Teach Business Today #11

App bans, franchises, and entertainment

Many of us never planned to teach our classes online.

Although our situations may be set now, there’s no saying where they will go through the school year. That is why it became important to plan for both.

Some courses, like entrepreneurship, will look completely different online versus in person.

If you’re curious about what others are planning or want to share your plans, click the above tweet.

Here are this week’s teaching ideas.


1. Etsy’s Hottest Selling Item

Students need to know how to recognize trends in business. Getting into a trend early will lead to profit.

If that item becomes mainstream, like masks for the foreseeable future, that profit timeline can have a dramatic extension.

This is an important article to share with students to make comparisons between real-world situations and the spending habits of consumers.

Discussion Points:

  • What makes reusable face masks on a site like Etsy more appealing to consumers?

  • What are the opportunities to make face masks a fashion staple or more socially acceptable?

  • Do you think it’s too late to try to sell products in this category? Why/why not?

Assignment Idea:

Something I plan to do is to have groups of students develop a face mask design for your school.

Many students will be self-conscious or afraid of judgement for wearing an optional mask. However, developing a school-based face mask could lead to a few opportunities.

  1. The school (or school store) could sell them to students to bring money back into the school.

  2. The school could decide to purchase them for every student and staff member to wear.

  3. Students will learn design principles that can carry over when recognizing future trends or opportunities.

Members of the school can vote on designs and the top ones can be produced and sold.

2. Back-To-School Spending During a Pandemic

The spending habits of school-age parents will look different depending on the student’s learning environment.

Are they in person? Let’s get school supplies, face masks and new outfits.

Are they online? Let’s get updated technology.

Teachers, parents, and students have adapted to an uncertain school year. Many forget that retailers have to do the same.

Discussing this with students will get them thinking about back-to-school from a different perspective.

Discussion Points:

  • How will COVID-19 impact the future of education? Will more teachers look to take advantage of technology spending go paperless when we return in class full-time? Do you believe this is the right or wrong move?

  • What types of items are most important for a student who’s learning in the classroom versus learning online?

  • Back-to-school shopping is the second most important time period behind the Christmas holidays for retailers. Do you believe more online learning will cause some retailers that don’t offer technology to go out of business?

Assignment Idea:

Have students develop a wish list of items they believe would allow them to successfully learn both in-person and online with the reasoning behind each.

You can then develop small groups (or breakout rooms) to analyze lists and come up with a master list.

Finally, the larger group can narrow down lists to see what types of items they feel are necessary. You can then look to see how each can transition between the two different types of learning environments.

3. Trump’s WeChat Ban

Students will know the information regarding the potential TikTok ban (or sale).

However, far fewer will know the impact of WeChat for people across the globe.

I believe it’s more important to teach students about what WeChat’s capabilities are, as it’s a staple in the day-to-day life in China.

If/when that technology comes to North America, it will have a major impact on many facets of our lifestyle.

Discussion Points:

  • How impactful would a WeChat ban have on North American citizens?

    • Many students will see it as minor if they have no knowledge of the app, but you can get them to think about others communicating with family or Chinese Americans using WePay at major retailers that accept it. For example, my wife’s parents use WeChat to communicate with family in China and the US simultaneously since there is no other app available.

  • What impact would WeChat’s capabilities have on our retail, financial, and service-offering businesses in North America?

  • If WeChat is removed from the Apple App Store, how should Apple move forward to reduce the financial ramifications of losing one of its biggest markers?

Assignment Idea:

WeChat has made life in China much more convenient. I believe that same thing should happen here.

In larger groups, have students brainstorm an app idea similar to WeChat. Encourage them to identify what things can be implemented directly into it with reasoning why. The goal will be to make the app as fluid as possible while also offering many different services.

I believe it’s a good idea to get students to learn about technology in other cultures. They may have a negative opinion on WeChat based on western media, but it’s hard to argue the positivities of the app in the Chinese community despite the security concerns.

4. The Rock’s XFL

Having a celebrity attached to a brand will lead to huge payoffs.

Having a celebrity owning a sports league is territory we aren’t familiar with.

This is a good talking point for students as it hits a lot of factors never before seen in the sports industry.

Competition is healthy, but the XFL continues to challenge a league that has never been replicated.

Discussion Points:

  • What can the XFL do differently to survive in its third attempt?

  • Do you believe competition can happen with the major North American sports or are the current leagues too powerful?

  • What impact will Dwayne Johnson have on the league’s popularity? Will that be enough to make it survive?

Assignment Idea:

Students will develop an elevator pitch to convince potential investors on why they should choose the XFL over the NFL.

Have students research the key differences between the two leagues to identify the main talking points. Some metrics I plan to get my students to look at are:

  • Rule changes

  • Targeted fanbase

  • Differences between the leagues and teams

  • Marketing

  • Player recruitment

This will be a challenging task as there are so many unknowns for the league. Students will gain a ton from this task, including research, public speaking, and persuasion techniques.

5. Mulan Streaming on Disney+

This move by Disney is important to discuss with students due to its overall impact on the film industry.

Traditional movie theatre releases have been the standard, but is it time for that to change?

Trolls World Tour had a successful streaming release. If Mulan can replicate or surpass that, what happens next?

Discussion Points:

  • Do you agree or disagree with the $30 price point to stream a new movie? Why?

  • Currently, the $30 permanent download is only available to Disney+ members. Should that change and be available to anyone for $30?

  • What impact will the potential success of this release have on movie theatres?

Assignment Idea:

Students will create a comparison chart weighing the pros and cons of releases in movie theatres versus streaming.

This can be done as a whole-class activity or through breakout rooms. I prefer the latter then bringing the entire class back for a discussion.

Comparing our current societal conditions with COVID-19 to what it was a year ago will be important. The movie theatre experience can’t be matched at home, but how important is that now?


As more of us return to the classroom, with or without students, I wish you all the best in your startups.

If you find value in these articles and think other educators can benefit from it, please consider sharing it.

Finally, if you’re finding this email going to your promotions or spam folder, consider adding me to your email list so you don’t miss future emails.

Take care! Until next week,

Sean