chasing a business dream after placing second at the 2009 Enterprize Canada Business Competition, winning $10,000 of investor funding, and qualifying for an audition on CBC’s venture capitalist television program Dragon’s Den. The UBC team, EasyPlug, has developed an innovative concept of safe disconnection of electric plugs to prevent injury of both person and property due to tripping.

Sauder marketing instructor Paul Cubbon, who is co-facilitating the course this term with engineering Professor Philippe Kruchten, says Easyplug’s invention is a simple solution that meets a real problem – which is the successful recipe for any new product.

Established in 2005 jointly by the Sauder School of Business and UBC Engineering – and designed by marketing professor Darren Dahl and electrical and computer engineering professor Peter Lawrence -- COMM486: New Venture Design focuses on supporting teams consisting of students from both fields to come up with a new business venture. The class continues to garner attention in both academic and industry circles. “This year, all of the (New Venture Design) teams have risen to the challenge,” notes Cubbon. “I am proud to be associated with them.”

Cubbon says the new venture design course is about empowering students and allowing them to “walk the talk.”

“The [professors] give so much guidance to the students without actually telling them what to do,” says Max Miller, a Sauder student and one of EasyPlug’s co-founders. “The level of teaching is at a very high level. If you are a student interested in entrepreneurship and looking for a challenge, then this class is a must!”

His team, fresh off the impressive showing at JDC West, is already revising its business plan for upcoming business competitions in Toronto and Vancouver.
The team is also preparing for its upcoming appearance on Dragon’s Den.

“At every competition, judges provide different feedback about our product and help improve our business, so to prepare for Dragon's Den we plan on creating an advisory board with leaders of the local business community,” says EasyPlug teammate Ryan Fetterly. “The Dragons try to catch you off guard so it's our job to go in there as sharp as possible."

As for the future, the students from EasyPlug say they will be developing product prototypes and seeking financing for the rest of 2009.

Three members of the team will be working full-time for EasyPlug over the summer. The team hopes to streamline distribution and marketing by 2010, and to have a product ready to roll out by 2011. They also hope to follow in the footsteps of EnergyAware and PeerFX, companies that were launched by students in the New Venture Design course previously and went on to enjoy commercial success.