The Inside Scoop: Working with Verizon and the Redskins in 490H

By Jacob King (Q27)

When exploring the University of Maryland during one’s freshman year, a program that typically intrigues the highest achieving students is the QUEST Honors Program. And why shouldn’t it? The students in the program get to learn hands-on consulting skills and their capstone project involves applying design thinking, process innovation and systems thinking to a real world company and problem. Clients range from small, one-person companies to Fortune 500 companies, but they all demand long hours and commitment from teams.

The 4Gs at the Redskins Stadium

This semester, Cohort 25 is working on 11 capstone projects with a variety of companies. So how did one project lead a team to an exclusive tour of Redskins stadium? I reached out to the 4G’s to find out.

Cohort 25 students Pranav Khatri, Eleanna Makris, Alex Jerome, and Steven Kurapaty, also known as the 4G’s, have spent the semester working with their project sponsor, Verizon Smart Venues, and the Washington Redskins. This project relates to a new initiative by the Redskins which focuses on how fans interact with the team at away games. At its core, the scope of the project revolves around creating a medium for Redskins fans to gather at away games in cities where they are typically the minority fan base. Currently, the team holds bar events near stadiums during away games. However, there is no way to measure or track the turnout and demographic of such events.

The goal of the QUEST capstone project is to better understand who is coming to these events so that the Redskins are able to better engage with their fans. The most recent step in the team’s data collection involved testing what a bar rally might entail. In order to do this, the team took advantage of the finals for March Madness and conducted their own “bar rally” at Looney’s in College Park. According to team member Pranav Khatri, “We were hoping to get a breadth of differing demographics to attend our event. To tackle this, we decided to use Snapchat filters as well as Facebook advertisements before and during the event to gather different crowds of people. The Facebook ads were aimed at anyone 18 and over so believed we could attract a variety of people.”

In terms of collecting data at the event, Khatri added, “We created a two-tier solution. First, and most open to all users, the person texts a phone number to receive a giveaway and a link to our website. The user can then click on that link and sign in through Facebook to receive another giveaway. For this solution, we used a Twilio text messaging service to receive and send texts, Heroku to host our website and databases, PHP Facebook SDK for our website for Facebook authentication, and PostgreSQL as the database to store the information.”

The QUEST team, whose students are majoring in marketing, computer science, biology, and biochemistry, has found this scope to be challenging but very rewarding thus far. They expressed having to learn a lot of new skills to add to their own personal arsenals, mainly within the business sector such as marketing and accounting. Their biggest challenge so far has been effectively handling the intersection of the two clients and making sure that all requirements are fulfilled.

If you are interested in seeing the final recommendations from this exciting project and others, be sure to RSVP for the QUEST Conference on May 4th!

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