Spring 2021 OU Student Capstone Project Winners

Aug 17, 2021 | Blog, News

One thing that makes Oaksterdam University’s Live Semester programs so valuable is the chance to develop a real-world business plan under the guidance of OU’s expert faculty. Both our Business of Cannabis and Horticulture Live Semester Programs emphasize a Capstone Project, in which students team up to plan a canna-business or grow facility based on real-world parameters.

Dean of Faculty Natalie Darves

The assignment challenges students to create a name, logo, mission statement, financial strategy, marketing plan and pitch deck for their mock business. In doing so, they must consider location, licensing requirements, cost analysis, and target market among many other factors. At the end of the program, each group presents its work. Members answer questions and get feedback from OU judges to help refine their plans for the greatest chance of success. Then, judges select a winner. 

According to OU Dean of Students Natalie Darves, the judging panel is always rotating and includes experts from across the cannabis supply chain.

“Many of our judges are OU alumni, and their stories, from student to CEO, are always inspiring for the class,” Darves says. Capstone presentations are judged on thoroughness, adherence to cannabis compliance, and viability of the project idea. “Teams that present with passion and vigor often get a leg up in the eyes of the judges,” Darves says. 

Winners receive a special endorsement of distinction on their OU Certificate, plus a letter of recommendation from Oaksterdam Executive Chancellor Dale Sky Jones. They also receive an OU Legacy Book, stickers, pen, lanyard, and a $25 gift card to the OU Gift Shop!

Here’s a look at the Spring 2021 winners:



Business of Cannabis
Mountainside Cannabis Club

Team members: Jasmine, George, Jon, Joshua and Zekrya

The Pitch: Team members envisioned a retro ski lodge-themed dispensary on the shores of South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Rooted in health and wellness, the 27,500-square-foot, $5 million start-up would connect mountainside resort towns to cannabis and community.

Standout features include a rooftop consumption lounge with stunning views, and a focus on catering to outdoor enthusiasts, tourists, and medical patients.

Oaksterdam judges liked the Mountainside Cannabis Club business model, which included monthly memberships, certified cannacians, partnerships with local charities, and farm-to-table experiences.

“When we won, I couldn’t believe it,” says team member Jon Nickol. “I was ecstatic. This was definitely one of my prouder accomplishments. I loved OU and I plan on learning more from y’all in the future.”



Team members: Christian, Suzy, Eddie, Nicolas, Thomas, and Tim

The Pitch: The winning team from the April 2021 Horticulture Semester presentation day was Myrcenex, a greenhouse cultivation facility imagined for Bernalillo, N.M.

The team pitched a 22,500-square-foot facility with 1,750 plants tended in five greenhouse bays.

The $2 million start-up aims for 18 harvests per year of Green Crack, Captain’s Cake, and GMO Garlic Cookies cultivars.

Unique features included climate-controlled shipping containers for post-grow operations and drip irrigation with a percentage of water UV treated and reused.

Judges liked the attention to detail the group brought to their project, which included drawings of every aspect of the design, as well as charts and graphs depicting everything from nutrient schedules to lighting needs.


Business of Cannabis
Hempathy House

Team Members: Filipe and Raina

The Pitch: Hempathy House provides a framework for the construction of hempcrete houses in disaster-prone regions. The business model sources hemp bricks and provides instructions for tiny homes that can be used for emergency housing and the homeless.

Team members envision partnering with government agencies and other eco-conscious businesses and creating opportunities for veterans and the formerly incarcerated. This was Raina’s third time taking OU’s Business of Cannabis course. 

“The pitch development process challenged me to expand my strategic thinking,” she says. Felipe and Raina are working to bring their project to life through a pilot program. 

“If we find someone interested in partnering with us to make this dream come true, we have our doors open for the opportunity,” Filipe says. 



Shinnecock Hemp Collective

Team Members: Kamila and Rainbow

The Pitch: Shinnecock Hemp Collective is already in operation on the Shinnecock Nation Reservation in Suffolk County, N.Y.

The business sources, grows and extracts hand-crafted cannabinoid-based products and herbal remedies. The group’s capstone plan included an outdoor plot, a modest greenhouse, and future expansion to adult use cannabis cultivation.

Judges liked many of the creative sustainability aspects of this plan, including fertilization using sugar kelp from nearby Peconic Bay; pest management incorporating garlic, comfrey, and nasturtium; and security using natural barriers formed by red raspberry briars. 

According to co-founder Rainbow Hill, working through the business plan at Oaksterdam allowed her to see its potential. “Winning the capstone assured me that we are on the right track and that our business ideas are great and will be a success,” she says.