Team SVB – Garrick Zhu, Pawan Nrisimha, William Frymann, Edmund Choi – are working with SVB in Shanghai to determine its market expansion strategy into East Asia. We have been working with the Shanghai team for the past two weeks and would like to share a perspective from the SVB local folks and also thoughts on the project wrap-up.
Team SVB from the perspective of a hypothetical local:
A “consulting team” arrived last week and is occupying the small corner conference room. The “consultants”—four guys—wear pastel colored dress shirts every day and look uncomfortably sweaty dressed in their slacks. They commute together, walk in and out together, and eat together. They go to the bathroom together sometimes.
They are writing a paper for us but are not doing much writing. They spend all day sitting in a dark conference room with the lights off, writing on poster paper, scrawling on post-it-notes, and bickering loudly. They keep borrowing our office’s only projector, projecting things and gesturing at them furiously.
Things have gotten stranger too. The consultants must be working late. The Indian guy is losing his hair, the white guy has bags under his eyes and is even more pale than usual, and they are all getting fatter. They drink what must be 100 bottles of water every day. To get the water, they send members out to raid the communal fridge. They bring back armloads to their room and close the door behind them. This is probably for the best: their native Chinese speaker has been coughing up both lungs. Is it still possible to get tuberculosis?
Thank goodness they have a native speaker though. The white guy walks around trying to smile and nod, the Indian guy is always saying “mayo ro?” (no meat), and the Chinese foreigner does not seem to speak a word of Mandarin or Shanghainese at all. It is a miracle these guys find their way to our office every day.
They asked for a picture in our offices the other day. Quite a goofy bunch.
The final week and project wrap-up:
Over the weekend, our IBD host invited us to his house for dinner. He and his fiancée prepared a sumptuous barbeque meal. Afterwards we played some friendly poker, and he was friendly enough to let us win over 500RMB. Of course, he denied that.
We also did some sightseeing around the city – the Bund, Shanghai World Financial Center, street markets.
During the final week of the project, our team worked until midnight for three consecutive days. We had increasingly better ideas on how to write the final white paper and also squeezed in last minute interviews in order not to leave out any valuable insights. Altogether, we conducted 50 interviews since the beginning of this IBD project with experts in various fields, including venture capital, technology, operations, and others. Our team is pretty happy with the paper, and we presented our methodology and recommendations to the SVB Chairman over lunch. We hope this project will help SVB’s growth strategy and planning in extending its mission to help entrepreneurs around the world succeed.
To celebrate the conclusion of our IBD work, we met up for dinner with the other IBD team working with Thermo Fisher. Afterwards, we went to four different bars to experience the Shanghai night life, starting at Kartel and ending at Bar Rouge which overlooks the river. Everyone got home safely that night.
Taking the Maglev train back to the airport.