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South Valley Journal

How to plan a dance: Ask Manny

Jun 28, 2018 04:55PM ● By Jet Burnham

Wearing their AskManny sweatshirts to all their competitions was part of their marketing plan—they knew teens (their target market) would be paying attention to what they were wearing. (Photo courtesy Julianna Wing/HHS)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected] 

Maelyn Dougher, like many high school students, hates to plan for school dances. 

Because of the irritation of coordinating all the details, her group of friends procrastinated planning for Herriman’s Winter Ball last year. The day date, planned last minute, was chaotic and caused Dougher to inadvertently forget her dance ticket at home.

“It was horribly embarrassing and such a hassle,” Dougher said.

Many students forgo school dances because of the planning and expense involved, said graduating senior Peyton Williams. 

“Absorbing the costs of renting a tux, purchasing a corsage, eating at a classy dinner location, paying for a ticket and any other expenses is very difficult for a high school student,” he said. 

If only there was an easier way to coordinate dance planning. That’s what Dougher, Williams and their business team partner, Edison Velasco, thought when challenged to write a business plan for FBLA and DECA competitions. 

Their 30-page business plan outlined the idea for an app, AskManny, which would include features for every detail needed to plan a great dance experience: corsages, dresses, tuxedos, activities and dinner reservations. 

“AskManny is an app that combines both aspects of money-saving apps and planning apps to make high school dances planning easy and convenient,” said Velasco. 

The app would even provide ideas for creative ways to ask someone to a dance. And to solve Dougher’s problem, students could use the app to purchase their dance tickets and show the ticket on their phone instead of having a printed one. The app would also include a database of students who already have a date. 

“It rescues students from an embarrassing rejection if someone was already asked,” said Velasco. 

The team found, according to research, teens can spend over $1,200 on prom. Their goal for AskManny is to help high school students save money. Local businesses would place advertisements and offers on the app.  

“With AskManny, students would have access to limitless resources offering cheaper ways for students to plan high school dances,” said Williams. 

The idea for such an app has been met with popularity. 

“This AskManny concept happens to be such a unique idea and one that has created a lot of buzz around it,” said Herriman High School’s FLBA adviser Julianna Wing. 

When the team took first place for Herriman High at State DECA and sixth place in State FBLA competitions for their business plan, they attracted outside attention. 

They were invited to Silicon Slopes’ Shark Tank-style competition where they earned first place and $400. At the competition, hosted by Alpine School District’s CTE department, Dougher was also singled out for the Women in Entrepreneur Student Competitions and received a full-tuition scholarship to an entrepreneurial boot camp. 

In April, the team was one of 20 high school teams invited to the Lassonde Entrepreneur Center at the University of Utah. The team received $5,000 for second place and an additional $500 for winning the most votes for People's Choice. 

Team members qualified for DECA nationals and went to Atlanta, Georgia, to compete at the end of April. What started as an assignment has become a real opportunity.

“Most business plans are hypothetical, but I think we’ve made ours a lot more feasible,” said Williams, who was named Sterling Scholar runner-up in Business and Marketing. 

AskManny is currently in a prototype concept phase, waiting for a developer to take it on at a price the students can pay. They hope to have a working prototype ready for the 2018–2019 school year for all seven high schools in Jordan District. 

The name of the app was inspired by Herriman High School’s 2016–2017 SBO spirit officer, Manuel Fergoso, who was the guy who seemed to have the inside scoop on fun. 

The team felt using Manny’s name would make it more like asking a friend for advice.

“It’s a little bit more of a personal touch,” said Velasco. 

The students give a lot of credit to their business teachers, JuliannaWing and Randall Kammerman, for their encouragement throughout the process. They, in turn, have been impressed by the students’ dedication to the project. 

“Not very many kids are willing to write a huge business plan and put in all the work and research,” said Wing.