Updates from IBD Finland – Team Tekes

Full-time MBA students Adrian Gomez, Anita Kotagiri, Daniel Reddin, and Andrea Soto traveled to Finland for their IBD project to work with Tekes – The Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

It’s 8pm and there’s no sign of the sun setting any time soon. As we hop off the plane we can feel the slight chill in the air despite it being summer. Everything is clean, simple, and impeccably designed. Welcome to Finland!

After a somewhat restless night thanks to jet lag and the four hours of twilight that constitute night at this time of year, we were anxious to meet our client for the first time. After a wholesome breakfast of omelets and traditional Finnish rye bread prepared by chef and two-day early arriver, Adrian, we set off to meet our client at Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

The morning with our client began, of course, with coffee. As it turns out, Finland has the highest coffee consumption per person in the world! It quickly became apparent that the next three weeks would entail constant caffeination – a fact we well appreciated following a hearty meatball lunch on that first day.


After several hours of discussion with our client on Day 1 and reaching an agreement on the scope of our project and the planned activities for the weeks ahead, we were excited about what lay ahead of us – interviews with CEOs of leading Finnish companies, meeting with the Office of the Prime Minister, mentoring participants in a clean-tech startup competition, conducting workshops with Finnish entrepreneurs and presenting to the Steering Committee, a group of extremely senior executives responsible for Tekes’ clean-tech program. It very quickly became clear to us that this project was extremely important and was truly going to have an impact in shaping Finland’s future.

After many back-to-back interviews with entrepreneurs, academics and Tekes personnel throughout the week, we were fortunate enough to have made some Finnish friends along the way. The Finnish people are incredibly warm and inclusive, willing to go out of their way to show us around and invite us into their friendship circles. They are proud of Finland.

After a demanding week the team decided to take a trip across the Baltic to Estonia, a country that, up until now, really only popped to mind when thinking about Eurovision contests. The boat ride to Tallinn was a bit tough (many people got sea sick!) but the trip was definitely worth it! We had a blast wandering the narrow streets and alleys of Tallinn’s medieval Old Town and sampling some extremely good food.


In our second week we continued to meet with Finnish entrepreneurs and innovators. We hosted “Cleantech Power Morning” with a number of influential players in the space. Taking advantage of having these 25 people in one room, we ran a number of exercises and administered a short survey in order to test and validate our emerging hypotheses about cleantech and the innovation ecosystem in Finland.

Following the session, our client was excited to finally take us to what he constantly referred to (especially when around Helsinki natives) as “the cultural capital of Finland”, his home-town of Turku. We took this opportunity to meet with the CEO of Clewer, a water recycling firm, and the leaders of the Future Studies department at the University of Turku’s School of Economics (the “Haas of Finland”, as our client called it). We capped of the day with a wonderful dinner and a quick walk around the town before jumping on a bus back to Helsinki.



Being so close, we knew that we could not return home without making a trip to Russia! We boarded an overnight cruise ship for St Petersburg, excited for a weekend of new experiences. This city was incredible. As a previous capital of Russia, it had strong economic and social capital in the 19th and 20th centuries. As such, their citizens built incredible architecture with strong European influence. We had a great time exploring the beautiful city and even took in an opera at the world-famous Mariinsky Theatre.



Returning to Helsinki for our third and final week, we were excited about our progress so far but expectant about the deliverables that would soon be due. during this week we had the privilege of visiting with one of the leaders of the Prime Minister’s innovation initiative. She provided us with high level information and confirmations of the government’s goals for the Finnish innovation ecosystem.

More than twenty five interviews later, the moment of truth was growing near. Having gathering tons of information over the past sever days, it was time to start pulling it all together to form our proposal and recommendations for how to spur on cleantech innovation in Finland.  Our team set off to the task of completing the final draft of a 90 page report for the client and a final presentation to the Steering Committee.

Our presentations throughout our time in Finland were filled with engaging discussions and our final presentation was no exception. We were further motivated in our work with Tekes by the confirmation of how important our findings would be to the organization. After one final session of business card exchanges and handshakes we conducted our final meeting with our client.


Being our last week in country, we wanted to make sure we did not leave without experiencing more of the culture. Our team took a traditional Finnish sauna, complete with a dip in the chilly Baltic Sea, and went out with Finnish friends to watch the sunset from the top of Helsinki’s tallest building. We also took the chance to visit the medieval Finnish town of Pörvöö, half an  hour away from Helsinki. There we enjoyed a laid back afternoon strolling around the town, visiting a cathedral from the 1200’s and buying Salmiakki, the traditional Finnish candy made from licorice root (an acquired taste, for sure).

Once back in Helsinki, our team prepared for departure from this place which had exceeded our expectations. With luggage carrying at least ten collective pounds of Finnish rye bread and chocolate wafer sweets, we departed our hotel for our next destination.

Our IBD project and our Tekes client made for an unforgettable time in an unexpected place.

Updates from IBD South Africa – Team loveLife

Robert Heath, Rupal Nayar, Alfonso Perez Grovas, and Julia Wasserman are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project with the South Africa-based loveLife Leadership Academy (an associate of the New loveLife Trust).

The First Days

Our first week in Johannesburg was a waterfall of informational meetings and interviews that shed light on everything we thought we understood upon arrival. One day of marathon meetings stands out in particular, though. The main event that day was with the CEO, Grace, where we presented our kick-off slide deck and initial insights to get her feedback. Her interest in the insights and perspectives we were bringing to the loveLife Leadership Academy really provided a refreshing view on the value we could provide with our combined professional and MBA experiences.

Grace’s message was ever-so inspiring, wanting to do right by the young people of South Africa and provide them with opportunities they deserve. She described loveLife’s history and evolution. She described a desire to channel the risks that youth are willing to take and transform them from negative outcomes into positive opportunities and investments into their own future as well as the community and macro economy.


The “loveLife Way”

Rather than preaching the ways of the world, loveLife inspires youth and builds their self-esteem by empowering them with the message that they too can have on the world. I think I’m most impressed by how they not only say this, but they practice it themselves. At work and in life, the concept of “sawubona” is practiced— it means “I see you.” When you walk into a room or pass someone on the street, you acknowledge each and every person  regardless of position or social standing. And the sentiment is always well-received with a response of “yebo.” Historically, black South Africans were so used to being ignored and seen THROUGH that they make it a point to say this to ensure every person is seen for who they are. It is beautiful. It really just manifests in everything they do. At work, everyone has a voice, regardless of station and I absolutely love that. We haven’t encountered anyone who has been off-putting, and this environment inspires us to begin everyday nice, fresh and happy.


South African Realities

South Africa is plagued by deep injustice and historical inequality. With a current government that is hindering many social efforts that began after Apartheid and with loveLife under that government’s thumb for funding, they are incredibly grateful we are here. It feels empowering and humbling at the same time. We are using so much knowledge gained from life and the MBA in a real way, and loveLife is really looking to us to help them.



Key Insights

For example, just a couple of days later, our meeting with Grace was put into context when we visited a y-center (community youth centers where loveLife programming is delivered) about 3 hours from Johannesburg. During this visit, we split up and held four separate meetings with varying groups of youngsters to really go in depth about their personal experiences and their views on the programs. From this, we gained more valuable information than anyone could have imagined we would. We utilized design thinking methodologies in order to derive many significant insights as we brought our distinct interviews together.


This formed the basis of our workplan for the following week and led to completely re-shaping The Academy’s strategy for revenue generation. Over the following week, we performed even more interviews with potential customers and gathered critical demographic data and statistics to provide a solid case for each of our recommendations that included customer segmentation, pricing, positioning, communication, and product offerings. Although targeting individual learners was an original plan for the loveLife Leadership Academy, we provided a detailed plan for delaying this and re-focusing on youth already in workplace environments, offering products to companies that range from workplace integration to on-the-job training.



The delayed plan for addressing the individual learner segment coordinated nicely with our secondary project – recommendations on strategy for developing a digital platform. We used many of the same insights to define the features we recommended for this platform, features that could significantly improve learner experience and engagement as well as alleviate so many of the logistical issues of organizing and delivering programs to individuals, all while allowing The Academy to maintain even more quality control over the content. Other features of the platform further allow The Academy to take advantage of its unique position within the current educational opportunities for youth and use this in their brand strategy.

In conclusion…

During that first visit to the Y-center, in demonstration of loveLife’s unique approach, we were greeted in the “loveLife way” with dancing ice-breakers and conversation to understand where the youths there came from and how loveLife has helped transform their lives, sublimating their natural youthful tendencies toward risk into positive actions that help them and their communities. We truly believe this unique approach can transform the future of South Africa by meeting youth’s hunger for knowledge and opportunity along with transforming the way companies and the government provide the resources and work environments that will help the society thrive. We look forward to following all of The Academy’s success over the next year!



Updates from IBD Thailand – Team Theptarin Hospital

Berkeley-Haas MBA students Dulce Kadise, Hieu Nguyen, Suraj Patel and Lexi Sturdy worked with Thai hospital, Theptarin, to create a sustainable growth strategy for its sister foundation which aims to build healthier lives by preventing diabetes and its complications.

Striving to Achieve a Dream

To be Thailand’s leader in treatment and prevention of diabetes – A tall vision for Theptarin, a family-run, 80-bed hospital located in Bangkok.  As a young doctor at a public hospital in Thailand over 40 years ago, Dr. Thep Himathongkam had a dream of what eventually became Theptarin Hospital. Experiencing the bureaucratic challenges of the public system, he decided to start a private, for-profit hospital where he could create a specialized, interdisciplinary approach to address diabetes. But Dr. Thep’s dream to expand excellent diabetes care and prevention goes well beyond the walls of his hospital; he wants to see it spread throughout Thailand and eventually the world, which is why he created the Foundation for Development of Diabetes Care Management nearly 15 years ago.

Haas-IBD team with Dr. Thep Himathongkam and his family

Haas-IBD team with Dr. Thep Himathongkam and his family

Our IBD team was tasked with helping this Foundation develop a sustainable growth strategy for it to achieve its mission of preventing diabetes and its complications in Thailand and its neighboring countries. But throughout our work with Theptarin we learned how challenging and difficult it can be to regulate and run a for-profit hospital that has responsibility to its shareholders while carrying out a dream to fight diabetes throughout the region.

After conducting several case studies and interviews with elite health institutions from around the world, we concluded that in order for the Foundation to grow as leadership wanted, it would need its own strategy, brand and structure. One of the key struggles the Hospital and its subsequent Foundation faced was the overwhelming interconnected nature their work. To help create a clear distinction between the two entities we created a new mission and set of guiding principles for the Foundation along with a suite of decision-making tools. By doing so, we hope to provide a clear identity for the foundation and help leadership make mission-driven decisions as it grows.

Dr. Thep’s dream is courageous and inspiring, we hope that by distinguishing and defining his Foundation, as well as running a fabulous hospital, he can effect change throughout Thailand and its surrounding region. This change has already begun with the trainings that the Foundation currently provides, which have inspired clinicians to improve diabetic care in their own regions.


The IBD team experiencing the engaging trainings provided by the Foundation

The IBD team experiencing the engaging trainings provided by the Foundation

Here’s a Youtube video of another fun teamwork building activity provided by the Theptarin Foundation: https://youtu.be/uKkVD53FOx8

Getting a Taste of Thai Culture

During the three weeks we spent in Bangkok, we conducted several interviews to test the hypothesis we had developed. However, these interviews turned out to be more than useful tools for our work; they gave us a glimpse into the Thai culture.

One of our favorite interviews was with a long-time patient and member of the Foundation’s committee. He invited us to his home to conduct the interview, which he described as a typical middle class Thai home as he gave us a brief tour. His wife and his dog were also there to welcome us. During the interview he told us stories about his family and his life. Before we left, he insisted that we try a variety of Thai desserts. These included mostly coconut treats, but also durian, a classic Asian fruit. Lexi seemed to tolerate it. On the other hand, Dulce really disliked it, and tried her best to hide it in front of our generous host.

The Haas-IBD team visiting a long-time patient and foundation committee member while getting a taste of Thai culture

The Haas-IBD team visiting a long-time patient and foundation committee member while getting a taste of Thai culture

Another interesting interview was with one of the top government officials at the National Health Security Office. This interviewee gave us a great overview of the healthcare system and the relationship with the private sector. As we were heading out, we took a picture together. This time it was Hieu’s turn to encounter a cultural difference, as he hugged our interviewee during the group picture, a faux pas in Thailand when engaging with those of high position, resulting in a concerned, but amused, look from our client.

Living the Theptarin Lifestyle

Given that we were living at the Hospital during our stay, we had no choice but to embrace the healthy lifestyle promoted by Theptarin.  On the first day our IBD team was given a tour of the facilities by Tanya, the assistant director for Theptarin Hospital and Dr. Thep’s daughter. We took the elevator to the 14th floor and viewed our hotel-like suites within the hospital’s Lifestyle Building. Tanya mentioned that the building embodied a part of her father’s dream – a place where patients and the general public could convene to learn about and practice healthy living.

Soon afterwards, Tanya provided a tour of all the services in the Lifestyle Building. “We take the stairs here,” she said. After walking down six flights of stairs, we reached the eighth floor, which included a spa, outdoor pool, and fully functional gym. “Let’s see your fitness. This machine measures body composition. Who wants to go first?” she smiled.

Hieu eagerly awaiting his body composition results

Hieu eagerly awaiting his body composition results

One by one we input our information and had the machine assess our body composition through electric pulses. A composition dashboard was subsequently printed, where Hieu’s eyes immediately honed on his 23% body fat metric. Everyone on the team was similarly surprised, and together we formulated a plan to live the Theptarin Lifestyle. The plan was simple – a daily 7am workout, small portions in Theptarin’s cafeteria for breakfast and lunch, alternating days of 7pm workouts, and sleep by 11pm.

After sticking to the Theptarin Lifestyle for three weeks, each team member achieved better body composition. Hieu was able to lose 1kg of body fat and replace it with 1kg of muscle, dropping his body fat to 22%. Success!

Heading back to Berkeley the team vowed to try to continue the Theptarin Lifestyle for as long as possible!

Updates from IBD – Team Singapore

Meet the Team:

-Niki Ariyasinghe an Aussie banker/consultant and bitcoin aficionado

-Moe Poonja a techie and DJ from Chicago

-Diego Vidaurre a Chilean banker and part-time magician

-Gavin Abreu a Mexican central banker and salsa dancer

We were all selected for this project given our prior banking experience.


The Country

When Singapore achieved its independence, in 1965, the country was battling unemployment and serious social and economic problems.  However openness to foreign investment and promoting the creation of new companies helped the country overcome its economic foes and become one of the world’s largest financial hubs.  The result?  Well today Singapore is the third richest country of the world in per capita terms and the World Bank has ranked them the easiest country of the world to do business.


The Project

Developing a strategy for a large financial institution in Singapore to better engage clients through digital tools allowing them to improve the customer experience. However the project had a catch to it. Instead of one client, we had two clients with two different perspectives and two distinct needs.

*Details of the client and project cannot be fully disclosed due to a signed NDA

The Process

We first started by reviewing the industry.  What are the industry standards and what are the innovations that are threatening to disrupt the industry?  To do this, we focused on the large financial institutions in North America and Europe and startups in Silicon Valley.  After we grew familiar with the industry, we talked to client-facing employees at financial institutions to gain a better understating of the costumers needs along with fintech companies with their latest disruptive innovations.  Armed with this knowledge we flew to Singapore, well equipped to offer emerging trends within the industry.  Once there, we interviewed numerous employees of the company and identified their pains and areas of opportunity.  We ideated (using post-its, of course), identified commonalities and ultimately looked to find efficiencies or enhance the customer or banker’s experience.


And came up with a list of recommendations that could help them alleviate their pains and embrace digital tools.

The Final Presentation

We set up a final document with these recommendations and only days before our final presentation we learned that instead of presenting to our sponsor (the Head of Products) we were actually going to present our findings to the CEO of one bank and COO of the other large institution.  We worked diligently to prepare the presentation and tailor it so it is relevant despite having two separate stakeholders with two different recommendations.

We had already taken Cort Worthington’s class so we welcomed the opportunity with confidence and rocked the presentation!


Updates from IBD China – Team Thermo Fisher

IBD Team Thermo Fisher (Ramya Babu, Lisa Becker, Scott Crider, George James) worked with the China division of Thermo Fisher, an American multinational company, on a growth strategy project for its environment / water analysis segment.

Moving Fast

Shanghai is not what we expected it to be. Even George, who had already lived in this city before was surprised by how modern and western Shanghai has become. We stayed in Pudong, aka “Pu-Jersey”, a 45-minute subway ride from the famous skyline of Shanghai. With nearly 25 million in habitants, Shanghai is currently the largest city by population in the world.

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

The most awe-inspiring thing to behold is the speed at which China is developing. Mega structures that did not exist a few years ago now tower over older buildings. The pace of growth and notion of limitless possibilities in China, and especially in Shanghai, is quite remarkable.

Food to Die For

Upon arrival, we acquainted ourselves with the area around the hotel, home to many expats. The local businesses cater to this population and thus there are many non-Chinese restaurants, with prices not much different from those of the Bay Area.

We sampled many traditional Chinese meals with our Thermo Fisher hosts, including lunches at the company’s business park cafeteria and dinners at Shanghainese restaurants.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

One of our favorite meals was la mian, huge bowls of noodle soup for around 12 RMB (or $2 USD). Other favorites included xiao long bao (soup dumplings), Da Dong’s Peking Duck (Beijing’s most famous dish) and, of course, the local pijiu, Tsingtao.

La mian

La mian

Xiao long bao

Xiao long bao

The People

We encountered a variety of people in the new, cosmopolitan city of Shanghai: cab drivers from the provinces, coworkers from Beijing, and foreigners from every corner of the globe. As different as they are, these people all share something in common – the pursuit of opportunity. From the rich to the poor, Shanghai represents the growth of China and the opportunity that a booming economy can create.

The people we met were very open to meeting foreigners, especially those who are interested in Chinese culture. George fit in well with the locals and made friends with the Chinese who appreciated his interest in Chinese language, arts and history.

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Culture and Business

Interacting with businesses in China was quite eye opening. There were several conflicting characteristics that we observed. The most prominent are embracing proven ideas, struggling to adopt new ideas, and moving fast. As we spoke with our client and their customers, one idea was repeated throughout: the use of best in class practices combed from all over the world are representative of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”. The sheer thirst for knowledge that has been proven was astounding to observe.

In direct contrast to the assimilation of proven ideas is the struggle to adopt cutting edge ones. We used design-thinking processes that we had previously learned in the Problem Finding, Problem Solving class. Our client struggled to understand the value of diverging from common practices to flush out insights. This was especially interesting given that the client is a large multinational corporation based in the United States.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

We are truly grateful for the hospitality shown by the city of Shanghai, a constantly evolving city that everyone should visit at least once in his or her lifetime.

Updates from IBD Cambodia – Team SVC

Jamaur Bronner, Kelvin Mu, Carolina Paz, and Anette Urbina are full-time MBA students working on an International Business Development project in Cambodia.  Their client is Sam Veasna Center (SVC), a non-profit organization that helps preserve Cambodian wildlife through ecotourism.

Saving the World, One Bird at a Time

I’m not sure if you remember Captain Planet and the Planeteers, but it was a Saturday morning cartoon that was quite popular in the United States in the early 1990s.  The show centered around 5 ethnically diverse kids from around the world who each had the power to control an element of nature and would occasionally combine their powers to collectively summon the superhero Captain Planet.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an environmentally conscious cartoon series that aired in the early through mid-1990s

Captain Planet and the Planeteers was an environmentally conscious cartoon series that aired in the early through mid-1990s

These young heroes took on maniacal Eco-villains that were destroying the environment through pollution, crime, war, unethical science, and poaching.  After vanquishing the baddies, Captain Planet would end the show with his catchphrase “The Power is Yours!” – implying that we all have the power to end environmental destruction if we work together in unity.

Fast forward twenty years from the end of the TV series in 1995 to 2015 Cambodia.  The heat is stifling, the air is dusty, and dozens of extravagant hotels and restaurants stood eerily unoccupied.  This is Siem Reap in the “low season” – the May through September slog when tourist levels lull and the country is blanketed by the relentless summer heat.

Nevertheless, Cambodia – and Siem Reap specifically – is still just as fascinating and endearing as any other time of the year.  The majestic temples of Angkor Wat sprawl over 200 acres 3 miles north of town.   The Siem Reap River snakes through the core of the city, and in the evenings the bridges and side streets erupt with lighted signs for night markets and the ever-popular Pub Street.

Angkor Wat is one of the seven wonders of the world, and looks especially incredible at sunrise

Angkor Wat is one of the seven wonders of the world, and looks especially incredible at sunrise

The Haas team sent to Siem Reap was as diverse as that cartoon show – an American, Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Canadian – and the project could have easily been spun into one of the show’s plotlines.  Our client, Sam Veasna Center (SVC), is a ten year old non-profit organization that promotes conservation through ecotourism.  SVC’s clients are taken to remote areas of Cambodia to partake in birdwatching tours, and a large percentage of their tour fees are reinvested into local villages to provide incentives for sustainable living practices.  Former poachers and hunters in the village are now SVC’s greatest advocates for conservation, serving as forest rangers who carefully monitor Cambodia’s dwindling wildlife.  SVC contributes 50 cents of each dollar of revenue towards conservation and community improvement efforts.

SVC regularly meets with representatives of the communities it supports and provides funding for village projects, as can be seen here

SVC regularly meets with representatives of the communities it supports and provides funding for village projects, as can be seen here

How dire is Cambodia’s environmental situation? The country’s national bird, the Giant Ibis, is listed as a critically endangered species, with only about 250 of these birds left in the world.  Even SVC’s founding is a tragic testament to the formidable wildlife challenge.  SVC’s founder Sam Veasna died of malaria in 1999 while surveying the Northern Plans for the now extinct kouprey.

The 2015 Haas team is the third group of Haasies to work with SVC.  The first team helped design SVC’s original business model and the second team conducted site-specific investment analyses.  Our task was a fusion of the previous projects; SVC, now profitable, needed help growing the company and branching out beyond its core service offering of birdwatching tours.  Its sponsor, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), had helped SVC identify a number of strategic investments that it could make at its sites, and also had ideas on additional services SVC could begin offering.  WCS and SVC wanted help evaluating those investments, as well as conceptualizing the implementation of its new product mix.


Our project was off to a strong start during the spring semester.  Our clients, SVC Director Johnny Orn and WCS Cambodia Director Ross Sinclair, were available for weekly meetings and helped answer our initial questions as we scoped the project.  Unfortunately, one month before we were scheduled to go on-site, Ross took time off for vacation and some of our project scoping questions had not yet been addressed.  We continued working with Johnny to plan our approach for once we got on-site, but we remained concerned that our vision of project success might not align with Ross’s priorities.

Once we were on-site, we had a Day of Arrival Presentation that was well received by Johnny, and we were able to arrange an in-person meeting with Ross and WCS Technical Advisor Simon Mahood the following day.  It turned out that our plan of action indeed aligned with WCS, and they understood that our primary client for this engagement was SVC, so Johnny had the final say on our deliverables.

The Haas team grabbed dinner with Ross Sinclair and Simon Mahood, managers at WCS

The Haas team grabbed dinner with Ross Sinclair and Simon Mahood, managers at WCS

Our plan in Cambodia was to conduct a thorough financial analysis to come up with strategies for improving SVC’s profitability, conduct competitive analysis to identify best practices and optimal product mix, and to review their marketing strategy and recommend ways in which the organization could grow its reach and brand recognition.

Between the financial documents that SVC maintained and the recently-commissioned marketing strategy document, we realized that the organization had a trove of valuable information, but had not spent time analyzing this information or extracting insights.  Part of the problem was that SVC was shorthanded in manpower and technical ability – even with all of their data, few within the walls of SVC had the time or ability to extract the contents since the data was not laid out in an easily intuitive manner.  Part of our challenge was not only extracting insights and making recommendations, but also equipping the SVC leadership with tools that would improve its ability to track progress and reevaluate the organization’s position in the future.

Presentation Day

On the day of our final presentation, the contents of our deliverables were robust: we created a 129-slide deck, a 23 page Digital Marketing & Brand Management guide, an updated feedback form, an updated booking form, a competitive benchmarking database, and an extensive Excel investment model.  Our presentation was 2 hours long, including time for Q&A, and both Johnny and the WCS representative Kez Hobson were impressed with our findings.  Most importantly, our presentation included concrete recommendations and a proposed implementation timeline that gave Johnny the direction he needed to begin optimizing his organization after we were gone.

SVC hosted us as dinner guests following the presentation, and we enjoyed Khmer food and watched a documentary that described Cambodia’s wildlife landscape nearly 50 years ago.  In the film, one could see the damaging effects that environmental practices have had on the land; in the 1970’s, Cambodia’s forests covered 73% of all land area, today that figure is closer to 48%.  The country has lost more than 7% of its forest cover over the last 12 years, which is the fifth fastest rate in the world.

Dinner and documentary on our last night with SVC

Dinner and documentary on our last night with SVC

We’d like to think that the work we did this semester was a small step in improving the outlook for wildlife in Cambodia.  SVC, as one of the leading eco-tour operators in the country, is playing a pivotal role in protecting endangered species and creating habitats in which they can once again thrive.  We might not have saved the world, but we hope we’ve helped an organization focused on protecting some of the world’s most threatened animals.

From right to left: Haas teammates Kelvin Mu, Jamaur Bronner, Anette Urbina, and Carolina Paz with SVC Director Johnny Orn

From right to left: Haas teammates Kelvin Mu, Jamaur Bronner, Anette Urbina, and Carolina Paz with SVC Director Johnny Orn


Updates from IBD Peru and Chile – Team Bocadio Part II

Part II of Spring 2015 IBD Team Bocadio’s adventures working with Bocadio, an innovative, high-quality meal delivery startup in Latin America.

3 – On Getting a Phone

As we settled into our daily routine of data analytics and market sizing, it was clear that communicating with each other, and Diego, would require finding a dataplan. It was through this adventure that Christian and Steven discovered that Inventarte’s complex check-out process was perhaps simply indicative of a cultural difference we had missed: Peruvians enjoy processes. Indeed, as it turns out, securing a phone plan required no less than 12 steps:

The Twelve Labors of Claro

  1. Find the only store in Lima where you can purchase a SIM card for your phone from Claro, one of the major operators in Latin America
  2. Revisit the store a second time, as it is closed on the weekends
  3. Line up for a ticket, and explain purpose of visit in broken Spanish
  4. Realize you need your passport and the little immigration stub to accomplish most things in Peru
  5. Return to hotel to pick up passport
  6. Rush frantically back to the store, as it closes early
  7. Line up for a ticket, realize the person at the desk has changed, and explain again the purpose of visit in broken Spanish
  8. Wait to be called to a customer service counter and get a voucher for a SIM card
  9. Line up at cash register to pay for the SIM card itself
  10. Return to customer service counter to collect SIM card
  11. Line up at automated kiosk to add initial credit to phone
  12. Return to customer service counter, to activate phone
Claro - many phones but only one place to buy a SIM

Claro – many phones but only one place to buy a SIM

In the hotel lobby, Kayo had already secured her own dataplan, and was happily browsing away when Steven and Christian, having triumphed over Claro, returned sweaty and disgusting, but with chests stuck out like proud warriors bringing back in their pockets the spoils of their war. “Actually,” Kayo said, “for me it was very fast. Japanese Guide told me everything I needed to bring.”

On the inside, Christian and Steven wept.

4 – On Our Travels Outside Lima

In Steven and Ben’s absence, Kayo and Christian opted to use their weekend alone to travel outside of the city and see some of the country’s favorite sights. While forewarned by Japanese Guide of the challenges that lay ahead of them, they embarked upon a perilous 8-hour bus and car journey to Nazca, sight of the world-famous Nazca lines. Of course, travelling around the country is much easier today that it would have been in the time of the Nazca people. Thousands of years ago, it would have taken months to get from Nazca to Lima by llama whereas today, thanks to the way people drive, you are lucky to get there at all.

Whatever they may have felt, however, Kayo and Christian had no real choice: humans are hard wired to travel. Indeed, we travel because no matter how content we are at home, we yearn take new tours, buy new souvenirs, introduce ravenous new bacteria to our intestines, learn new words for “explosive diarrhea,” and have all kinds of other unforgettable experiences that make us want to embrace our beds when we finally get home.

Of course, none of this mattered once Christian and Kayo finally found themselves on the tarmac of the Nazca Aerodrome (Motto: “The only way to fly. No really, we mean it, there is nothing for hundreds of miles.”) awaiting their turn in the back of a tiny Cessna, the preferred method of viewing the ancient lines. Thankful that the very hearty breakfast they had enjoyed that morning was helping to keep them warm in the frigid desert, Kayo and Christian listened to the pilot’s instructions as they were strapped into their seats. “Oh and I hope you skipped breakfast this morning,” he concluded, “things can get pretty bumpy.” Christian opened his mouth to make a witty remark, but before he could, the minuscule aircraft shot into the air.



...and a little bit of anxiety -- just a bit

…and a little bit of anxiety — just a bit

Meanwhile in Santiago, Steven and Ben were helping Diego add a real-world lens to his market research. The goal of the visit was to better understand the market conditions and viability for starting a Bocadio branch in Santiago, and begin building relationships with investors and local operators who could one day help grow the business.

Our first day in Santiago, a Haas alumnus, and old friend of Diego, Koichi Arimitsu, had a dinner to welcome Diego, Steven and Ben to Santiago. Koichi shared his experiences as an entrepreneur in Chile, starting one of the first large-scale solar plants in the northern desert. Koichi explained that Santiago’s start-up community is growing quickly, and is heavily supported by a strong government infrastructure. Koichi also complained about the lack of delicious food, despite the wealth of incredible, locally grown ingredients (Chile’s top exports include Wine, Salmon, Avocados, Grapes, Apples, Pears, and Pigs). As Koichi explained, “they’ve got amazing ingredients, but have no idea how to prepare them!” In fact, Chileans avoid “Chilean” cuisine at all costs. What are the two hottest restaurants in town? Peruvian exports: Gaston Acurio’s Le Mar, and Ciro Watanabe’s Osaka.

Diego, Ben, and Steven were excited to hear that the market opportunity in Santiago was prime for a new, high quality, low cost food delivery service – especially one backed Peruvian chefs that could meet the demand of a growing middle-class that lacked in-home help.

Koichi's Texas-sized portion of Pork & Asparagus

Koichi’s Texas-sized portion of Pork & Asparagus

The second day in Santiago, Steven, Ben and Diego had lined up a number of meetings with potential investors, including another solar entrepreneur (Haas ’07), a family office who was responsible for bringing Papa John’s to Chile, and the head of Fundacion Chile (Haas ’06). The first two meetings went incredibly well, each investor indicating that Bocadio would do well in Santiago, and they may be willing to contribute to help fund its expansion.

Diego discussing the Bocadio concept with Haas alum Christian Sjorgen

Diego discussing the Bocadio concept with Haas alum Christian Sjorgen

Steven, Ben and Diego were over the moon with this feedback. Hearing from real investors in the flesh of Bocadio’s market potential helped validate the months of market research they had been conducting on the ground in Berkeley. Further, they began to realize that the idolization of Peruvian cuisine and lack of local flavors was unique to Santiago, and perhaps made it a better market to begin expansion when compared to cities with similar profiles (such as Bogota).

The third day, Diego had arranged a tour of Aramark’s largest food processing facility in Santiago. This plant was responsible for cooking and delivering hundreds of thousands of meals a year to mines scattered across the north and south of Chile. The plant tour would provide Diego a window into a state-of-the-art food production facility, and the techniques required to optimize cooking food & then chilling it for delivery at scale.

Walking through the factory floor, Diego, Ben and Steven got to see first-hand the incredible technology that made this type of food production possible – including a laser-cutting machine that could quickly dice any type of meat into uniform cubes, identical in weight, and a giant skillet that could cook hundreds of pounds of spaghetti with meatballs by simply loading the ingredients. While adding to the future wish-list of equipment, Diego, Ben and Steven were also able to have an insight that could be applied immediately – adopting a bar code scanning system that could trace the origin of each meal, allowing for better insights throughout the supply chain.

Visiting Aramark's Plant

Visiting Aramark’s Plant

Ben and Steven taking advantage of the weekend in Santiago on horseback through the Andes

Ben and Steven taking advantage of the weekend in Santiago on horseback through the Andes

Showing some school spirit

Showing some school spirit


Updates from IBD Peru and Chile – Team Bocadio Part I

Berkeley-Haas Full-time MBA students Benjamin Geller, Steven Truong, Christian Kaas and Kayo Inoue worked with Peruvian food delivery startup “Bocadio” to launch the business in Lima, and craft a plan for expansion throughout Latin-America. Bocadio combines technology and gastronomy to provide high-quality meals delivered quickly at a low price-point. Originally our goal was to help Bocadio in its initial month of operation in Lima, while researching opportunities for international expansion. However, upon landing we realized that construction on the kitchen had been delayed. With this impetus, we refocused our project on preparing the Bocadio team for a successful Beta period when the kitchen completed in August, and investigating international expansion in Santiago, with Steven and Ben joining Diego for one week to meet with investors and operators.

1 – On Arriving in Peru

While the team left Berkeley at 4am, it was already night time when we arrived in Lima, excited to begin our IBD adventure with Bocadio, the latest addition to the city’s thriving food scene and the local analog to the Bay Area’s successful Munchery concept.

Making our way through the airport towards baggage collection, Steven saw an excellent opportunity for us to get started on one of the most important parts of our project. “Guys, we need to take a picture for our blog!” If I had even been irritated by tourists’ propensity to photograph themselves in the inane and inconvenient of settings, I can now sympathize that they must simply be collecting material for their IBD deliverable. This picture of us happily holding up foot traffic in-front of the Jorge Chavez International Airport international arrivals’ women’s lavatory can attest to this.

Arrival in Lima

Arrival in Lima

Exhausted by our trip, we were happy to have arrived a day early and to have Sunday off to discover Lima. Our first challenge was an important one, particularly given our project context: where do we eat? TripAdvisor raved about a local joint Haiti Haiti Café that was, rather interestingly, neither Haitian nor really a café. Proud of our first foray into the local culinary scene, we would later tell our client team about Haiti Haiti and how happy we were with our discovery. “This is not a good place to eat,” the team grimaced. Surprisingly, it turns out that hotdoggurl_345 from Skokie, Illinois is a poor assessor of Peruvian cuisine. Who knew?

First lunch in Peru - they love their potatoes

First lunch in Peru – they love their potatoes

Another wonderful meal - we were making a habit of this

Another wonderful meal – we were making a habit of this

While Steven and Christian put their extensive experience with the Spanish language and mime to communicate important things like “beer” or “fork,” Kayo seemed to be faring altogether better with her guidebook, sadly impenetrable for mere mortals, which we came to know affectionately as Japanese Guide.

Japanese Guide, or why Kayo always knew more than we did

Japanese Guide, or why Kayo always knew more than we did

2 – On Meeting Diego

Monday morning was our first meeting with Diego, who came to meet us at our hotel. Diego’s little yellow car shot through Lima traffic like a pinball, with team Bocadio in tow. “Don’t be afraid if I’m driving a little bit crazy, eh,” said Diego, elbowing his way across three lanes of traffic to catch a late turnoff, “it’s just the way you need to do things around here.” Some pink returned to our knuckles as we partly unclenched our grip our Diego’s car seats. Diego’s car would later feature in one of my dreams, with a rocket attached to the back, like a bright yellow Batmobile.

In record time, therefore, we found ourselves at Bocadio’s new office, nested above a little café in the upscale residential neighborhood of San Isidro. We enjoyed meeting so many of the people who – up to now – had only been names on an e-mail chain: Mauricio, Alex, Willy and Laura. Also present on our first day was Coque Ossio, one of Diego’s principal backers and owner of, we have come to suspect, pretty much every restaurant in Peru. Upon finding us setting up shop in a bakery near our hotel, Diego remarked “how do you like the Bonbonnière, it belongs to Coque, you know.” The restaurants at Lima airport? Coque. This celebrity connection greatly entertained us, of course, and Steven enjoyed introducing us everywhere we went as friends of Coque. Often, people would nod enthusiastically, either recognizing the name of one of the country’s great chefs, or thinking Steven was crazy. My money is on the latter.

Diego's yellow car

Diego’s yellow car

We then had the opportunity to sit down with Bocadio’s head chef at Coque’s restaurant across the street, and perform the arduous task of taste-testing potential items for the menu. We were struck by the vibrancy of flavors, and the different uses of potatoes in the dishes – who knew that Peru had over 3,000 varietals! We knew at this point that Bocadio had a dynamite product, which was great to experience first-hand.

Bocadio team member Mauricio helping serve up our first tasting

Bocadio team member Mauricio helping serve up our first tasting


Alex Riccio, one of Bocadio's main chefs, and a Munchery alum

Alex Riccio, one of Bocadio’s main chefs, and a Munchery alum

The team working hard

The team working hard

Happy campers pose with Chef Alex

Happy campers pose with Chef Alex


But back to Bocadio. One of our first tasks was to accompany Diego to meet Inventarte, his website production team, to review their progress and offer some suggestions for user-centric design based on our extensive experience of the one class Ben took on the subject. One of the main observations we made that day was that the check-out process for new users seemed overly complex, to the point of being potentially off-putting for new customers. In a similar vein, much of this first meeting focused on reducing the complexity of the Bocadio sales funnel, to make the ordering process as pleasant an experience as possible.

Reviewing the progress on the website

Reviewing the progress on the website

At the end of our first day, Diego dropped us off at one of Lima’s best-known Cevicherias, renowned for their modern interpretation of Peru’s ceviche, raw fish seized with lime juice. “The restaurant is great, but not in the best part of town,” Diego said. “Don’t leave this street.” Ben turned around to ask if he would like to join us “Dieg…”

But he was gone.

Like Batman.


“I’m Batman.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of Team Bocadio’s adventures…

Updates from IBD Turkey – Team Indofood

FTMBA students Chris Dulgarian, Joy Henderson, Mijin Sim, and Akshay Yadav traveled to Turkey to complete their Spring 2015 IBD project with Indofood, the world’s largest producer of instant noodles.

Our excitement knew no bounds when we found out who our IBD client was – the world’s largest instant noodle manufacturer, Indofood (brand of noodles is Indomie)! Much to our surprise though, Indofood was facing some hurdles introducing instant noodles to Turkey.

The challenge seemed delicious, but the only problem was that our visit was 4 months after the semester started. Going beyond ourselves as usual, our team valiantly started soaking in the Turkish experience while we were at Berkeley itself, paying visits to yummy Turkish restaurants and reaching out to the Turkish community for insights.

Team Turkey at a Turkish restaurant on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley

Team Turkey at a Turkish restaurant on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley

Soon we realized why Turkey was an uphill challenge for Indomie. Not only was the Turkish food delicious, it was also relatively inexpensive and Turkish people were extremely fond of the diversity of the cuisine available to them. Meals typically had many courses, and the cooks in the house were proud of their elaborate food preparations.

A mini version of the Turkish spread

A mini version of the Turkish spread

When the team arrived in Turkey, we set about talking to as many locals as we could to get a better perspective of the target customers of Indomie. While some families kindly hosted us in their homes, we met other target customers such as youngsters in universities and coffee shops for focused group discussions and noodle tasting sessions.

Focus group discussions with locals

Focus group discussions with locals

As we expected, many people instantly fell in love with the taste of noodles. However, there were some concerns ranging from healthiness to awareness and packaging, factors that were potentially keeping customers from buying noodles. The Turkish passion for fresh food and local ingredients was unambiguous and very impressive. The bulk of the local population bought their provisions from bi-weekly organic food bazaars, where one could find an extensive variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and spices.

Visiting a food bazaar in Instanbul

Visiting a food bazaar in Instanbul

To gain more insights on customers’ buying habits and concerns, we gathered as much data as we could through ethnographic interviews, surveys and focused group discussions. The team realized that the two biggest bottlenecks in the sales of Indomie noodles were the lack of awareness about the product and perception of noodles as an alien food.

Even though Indomie had been in Turkey for 5 years, they had not invested in marketing their product, and this resulted in very sparse awareness of the noodles. Even when people knew about them, they would hesitate to buy the pack owing to the packaging and perception of flavor of the noodles. The most popular flavors are Eggplant, Beef, Tomato and Yogurt, and a combination of any of these seem to set off hunger bells for any Turkish person. These factors put together yielded in low sales of noodles.

The team ended up giving multiple suggestions for improving sales such as localizing flavors, introducing larger packs etc., all of which fell under one of the 4 P’s of marketing – Product, Price, Placement or Promotions. The suggestions were welcomed by the management, and they reassured the team that their own findings were on similar lines too.

Chris with his recommendation on using brand ambassadors for advertising

Chris with his recommendation on using brand ambassadors for advertising

With the final presentation delivered to the customer, the team had some free time to explore the beautiful and conveniently located country. We managed to squeeze in a few trips to different destinations in Turkey and Egypt, which were all affordable and close to Istanbul. The most memorable trip was to Cairo, where the entire team got to visit the pyramids for the first time!

The IBD Turkey team in Egypt

The IBD Turkey team in Egypt

Overall, the IBD trek was a real success, and the team learned significant facts about challenges in running the instant noodles business, especially in a nascent market. Meeting the beautiful people of Turkey and seeing breathtaking sights over the country were just the icing on the cake!

So if you go to Turkey and see Tomato and Yogurt noodles on a shelf in a supermarket, remember that the Haas IBD team of 2015 probably had something to do with it. Elveda Turkey!

Elveda (goodbye) Turkey -- the team with our client representatives, Yusuf and Diaa

Elveda (goodbye) Turkey — the team with our client representatives, Yusuf and Diaa

Updates from IBD Brazil – Team Geave

“Stunning” Brazil: Update from Team Geave in São Paulo

Alexis Kastrenakes, Jake Qian, Marisa Johnson, and Seungjun Lee


Brazil: the land of samba, churrascarias, and as this Haas IBD team was about to become intimately aware of…the booming aquaculture industry. Despite the country’s expansive coastline and river system, Brazil’s aquaculture sector is still relatively nascent, but growth is expected to exceed the global average for the next five years. Much of the country’s production is tilapia and we were about to get front row seats to see how the sausage (tilapia, that is) gets made.

This is winter?

This is winter?

Our client, Geave, is a São Paulo-based manufacturer of technology equipment solutions for the meat processing industry, and Geave’s leading solution is an electronic stunner for poultry processing. (Don’t worry: their equipment doesn’t actually kill the animal. It actually promotes humane practices as it renders the animal unconscious before the moment of slaughter.) Geave identified a unique opportunity to leverage their food processing technology into the fast-growing aquaculture industry in an effort to diversify their product and customer portfolio. Our project centered on helping the management team understand the aquaculture industry in other markets (Chile, Costa Rica, Norway, and USA), conducting customer, competitor, and partner interviews, and ultimately using these insights to form a recommendation for how Geave should enter the aquaculture market in Brazil. The entire time, and particularly once we conducted customer visits, a huge question loomed in the back of our minds: is the electronic fish stunner, the original focus of our project, really the right solution?

The team traversed Sao Paulo State visiting partners and potential customers

The team traversed Sao Paulo State visiting partners and potential customers

A lighter moment as Team Geave prepares to enter our first fish slaughterhouse

A lighter moment as Team Geave prepares to enter our first first slaughterhouse

We’ve spent the majority of our time working with Geave’s three partners: Luiz “The Comedian”, Giancarlo “The Mad Scientist”, and Jimmy “The Gangster.” They don’t necessarily identify with these characters we’ve bestowed on them, but they are truly, wholly, 100% accurate. Luiz is the quintessential salesperson of the group and leads Geave’s client management initiatives. Giancarlo is the innovator and inventor who has a penchant for engineering and vintage calculators – he even owns a functioning computer from 1968. Jimmy joined the team earlier in 2015 with an engineering background and experience working for SABESP, the water and sewage provider, for nearly two decades. (Check out the picture below and you’ll understand his moniker.) We worked closely with the management team to understand Geave’s strengths, legacy, and vision for future growth.

Jimmy "The Gangster" stops the van so he can test out his new knife on some unsuspecting sugar cane

Jimmy “The Gangster” stops the van so he can test out his new knife on some unsuspecting sugar cane

Our Geave clients: Jimmy, Luiz, and Giancarlo. We found a California taqueria!

Our Geave clients: Jimmy, Luiz, and Giancarlo. We found a California taqueria!

Week 1:

After a nine hour overnight bus (which was surprisingly quite pleasant), we found ourselves in Santa Fé do Sol, the heart of Brazil’s burgeoning tilapia industry at the westernmost point of São Paulo State. We visited fish farms, fish genetics establishments, feed plants, and facilities that processed over 15 tons of live tilapia per day. During our three-day visit, we had the opportunity to gather vast data about customer pain points, farming and slaughter processes, and vendor relationships. We also went on a lot of boat rides around the fish cages, observing feeding, vaccination, grading, and harvesting processes. Some of us were disappointed that there were no anaconda sightings. Others were okay with it.

Alexis observes fish eggs hatching in a genetics nursery

Alexis observes fish eggs hatching in a genetics nursery

The team visits a fish farm in Santa Fe do Sul

The team visits a fish farm in Santa Fe do Sul

Collecting juvenile fish to put in the river cages is a time-intensive process

Collecting juvenile fish to put in the river cages is a time-intensive process

Bringing a new meaning to "farm to table": we observed the fish from hatchey to slaughterhouse at Zippy Alimentos, then ate them in fried form later  that evening

Bringing a new meaning to “farm to table”: we observed the fish from hatchery to slaughterhouse at Zippy Alimentos, then ate them in fried form later that evening

Week 2:

After documenting, discussing, and analyzing some of our Week 1 observations, we spent two days in Pirassununga and Franca, where we visited a larger aquaculture company and met with one of Geave’s software partners. During the partner meeting, we conducted a design thinking session to brainstorm the types of hardware/software products to bring to market. Should they target the handful of larger players that are vertically integrated to cover the entire value chain, or focus on the more numerous but lower-budget small-to-medium players?  Should they create technology solutions for fish processing, or design for the fragmented and less sophisticated fish farming industry? What customer pain points should the hardware/software solution address? What would customers be willing or able to pay? Our half-day session generated insights that allowed us to draft a target product portfolio addressing the burgeoning fish farming industry.


Conducting a design thinking session with Geave’s software partner



Celebratory photo op with our clients and their partners

Celebratory photo op with our clients and their partners

Another day, another fish farm. The view ain't bad...

Another day, another fish farm. The view ain’t bad…

Week 3:

In our last week, we synthesized all of the data points we had gathered and worked to build a business plan for Geave. We brought together all of our stateside background research, customer interviews and observations, and output from our design thinking sessions. Using our toolkit of strategy frameworks, we developed a concrete recommendation on who (small to medium fish farmers), what (solutions to reduce Feed costs and automate the Feeding process — leaving the stunner for later) and where (start with the Santa Fé do Sul area) Geave should focus their market entry. After a successful presentation to our client, Luiz even countered with a response presentation, animating how we destroyed his dreams of producing fish stunning equipment in the short-term, but that our recommendations would allow Geave to pursue an alternative, more strategic direction.


Our trip wasn’t all fried fish skins, rubber boots, and long hours at the office. We managed to sneak away to Rio de Janeiro for a weekend with Team Sony to get a taste of the Brazilian beach lifestyle. We ate feijoada, visited Christ the Redeemer, pretended to be locals on Ipanema Beach, and sampled all of the caipirinhas and blended juice.

Teams Geave and Sony enjoy the sunset at Ipanema Beach

Teams Geave and Sony enjoy the sunset at Ipanema Beach

After three weeks in Brazil, we feel we have seen a side of this country we would have never imagined if we simply visited as tourists. Geave and the people of Brazil made us feel so welcome and we feel so lucky to have had this experience. Thankfully our Brazilian visas are valid for the next ten years, so we will definitely be back. Rio Olympics 2016?

Praying for a swift return to Brazil

Praying for a swift return to Brazil