McGuire Center Helps ASHLine With Business Plan

May 18, 2016
McGuire Center helps ASHLine

ASHLine, the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline—an affiliate of the University of Arizona—reached out to the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship for help refining its business plan. Arizona Smoker’s Help Line, also known as ASHLine, is Arizona’s smoking and tobacco cessation Quitline. In operation since 1996, it has been able to help countless Arizonans quit smoking and recover from tobacco addiction. In recent years however, the Quitline has come under increasing pressure to maintain current levels of service despite dwindling tobacco tax revenues used to fund the organization. To help solve this problem, ASHLine reached out to the McGuire Program seeking a student intern to help review their business plan.

“I volunteered because I thought it’d be cool to get some hands-on experience with what I’d learned in the McGuire Program,” recent program alum Ryne Handelman said. “I thought my job was just to review the business plan and offer suggestions. I didn’t realize it would involve a whole lot more.”

In fact, the position came to embody what it is the McGuire program seeks to teach its students. The business plan itself served as the launching point for a semester-long entrepreneurship crash course in which McGuire mentor Jim Jindrick and Ryne advised the ASHLine business team on new venture creation topics such as marketing, operations, strategic planning, and business development.

“Research was pivotal. Having gone through the program, the mentors, especially Dan and Randy, always used to drill it into us; ‘validate, validate, validate!’ I knew nothing about the tobacco cessation industry or how it operated going in, and now I could probably name every major and minor competitor in the United States.”

The major focus of their work quickly evolved from business plan review to improvement. Key highlights include the exploration of new target markets, evaluation of new product lines, and a revision of ASHLine’s general marketing strategy in relation to certain stakeholders.