MBA students at the University of Nevada, Reno create a marketing plan to help launch a local brewery

MBA students at the University of Nevada, Reno create a marketing plan to help launch a local brewery

Courses based on client projects at Faculty of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno provides experiential learning opportunities at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Dr. Igor Makienko, associate professor of marketing, and dr. Jessica Rixom, assistant professor of marketing, regularly takes local clients to her classes, including undergraduate marketing core courses and marketing courses offered in the college’s MBA program.

“We consider client projects an important means of synthesizing marketing knowledge from different fields,” said Makienko. “I hope projects like this help support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Reno Sparks area.”

Students enrolled in MBA program developed an integrated marketing communication plan for a new local brewery, Slieve Brewing Companyin Makienko’s class during the spring semester of 2022.

Slieve Brewing Company is owned and operated by Philip Mountain and his family. The business opened on October 8. Mountain began brewing beer as a homebrewer and decided to open his own craft brewery after winning multiple awards at homebrew competitions. As a small start-up, Mountain sought help from Nevada Small Business Development Centerwhich referred him to Makienko’s class as a resource for marketing assistance.

“[The students] understood our vision from the beginning,” said Mountain. “I was really impressed with the amount of research they put into their presentations. I would highly recommend the partnership to other companies, especially start-ups.”

Flags of Scotland, United Kingdom, Ireland, United States, Nevada, University of Nevada, Reno and Slieve Brewing Co.  they hang above the brewing department of the brewery.
The flags hanging from the ceiling at Slieve Brewing Company center represent the country, culture and community. The idea to make a flag for the company came from one of the students involved in the project.

The Nevada Small Business Development Center routinely refers local businesses to college marketing classes as clients. Past client projects include Reno Aces, Artown, Protect Your Tail and Desert Sun Bagel Company. Over the past eight years, over 30 clients have been sent to classes at the College.

“Working with Slieve Brewing Company has helped me take the knowledge and skills I’ve learned so far on my MBA and actually apply them to a local business,” said Emma Condon, a student in Makienko’s class. “It was more than just a school project. I felt that we had a great responsibility for the success and opening of new local business.”

Students use resources, such as databases, through the Knowledge Center to conduct research to develop their plans. Working together in small groups, they create a presentation of their plan, which they then present to the business owner during class. Through feedback from small business owners, they refine their ideas to create realistic marketing strategies based on client resources.

“It was really nice to work with a start-up because it gave us more flexibility,” said Reed Parkhurst, another business student who worked on the Slieve Brewing Company project. “We need to help build the business and develop the whole brand. I learned a lot about the creative aspects of running a business that will help me start my own business after I graduate.”

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