The NRF Foundation Student Challenge featuring STORY is back! This business case competition was created for undergraduate college students with entrepreneurial spirits, sharp business acumen and creative minds pursuing any degree major relevant to retail such as business, finance, entrepreneurship, merchandising and buying, marketing, public relations and communications, graphic design and more. Since its launch, the NRF Foundation Student Challenge has provided more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to students across the country.
The 2019 scenario:
You are members of the creative, editorial and merchandise teams at STORY. Rachel Shechtman, the founder and CEO of STORY, has asked for new STORY ideas to pitch to potential sponsors: The Home Depot, IBM and Kroger. The STORY will run for four weeks at any time of the year. Partner with two to four other team members to collaborate on a 30-page pitch presentation and a 90-second pitch video to convince the chief marketing officer of your sponsor company to select your ‘story.’
Your team must choose one of the sponsors to focus on and create your own theme for STORY.
Set in a 2,000-square-foot store located on Manhattan’s 10th Avenue retail corridor, STORY is a retail concept that takes the point of view of a magazine, changes like a gallery and sells things like a store. That means every four to eight weeks, STORY completely reinvents itself — from the design to the merchandise — with the goal of bringing to light a new theme, trend or issue. STORY serves as a matchmaker between brands and consumers, integrating strategies of marketing, merchandising and business development. As part of its unique model, STORY uses merchandise as part of its editorial content, meaning each product and brand helps shape the editorial lens.
STORY launched in beta as a “Startup Store” in 2011, spotlighting emerging digital retailers, and has gone on to showcase concepts including “Color,” “Making Things,” “Have Fun” and “Love,” working with sponsors including American Express, Intel and Target. Constants of its ever-changing model include a view of retail that goes beyond the transaction and a permanent space where the experience is everything and collaboration tells a STORY.
The NRF Foundation Student Challenge is exclusively open to student members of the NRF Student Association through the NRF University Member program. Each member school can submit two teams; interested applicants must check with their school’s NRF Student Association Advisor to see how they are selecting teams to enter. Your advisor will receive specific instructions on how to register entrants for the Student Challenge, and how to upload business plans and pitch videos.
To join the NRF Student Association as a student member, your school must be a member of NRF. We currently partner with dozens of colleges and universities across the United States to promote careers in retail and provide students with exclusive access to educational, networking and scholarship opportunities. All students at member schools are eligible to join the NRF Student Association for free.
To find your advisor, or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This competition has inspired me to think beyond the status quo. STORY has shown me how innovative retail can be and I’m excited to take what I’ve learned during the Student Challenge and come up with my own inventive ideas.”
- Kendall McDermott, Columbia College Chicago
The Student Challenge enforced our idea that that retail industry is consistently evolving, especially as it relates to technology. The challenge also showed how important data is for a growing business and how said data informs retail strategists.”
- University of Pennsylvania Team