FTMBA students Dan Cho, Cynthia Song, Peter Stilwell, Rob Uvanovic and Qing Ye spent 3 weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires working with Fielo, a B2B loyalty incentivization platform. Here, they describe a typical day in the life of a software startup.
Our client is a Brazilian start-up that was founded by one of our very own Haasies – Sanjay. After studying computer science and working in tech in the Bay Area, he decided to go back to his home country Brazil to explore the untapped technology industry. His first “barrel of gold” came from founding the first ever Salesforce implementation consultancy in Brazil. After more than 10 years of successful track record, Sanjay started his second new venture – a 100% cloud based software solution for automating customer loyalty and engagement. He has come to us for go-to-market advice: which industries should his new product focus on? And how can he target these industries?
Now, let’s take you through a typical day of us on client site.
Morning, 8am – Preparing for Innovation Workshop
Today is the big workshop day! After taking PFPS and hearing how multiple past IBD projects have successfully used PFPS to achieve unexpectedly positive results on client sites, we are determined to give it a go. We came up with an innovation challenge for the client: how might we create win-win relationships between consumer product brands and their channel partners?
First things first – post-it notes. We rushed to the stationery to get multi-color post-it notes. We invited the Chief Customer Office, Demand Generation Officer and several key members on their teams to join the workshop. Before the workshop, our team already did our fieldwork with key experts, so that we are ready to bring in insights.
After a brief introduction to PFPS methodology, everyone is ready to brainstorm, synthesize and come up with a How Might We.
Then the teams got creative coming up ideas, and even got some time to eat the local delicacy – empanadas! See Dan and Peter’s impressed (stuffed) faces!
Lastly, it’s show-time! Final presentations from both teams are full of brilliant ideas and excellent storytelling.
Although the first time using human-centered design approach, the client left very impressed and loved the energy throughout the workshop.
Afternoon, 3pm – The industry expert interviews
Industry expert interviews is a big component of our research approach. In order to understand the pain points and underlying needs of both vendors and their channel partners, we reached out over 200 industry experts since March.
Rob’s LinkedIn Profile
The biggest challenges of conducting interviews? Getting the interview!
The team had a plan. Step 1, look for Haas and Cal alums on LinkedIn with key words such as “sales enablement”, “channel partners”. Step 2, find their personal email addresses in Cal alum platform. Step 3, send a cold email and wait for replies.
And then, there was few reply. Perhaps 1 in 20.
The only person who seemed successful in setting up interviews was Rob. So the team turned to Rob for help. In the second phase of outreach, we did two things differently: 1) we added “incentives” in our cold emails – if people agree to chat, we will share research findings; 2) everyone used Rob’s LinkedIn account to send out interview requests.
This time we heard back from 1 in 2 people we reached out to.
We ended up interviewing 51 from a variety of industries and functions.
Early Evening, 6pm – One more client interview…
We interviewed one of Fielo’s existing clients, Oi, Brazil’s largest telecom, at a café, which was a great experience in being able to pull true insights due to the interview being in Portuguese and right outside Oi’s office. During the interview, we were really able to see the way that business is conducted in Brazil, which is done much more through personal relationships. The interview was over coffee, the staple of any Brazilian business meeting, and began with the customary five minutes of small talk and getting to know each other.
This interview proved a critical turning point in our research, as we began to truly understand why our client’s product had the potential to be very successful. Oi walked us through their case study of how they used our client’s product to incentivize shop owners to sell more of their sim card as opposed to their competitors.
Seeing how a technology product can move from an idea to incentivizing shop owners and store clerks who work in kiosks and sell hundreds of products every day, to specifically push your product over another, was very inspiring.
It was great to see how open our client was in giving us access to their clients and talking about how important these interviews were towards their progress as a company, while it was really neat to see how much detail a large company such as Oi was willing to give a group of students.
This was very symbolic of the way that we have been treated in Brazil, in that if you ask a question, you will almost always get an honest and detailed answer, as people are always looking to help you.