Hundreds team up to support small business owners

: April 13, 2021

More than 450 MBA students, business owners, and business mentors nationwide participated in the third Small Business School Challenge competition to support small businesses

For Immediate Release–   This past weekend, hundreds of MBA and graduate students from prestigious universities all across America joined forces in response to the economic challenges small businesses are facing right now. 

The Small Business School Challenge was a 48 hour virtual accelerated workshop and business strategy ‘hackathon’ April 8-10th that paired real local small business owners with teams of MBA students to create a plan forward to succeed.

The event brought together 100 small business owners, to receive support, ideas, and guidance from their MBA teams in addition to dozens of business mentors and judges of the competition. Thanks to sponsorships and donations, nearly $9,000 in prize money is being distributed to 8 small businesses as a result of the challenge and the efforts their MBA teams made on their behalf. The entire virtual event was facilitated with technology from official sponsor RingCentral.

We’d like to congratulate the top 3 National Winners from this challenge event:

National First place: MBA team from Carnegie Mellon University – Heinz College, Emily Skopov, Ruchita Dunung, and Gisselt Gomez representing their business client Bagelati

National Second place: MBA team from UC Berkeley – Haas School of Business, Drew Schneider, Deudutta Negori, and Varun Tyagi representing their business client BookBuyers

National Third place: MBA team from Washington University in St.Louis – Olin School of Business, Arajit Samanta, Scott Horan, and Michael Weaver representing their business client Ted Rhodes Foundation

For a full list of all national and school winners online visit

Enthusiasm for the event has been overwhelmingly positive from both MBA students and the small businesses they support. According to MPM Candidate Emily Skopov, member of the winning team from Carnegie Mellon, “As the daughter of a small business owner who worked six days a week throughout my entire childhood, as well as having owned a small business myself and currently running a small nonprofit, this event held profound personal resonance. My teammates also felt the kind of empathy and passion that fueled their desire to give our client the best possible solution to the challenges he’s currently facing.”

The Small Business School Challenge is committed to continuing to support small business by challenging MBAs to build solutions that support main street America. “After hosting 3 virtual events in the less than a year since the pandemic disrupted life as we know it, we are more convinced than ever that leveraging the insights, resourcefulness, and genuine desire to make a difference MBA students possess on behalf of small businesses is a winning model to bring real impact and innovation where it’s needed most” shared SBSC Executive Director Katrina Cobb.

You can follow the developments of the SBSC as they collate all the knowledge and resources for small businesses to share on their website, You can also follow their social channels @thesbschallenge on Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIN.

Congratulations to all the MBAs who rose to the challenge to support small business, and to the schools and independent professionals who supported this third event. 

About the Small Business School Challenge

The SBSC was originally conceived as a way to bring strategic help to small business owners in the wake of COVID-19, but will continue to meet both the needs of small businesses in America and of MBAs to gain exposure and experience to the small business world.

Katrina Cobb
SBSC Executive Director