Bobby Gianniny has always had a hint of interest in entrepreneurship, but lately he’s taken a headlong plunge, as he was recently named a finalist in the West Virginia College Business Plan Competition.
Gianniny is a graduate of Jefferson High School and currently a senior in industrial engineering at West Virginia University, and DashPlain, Gianniny’s business plan, has its roots in his early years at WVU.
“The inspiration came to me when I was a freshman engineering student at West Virginia University,” he said. “During our first year, we are subject to a lot of team projects, which are super cool, because they bring you great skills experiences, both technically and more leadership and soft skills, which is all is great. But a lot of students don’t get the most out of these projects because they might not have much teamwork experience in high school, or they might be a little intimidated by a new college experience. All of this just adds a lot of stress and poor results when it comes to final grades and the skills you take away. Thinking back on that experience, I thought, “I wonder if other students have similar concerns .”
Giannini described DashPlain as “a streamlined project management app built by students for students.” He explained that there are no tools that students can use immediately at an affordable price.
Speaking with other students and faculty on campus, Gianniny realized he wasn’t the only one dealing with the stress of group work, with many looking for ways to better approach projects and planning. with the others. It inspired Gianniny to help other students get the most out of their academic journey.
“Why not make it as simple as possible? Just create a one-stop-shop for students to come and organize their teams early on to alleviate some of that stress in the future,” he said.
Gianniny added: “I may have been just a stressed student a few years ago, but talking to other students who are currently in this position or not too far off from a position like this definitely adds a lot of fuel to the fire and a lot of momentum. »
Gianniny said he always wanted to start his own business, but never thought of himself as an entrepreneur. However, his college experiences gave him the courage to take that initial leap into competition, and see his original 90-second pitch grow to where it is now as he prepares for the final presentation. is exhilarating.
“I was absolutely blown away (to be named a finalist). It’s definitely a lot of work, but you know you’re coming up against some of the best minds in the state,” Gianniny said. What’s really exciting is that this competition brings together so many great people and resources. Having the opportunity to continue working on the process is an incredible honor and something that I’m so excited about. The end goal, the potential target for the award, is something that I’m obviously excited about, to put this into action, but really, I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity to keep working and to keep pushing my idea towards implementation.
“It’s surprising when you look at where you started and where you are. But looking back, it makes a lot of sense. This process really opened my eyes to all the considerations you need to take into account when forming a business idea. When I started this business, I was a little skeptical about whether I could report on so many different things, but I have to give huge thanks to not only the West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition, but also Launch Lab, here at West Virginia University, because they provide all the students here who have potential business ideas with tremendous resources.
The final pitch on April 6 in person in Charleston, among the other six finalists, will be a highlight of the year for Gianniny, who said it can sometimes be a lonely experience with just him and his computer bringing DashPlain to life. . He looks forward to hearing the other presentations, as great examples of the entrepreneurial spirit and focus for growth seen across the state.
He said the experience throughout the competition process gives him confidence for a possible future that includes starting his own businesses.
“It definitely gave me a lot of confidence in the fact. In fact, I grew up admiring my father’s entrepreneurial spirit. He went out and started his own businesses a few times,” Gianniny said. “Seeing the work he does, it still feels like that insurmountable effort that can only be accomplished through decades and decades of experience. Although I’m sure I’m nowhere near the amount of knowledge that he has or that a lot of other top business leaders across the state and country (have), seeing that when you look at some really good resources available and combine that with an insight that you is really exciting, seeing how this combination can lead to tangible results, it has certainly given me a lot of confidence and inspiration. I am excited to continue on this adventure and even look to the future. I will definitely have this memory in mind, playing in the background to perhaps motivate me for other projects as well.
Gianniny explained that the seven finalists were chosen from an initial pool of just over 100 applicants in the college division – there is also a high school division. He’s excited to work with 3 Steps to Start Up and the Robert C. Byrd Institute on his latest pitch, knowing that if he were to win, the prize money would fund DashPlain’s future.