Andrew Levine, SPA/BA '86 and CEO of JADS International, comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Both his father and grandfather manufactured and sold shoes. At American University, Levine found his passion for business and continued his family’s entrepreneurial legacy.
Originally, Levine wanted to tie law and business together, but an internship changed his path.
"For a short period of time, when I was at American University, I interned at a law firm and right away I knew it was not for me. Business was the way I wanted to go…it was the best decision I ever made," Levine said.
After graduating, Levine wanted to jump straight into business. For a short time, he worked for a small family company before pursuing his own endeavors.
He flourished in the business world, first at Stone Care International (SCI) in 1990. Levine developed surfacing products and sealants for granite and stone before selling SCI in 2004.
Levine's latest development, Sunburn Alert, a JADS International product, focuses on skin care instead of stone care. Wanting to gain millennial perspective on marketing the UV-detecting wristband, Levine returned to his alma mater to partner with first-year MBA students.
"I know that the school has very high standards for their education and students… it has always been very reliable," said Levine
During the course of the spring semester, Levine tasked student groups with devising a strategic marketing plan for Sunburn Alert. They used guidelines and resources from Levine to tackle to project.
"We were given a fictional budget of $250,000 to increase brand awareness and market share," said Steve Beam, MBA '16.
Groups conducted primary and secondary research to evaluate the marketplace. Surveys and interviews helped them understand the target market's attitudes towards skin care and their awareness of Sunburn Alert.
"After getting a better understanding of…recent trends, we sent out a survey of questions to about 100 people…[and] conducted four in-depth interviews with acquaintances to learn about the potential market and hear customers' opinions," said Kendra Clark, MBA '16.
In late April, the groups presented their findings for Levine and his wife, Julie, SOC/BA '87. Expectations were high, as Levine was eager to see what his company could improve upon.
"Having the students do their own research gives us new avenues and new ways to look at the market and understand who we're selling to," said Levine. "Other people’s hindsight is important for our foresight," he said.
Beam and Clark's group focused on building brand awareness through corporate partnerships.
"We suggested working with dermatologist offices in [Washington, D.C.] to hand out [Sunburn Alert bracelets] at each visit and partnering with amusement park resort properties to provide samples," said Beam.
Levine was impressed with the students' presentations and plans to use some of their suggestions.
"I critiqued each presentation. All of the students did a great job," said Levine. "I was able to teach students the actualities and the reality of what takes place in running a business," he said.
"We've already updated our website and are working from a new social media plan based on students' suggestions. Buying season starts in July for 2016, and some of the concepts they had, we’re actually going to introduce," said Levine.