Summer IBD Team Teaches 2 Week Entrepreneurial Course to Students in Harare, Zimbabwe

Written by Sampada Chavan, Kathryn Linarducci, Senthuran Raveendranathan, Yi Zhang, and Praveen Settipalli

The Berkeley Haas IBD team finally arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe on Sunday, July 2 after over 30 hours of travel time. After a quick shower break, we were taken to the ACT headquarters where we met the 24 brilliant students who we will be teaching over the next two weeks.

ACT is a non-profit entrepreneurship development program that aims to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Zimbabwe. It was launched in 2014 and has developed in collaboration with several prior Haas IBD teams. This year’s ACT classroom training has expanded to 3-weeks in length. In the 1st week, students learn the fundamentals of design thinking, identify opportunities in the market, and form teams to address the issues identified. In the 2nd week, students take a break from their own projects to participate in the inaugural corporate hackathon with ACT’s partner, Innscor, a parent company that owns well-known Zimbabwean consumer staples and durable products brands. Students will have the unique opportunity to present their innovative recommendations to Innscor executives. In the 3rd week, students will refocus on the own projects and learn core business skills such as marketing, leadership, strategy, and finance. They will make a final pitch of their project to the ACT Executive Team and local investors. Once students complete the training, they will be eligible for mentorship through ACT and potential seed funding for their own business ideas.

Back (L to R: IBD team -Praveen Settipalli, Sampada Chavan, Kate Linarducci, Yi Zhang, Sen Raveendranathan) Front ( L to R: ACT Program Coordinator Irene Chikumbo, ACT Founder Henri Lambert, LBS intern Zac Orlando)

In addition to the Berkeley IBD team, which consists of team lead Praveen Settipalli (EWMBA Class of 2016) and (EWMBA Class of 2018) Sampada Chavan, Sen Raveendranathan, Kate Linarducci, and Yi Zhang, this year’s ACT teaching team also includes London Business School MBA student Zac Orlando, and former Haas FTMBA IBD students Dan Fishman and Sebastian Amenabar, who are primarily responsible for teaching the third week of classes when the EWMBA IBD team heads back to California.

The IBD team prepared diligently for 7 weeks prior to arriving in Harare, refining the curriculum, creating lesson plans and teaching materials, building out the corporate hackathon, and recommending a strategy for ACT to expand.

On Day 1, we introduced the students to design thinking by redesigning a wallet with the customer in mind. First, students shared and explained the contents of their wallet. Next, each student team converged on a particular item of interest and dug deeper into why and how to design for that item. The teams created prototypes, gathered feedback from the end user and refined their product. The final product was far different than the wallet that they started with. One team found that many people carried receipts in their wallet in order to budget and reconcile their daily spending. Instead of creating a new wallet better suited for carrying receipts, their proposed solution to eliminate receipts with a budgeting tool instead.

We also challenged students to be creative with limited resources. With only $2 of seed capital and 2 hours, students were asked to go out in the field to create value. Judges awarded the ingenuity of the winning team, who spoke to customers at a high-end supermarket to identify an opportunity to charge for smart shopping services to busy shoppers. They did not even use the $2 they were given. Taph Machirori, 30, reflected, “the $2 challenge taught me not to limit myself. I don’t need to be confined with the resources I think I have. Think outside of the box.”

On Day 2, each student had one minute to present a need they see in the market today – these ranged from inefficiencies in the patient experience at hospitals and pharmacies to the lack of recycling in Zimbabwe. Students then voted on the presentation topics that interested them and teams were formed based on their voting preferences and leadership styles.

For the rest of the week, students learned design thinking through a combination of lectures and hands on experience working on their team project. The IBD team taught the students to diverge and converge as they framed and reframed the problem, tested their assumptions, brainstormed and narrowed down their ideas, and created their prototype.

Student teams went out into the field during each step of the process to observe and conduct interviews to validate their assumptions, redefine their “how might we” statement, present their proposal, and receive feedback on their prototype. The Haas IBD instructors shadowed and mentored student teams throughout the week.  Since the design thinking process is not a linear, often times teams were met with unexpected insights that led them to reconsider and pivot in a different direction.

Knowing when to pivot is an important lesson in design thinking and students experienced this first hand with the marshmallow exercise. Teams had 18 minutes to create the tallest free-standing structure possible using 1 meter of string, 1 meter of tape, 20 spaghettis, and 1 marshmallow. The marshmallow had to be at the top of the structure. The team that constructed the winning structure, at 20 inches, iterated several times with the placement of the marshmallow instead of waiting until the time was running out.

At the conclusion of the first week of classes, students expressed their excitement for what they had learned. Gilbert Kumusasa, 27, shared, “even at home, everyone has seen the change in the way I think about things. There’s no limit to anything we can do: be it at home, at work, at social settings. We can use this design thinking process to look at problems and come up with innovative solutions.”

After a long week of teaching and learning, the IBD/ACT team got a taste of Zimbabwean culture on our day off. We enjoyed a leisurely meal of sadza (Zimbabwean typical staple food made out of cornmeal) and stews, which are eaten with your hands. Lunch was so delicious and filling that we decided to walk it off at Domboshava, a granite hill just outside of Harare with ancient cave paintings and spectacular balance rocks.

 

IBD Hong Kong Blog

Written by Andy Kang, Donald Bullock, Brian Burke, Tulio Da Silveira, and Juan Norero

Day Zero

After a 15-hour flight, we’ve finally landed in Hong Kong! Despite being jetlagged, we’re pretty excited about the prospect of living in Asia and working with our client G-Hub, a tech startup. To celebrate, my IBD teammates Donald, Tulio, Brian and I (Willy, our team lead, hadn’t landed yet) had dinner at a Japanese-Brazilian restaurant. Knowing that we would be meeting our client for the first time in just a couple of hours, we called it a night.

Day One

We commuted to work the next morning taking the subway and walking through the busy streets of Hong Kong. Not used to the humidity and covered in sweat, we met Alan, the CEO, and the rest of the G-Hub team mostly consisting of local “Hongkongers.” After introducing us to each of the 10 or so employees that made up the G-Hub team, Alan gave us a quick tour of the small, minimalist, yet quaint open-space office before taking us to the conference room.

This is where he showed us his company’s products. We didn’t fully understand all the technical jargon being used, but we were excited to finally see G-Hub’s temperature and energy-monitoring solutions in person. The products looked amazing—seeing was believing. After hearing about the company’s vision and asking some questions, we had our first official in-country team meeting laying out our project plan and action items.

For lunch, Alan brought us to a wonton noodle soup restaurant, and we were blown away by how amazing the local cuisine was. With satisfied stomachs, we had a productive day revising our Day of Arrival presentation and starting the next phase of our project.

After work, the IBD team and I went to a local bar for happy hour, played some darts, and wrapped it all up with a nice Cantonese-style dinner with two of our classmates Fede and Marisol, who happened to be in the area.

Day Two and Three

After going through our Day of Arrival presentation and receiving valuable feedback from Alan and Nic, the founder of G-Hub, we met with Yannic and Tomny, the chief UI and UX designers, for a product demonstration. This was our first deep interaction with a product designer/programmer, and so we had many questions. Simplicity was the theme. According to Yannic, “you want to make your product as easy as possible for customers to use…you need to balance the many features you want to add with simplicity.”

Afterward, we sat down with Nic and got to hear him talk about his motivations for starting G-Hub, his other entrepreneurial ventures, where he thinks technology is going, and what the future of G-Hub looks like.

For the rest of the day, we dug deep into our MBA toolkit and developed a robust return on investment and customer lifetime value models to better understand the value customers derive from G-Hub’s solutions and prioritize different customer segments.

The epic day concluded at Nic’s place. Not only did we get an amazing view of the bay from his mansion-sized house, but he also served us really good cuts of meat and cheese while sharing his travel stories. With the Latin music fading away and unable to consume any more alcohol or food, we called an Uber and headed home.

Day Five

Today we were invited by the G-Hub team to a large family-style dim sum lunch. Chicken feet, shumai, roasted pork, and steamed pork buns went around the table as we talked about life outside of work and learned about Chinese culture.

For the evening, we met a friend that one of our Haas classmates Jason introduced us to. She and her friends brought us to a brightly-lit local restaurant/bar where we shared drinks with the locals while yelling “Gom bui,” which means cheers, at the top of our lungs. We then went to a more Western area called Lan Kwai Fong where the imbibing continued…

Day 15

After about ten days of work, we trekked to Bangkok led by our very own Donald. And it was love at first sight–the mix of street food, temple visits, and Thai massages was the break that we all needed. What happens in Bangkok stays in Bangkok.

Day 16

Today is a national holiday in Hong Kong, and so today we rode a boat around the Hong Kong harbor. A perfect little break right before our final presentation.

Day 18

I can’t believe it’s all over! Not only did our final presentation with our client go really well, but we all also experienced living in a different culture, worked with a startup, and became a family. IBD was a once-in-a-life-time experience. Excited about the project but a little bit homesick, we said our goodbyes and are headed back to Berkeley. Team IBD Hong Kong out.

Whitney Hischier, Member of the “A Team” IBD Faculty Mentors

Whiney in Busan, Korea

IBD Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier spent most of her career in change management and system implementation consulting, primarily on international assignments.  She is a Berkeley-Haas MBA alumna, but not an IBD alumna.  While an MBA candidate, Whitney was denied admission into the IBD program while because “she already had too much international experience.”

Thankfully, this rejection early in her career didn’t dissuade Whitney from joining the IBD Team in 2009 as a Faculty Mentor so that she could combine three of her passions:  international work, consulting, and experiential learning.  As an IBD Faculty Mentor, Whitney’s role is to coach student teams throughout the IBD course (she is currently mentoring four IBD teams during the spring 2017 IBD program), but Whitney goes beyond guiding her students to figure out a direct solution to their clients’ business challenges.  

“The IBD experience for students is really powerful”, reports Whitney.  “For some, it creates a lifelong love of

Whitney in Jeddah

international travel and work; for others, they realize it’s the last thing they ever want to do.  Either way, this ‘try before you buy’ experience is fantastic to help our students better determine what they want to do when they graduate.”

Ideally, Whitney wants her students to come back from their IBD projects overseas and say “that changed my life” and “I love international work” — but she would settle for good client management and awareness of the wider world.  “Given the current nationalistic political climate in the US and creeping xenophobia, I think IBD is more important than ever to encourage our students to be global citizens”, says Whitney.

As for teaching students to learn or hone their consulting skills, Whitney believes that the role of IBD student consultants is to help their clients gather and structure information to make better management decisions.  Whitney emphasizes that consulting is about the ability to build relationships by listening, asking good questions, and establishing trust.  It goes beyond the skill of researching online.  “Our projects may have a scope around strategy or technology but bottom line, this is all about relationships and people.”  

Whitney and American Univ. Mongolia

Whitney practices what she preaches and her student Team Leads can’t say enough good things about her.  “Whitney is so cool, and so real.  She is unpretentious, approachable and yet gets right down to business to accomplish what is needed”, said Nikkei’s Team Lead, Kasey Koopmans.  “In one particular high stressful moment, Whitney defused our nerves and brought everyone back to earth so we could feel good about our part in the situation.”

For Whitney being a good Faculty Mentor is leveraging her networks “to help students connect with experts and customers who can help with their research.”  Whitney’s network is far and wide, said the Nikkei Team Lead. “Whitney was able to set up many expert interviews for our project. She also offered to connect me with contacts she might have that would help me in my internship hunt.”

Even with this kind of support, Whitney doesn’t micromanage her teams but encourages “students to take risks and learn enough about a subject to be dangerous.”  Her students agree that she does an excellent job of walking the fine line of being there to help when she is needed and remaining hands off.   “She allows us to be creative and to manage the relationship with the client”, according to one of her students. “ I have been able to be the lead on the project and actually do the real-world consulting work.”

Above all, Whitney is fun, says Team Lead Elspeth Ong.  She invited all of her IBD Teams to come over to her house for a team bonding event where they jumped on her trampoline, rode a zipline, and climbed up into a tree house.  As one of our outstanding IBD Faculty Mentors, Whitney Hischier clearly personifies the Berkeley-Haas defining principles of “Confidence Without Attitude” and “Beyond Yourself.”  Thank you, Whitney!

IBD in the World

IBD Director of Development, David Richardson and Executive Director, Kristi Raube, have been traveling around the world the last couple months meeting with alumni and prospective clients to talk about the IBD program.  In fact, Kristi and Dean Lyons were all in Santiago, Chile, this past week at the spectacular venue, Los Majadas de Pirque.

Haas Alumni in Santiago at Las Majadas de Pirque

Haas Alumni in Santiago at Las Majadas de Pirque

120 Haas alumni were in attendance, including the Chilean Haas Alumni Network Chapter President, Marcello Vasquez ( ’02) and one of the owners of Los Majadas de Pirque, Pablo Bosch (’15).  Pablo is also an IBD alumnus and in 2014, he went to Haiti to work with the Haitian Education & Leadership Program (HELP), which provides scholarships to low-income, high-achieving Haitian college students.

David’s travels took him to Bogota, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, this past week and Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing in October.  Meanwhile, Kristi has been to four continents in the last 3 months.  Her travels have taken her to Nigeria, Ghana, Sweden, Norway, Shanghai, Ecuador, Vietnam, and Chile.  All the fruits of Kristi’s and David’s travel will soon reveal themselves in January when the 16 team leads will be assigned to their projects.   We can’t wait to reveal the clients, projects and destinations in March 2017.  Stay Tuned!

Berkeley-Haas alumni dinner in Bogota

Berkeley-Haas alumni dinner in Bogota

Please enjoy photos from both of David’s travels.  To view photos from David’s trip to Latin America, click here and to view photos from his trip to Asia, click here.

Dinner in Hong Kong with Berkeley-Haas alumni James Man and Alan Cheng

Dinner in Hong Kong with Berkeley-Haas alumni James Man and Alan Cheng

Update from IBD Team Fielo

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.

Picture1

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!

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.51.11 AM

Lastly, it’s show-time! Final presentations from both teams are full of brilliant ideas and excellent storytelling.

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 11.54.31 AM

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.

Team busy on the phone doing interviews

Team busy on the phone doing interviews

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.

Picture7

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.

Picture8

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.

Key Takeaways

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.

Updates from IBD Senegal – Team In Touch SA

EWMBA students Marc Valer, Nikhil Pai, Ramy Bebawy, and Zack Bailey traveled to Dakar, Senegal during summer 2015 to work with Senegalese start up company In Touch SA.

Senegal — Three Grown Men in the Back of a Taxi

With a population that’s mostly unbanked, Senegal is a thriving market for money transfer companies and mobile wallet providers who used their understanding of the local market, to disrupt the banking industry.

Our client, In Touch SA, is a Senegalese startup that is looking for opportunities to partner with payment providers to create an aggregated payment platform that can be used to offer valuable services for store owners. They recruited our team, the Dakar Bears, to validate their initial value proposition, evaluate potential partnership opportunities and develop a recommended go to market strategy.

The Dakar Bears team: Marc Valer, Nikhil Pai, Ramy Bebawy and Zack Bailey

The Dakar Bears team: Marc Valer, Nikhil Pai, Ramy Bebawy and Zack Bailey

The Initial Research

We realized early on that the informal nature of the Senegalese economy made it hard to find useful online resources and that most of our work would be based on in-country interviews. So we focused our strategy on narrowing down the list of questions to answer, working with In Touch to set up a thorough interview schedule and using our own networks to find additional contacts to interview in Dakar.

Arrival in Senegal

Arriving on Saturday July 4th, we were greeted by our enthusiastic host, Omar Cissé, the founder of In Touch SA. He gave us a quick tour of Dakar and seeing that we were in good shape, despite 30 hours of travelling across many Time Zones, he took us to meet the In Touch SA team who were working on a presentation for a client meeting the next day.

The team having our first meal in Dakar

The team having our first meal in Dakar

After settling into a spacious Dakar apartment in the up and coming area of the “Sacre Coeur III”, we immediately headed out to a local mall to purchase SIM cards, gaining a first hand knowledge of the mobile providers, and to set up our mobile payment accounts, both of which were relevant to our project.

A self serve machine for the Tigo Cash mobile wallet in Dakar

A self serve machine for the Tigo Cash mobile wallet in Dakar

Communicating our goals

Our day of arrival presentation to the In Touch SA team helped us validate our initial strategy and gather useful feedback. Having continuous daily interaction with the team ensured we were always in sync. It also allowed us to dynamically shift our interview schedule based on our findings.

Our Day of Arrival Presentation

Our Day of Arrival Presentation

Learning about the market

The first week, we focused on interviews with relevant players in the local payments market. These were conducted with an In Touch SA representative to help with the translation since our team did not speak French or Wolof. By the end of our two weeks we had completed 16 interviews, ranging from a Marketing Director for the largest money transfer company in Senegal to small store operators. Our interviews helped us in many ways:

  • Understand how the informal Senegalese economy works and why consumers and store owners use the money transfer services.

intouch6

Local consumer goods store owner and a pharmacist that used money transfer services to supplement their day to day business

Local consumer goods store owner and a pharmacist that used money transfer services to supplement their day to day business

  • Learn about the nascent startup ecosystem in Dakar and sectors where future mobile payment opportunities may exist, such as the education, health services and transportation sectors.
The team with Yann Lebeux, the Director of the CTIC startup accelerator, who walked us through the startup ecosystem in Dakar

The team with Yann Lebeux, the Director of the CTIC startup accelerator, who walked us through the startup ecosystem in Dakar

The team with Africa Consultants International (ACI) a non-profit organization that talked to us about opportunities in the education, and health services sectors where they have a lot of experience

The team with Africa Consultants International (ACI) a non-profit organization that talked to us about opportunities in the education, and health services sectors where they have a lot of experience

  • Clarify the vision, strategy and partnership goals for the major payment providers in Senegal to look for opportunities that In Touch SA could use.
The team with Alioune Kane, Marketing Director for Orange Money, a mobile wallet offered by Orange, the largest Senegalese mobile operator

The team with Alioune Kane, Marketing Director for Orange Money, a mobile wallet offered by Orange, the largest Senegalese mobile operator

The team with Awa Dia, Group Communication Manager for Wari, the largest money transfer service provider in Senegal who explained Wari’s long term vision and partnership goals

The team with Awa Dia, Group Communication Manager for Wari, the largest money transfer service provider in Senegal who explained Wari’s long term vision and partnership goals

  • Find opportunities for strategic partnerships with companies that could help In Touch SA distribute their technology through an existing distribution network.
The team and Omar Cissé with Bagoré Bathily, founder of La Laiterie du Berger, the biggest producer of dairy products from local milk in Senegal

The team and Omar Cissé with Bagoré Bathily, founder of La Laiterie du Berger, the biggest producer of dairy products from local milk in Senegal

Formulating a strategy and our final presentation

After collecting all the data, it was time to use these insights to formulate a proposed strategy for In Touch SA and work on our final presentation. We made use of what we have learned in Haas courses, such as Problem Finding, Problem Solving, to organize our ideas, develop a work plan and execute on it.

The team working on our final deliverables in In Touch’s main office

The team working on our final deliverables in In Touch’s main office

Organizing our findings through a diverge/converge exercise

Organizing our findings through a diverge/converge exercise

On our second to last day in Senegal, we presented our findings to the entire In Touch SA team. The presentation included an overview of our research methodology, an evaluation of their value proposition, an assessment of partnership opportunities and our recommended go to market strategy.

Our final presentation

Our final presentation

Out and about in Senegal

Our two weeks in Senegal were full of experiences that helped us gain a better perspective of the country. The In Touch SA team also went out of their way to show us a good time and give us a chance to experience Senegal on a more personal level. We had a ton of fun, learned a lot and made some new friends, as well.

On our second day in Dakar, we went to the beach with some of the In Touch SA team. We had a great time playing pickup soccer (football) games with locals in the sand.

Dakar Bears with with In Touch SA team after the Pickup soccer game at the beach

Dakar Bears with with In Touch SA team after the Pickup soccer game at the beach

We were also invited to participate in a weekly soccer game at a nearby college, where we eked out a win. With the exception of Marc, the Dakar Bears contribution to this feat is somewhat questionable.

An exhausted and sweat drenched team after a soccer game at the local college

An exhausted and sweat drenched team after a soccer game at the local college

Over the weekend, Omar, In Touch SA’s founder, took the entire team on a trip to the N’Dangane on the Sine Saloum, where we visited the house where Léopold Senghor, the first Senegalese president, was born and visited some of the islands in the area, where the locals graciously welcomed us.

The house where Léopold Senghor was born

The house where Léopold Senghor was born

There is always time to talk about business even on a boat on our way to some of the islands in the N’Dangane area

There is always time to talk about business even on a boat on our way to some of the islands in the N’Dangane area

Marc and Zack showing pictures to local kids on one of the islands in Sine Saloum

Marc and Zack showing pictures to local kids on one of the islands in Sine Saloum

During our second week we were invited to attend the French National Day celebrations in Dakar

Attending 14th July festivities organized by the French embassador

Attending 14th July festivities organized by the French embassador

We also visited the local market, Marché Sandaga, where we bargained hard for gifts and souvenirs.

A textile factory in the local market

A textile factory in the local market

We also had a lot of fun dining and discovering Senegalese cuisine

intouch22

intouch23

intouch25

From Dibiterie to Thieboudienne family style meals we explored a wide variety of Senegalese dishes

From Dibiterie to Thieboudienne family style meals we explored a wide variety of Senegalese dishes

We took more than 60 taxi trips around town, where we learned what it takes to tell taxi drivers where to go, while bargaining hard for our taxi fares (a standard practice).

Post it notes with what we should ask the Taxi drivers in order to take us there

Post it notes with what we should ask the Taxi drivers in order to take us there

Timelapse of our team in the back of the numerous taxi rides around town

Timelapse of our team in the back of the numerous taxi rides around town

In Conclusion

Senegal is a country of many opportunities. We met entrepreneurs working hard on disrupting the status quo and a lot of people who were proud and happy to share their culture. In the short time we spent there, we gained a solid understanding of the local payments industry, immersed ourselves in Senegalese culture, had a lot of fun around town and made some great friends on the In Touch SA team who further enhanced this amazing experience.

This might have been our first trip to Senegal, but it won’t be our last!

Jai-rruh-jef

[Thank you in the Wolof language]

Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine is a 49m (160ft) tall bronze statue unveiled in Dakar in front of 19 African heads of state in April 2010

Le Monument de la Renaissance Africaine is a 49m (160ft) tall bronze statue unveiled in Dakar in front of 19 African heads of state in April 2010

The picturesque view of the beautiful city of Dakar from the African Renaissance Monument

The picturesque view of the beautiful city of Dakar from the African Renaissance Monument

 

Updates from IBD Hungary – Team National Toll Payment Services of Hungary

Working to Bring Hungarian Road Tolling to the USA

In the summer of 2015 our Haas IBD team (Mayank Gupta, Jason Silver, Udayan Naik, and Andy (Xi) Chen) spent two weeks in Budapest, Hungary.  Our task was to develop an actionable US market entry strategy for the National Toll Payment Services of Hungary.  Our client developed, owned, and operated the entire Hungarian toll system for private and commercial vehicles.  They knew there was huge potential in the US market, but they did not know where to begin when it came to potential projects and contacts.

Our team donned safety vests and went on site to see mobile toll enforcement in action!  From left to right: Xi “Andy” Chen, Udayan Naik, Jason Silver, Mayank Gupta

Our team donned safety vests and went on site to see mobile toll enforcement in action! From left to right: Xi “Andy” Chen, Udayan Naik, Jason Silver, Mayank Gupta

Over the six weeks in Berkeley, our team worked extensively to learn about the Hungarian toll system as well as the US tolling market.  This was entirely new territory for this team of silicon valley engineers and was a daunting task.  In fact, the biggest challenge initially was scoping the project.  The team quickly found that trying to wrap our head around this topic without expert help would be impossible.

As the trip approached we made key contacts in academia, industry and government agencies.  These were essential to our final solution and taught us a valuable lesson.  People are willing to help out total strangers more than you might realize, and these discoveries might mean the difference between a dead end and amazing insights.

The central control room.  Andy really enjoyed the multiple monitor display that filled the entire wall.

The central control room. Andy really enjoyed the multiple monitor display that filled the entire wall.

Ultimately we delivered a solution that the client deemed “better than he expected”, that was “very professional”, and which was created through “impressive teamwork”.  We hope that with our recommendations and by connecting our client to key experts, this will be the first step in their successful entry into the US market.

The war room!  This is where all the magic happened over the two weeks.  Synthesizing the knowledge we gained in country with the methods learned at Haas to create an action plan for the client.

The war room! This is where all the magic happened over the two weeks. Synthesizing the knowledge we gained in country with the methods learned at Haas to create an action plan for the client.

Final presentation day!  From left to right: Mayank Gupta, Udayan Naik, Jason Silver, Xi “Andy” Chen

Final presentation day! From left to right: Mayank Gupta, Udayan Naik, Jason Silver, Xi “Andy” Chen

While the work was the reason we came to Budapest, do not be mistaken that we did not enjoy the city as well.  Budapest is a beautiful, vibrant city full of welcoming locals.  Our client treated us better than we ever could have hoped for.  The pictures below show just some of our on site visits…and oh the gigantic two hour lunches.  These were of course some of the most rewarding experiences as we exchanged insights on our relative cultures over delicious food and often great beer and wine!

The lunches and dinners with our client were lengthy and delicious affairs.  They gave us an opportunity only to not discuss business, but even more importantly, to bond as friends and learn about Hungarian culture.

The lunches and dinners with our client were lengthy and delicious affairs. They gave us an opportunity only to not discuss business, but even more importantly, to bond as friends and learn about Hungarian culture.

Our first dinner with Zoltan and Tibor at a traditional Hungarian restaurant on the Buda side of Budapest.

Our first dinner with Zoltan and Tibor at a traditional Hungarian restaurant on the Buda side of Budapest.

 

Updates from IBD South Africa – Team African School for Excellence

EWMBA students Susan Hsieh, Melissa Tsang, Cameron Passmore, and Kate DeLeo worked with African School for Excellence, a non-profit organization based in South Africa.

ase1

Johannesburg, South Africa

7:15am Breakfast

Our guesthouse in Melville, Life on 3rd, serves breakfast every weekday morning from 7-9am. There is a self-serve selection of cereals, yogurt, fruit, and toast, along with coffee, tea, and juice. Once we’ve settled into “our table”, one of the women who work there (Lydia, Beulla, or Blessings) will come and take our “hot breakfast” order. So far, every day has been an offering of eggs, bacon, and mushrooms. Between our group, we’ve had the eggs almost every way conceivable — scrambled, fried, hard boiled, an in an omelette. One day we’ll have to ask for them poached. The information booklet in our rooms says that the breakfast offering runs the gamut from American to traditional South African. Five days in we are yet to see an option other than eggs, bacon, and mushrooms. Regardless, the food is tasty and is a great way to begin our days.

ase2

8:00am Pickup

Our client, Jay Kloppenberg, the co-founder of ASE, comes to pick us up after breakfast. We are heading to the flagship school in Tsakane, a township about 40 minutes southeast of Johannesburg. The site is remote and there is no good way for us to get there ourselves, so we appreciate his hospitality. Even though it is winter break, there is a holiday program called Accelerate running at the school to recruit students for the following year, and Jay continues to have meetings on site as well. As we head further and further out of JoBurg, the roads are becoming more and more remote. When we turn off the highway onto the road into the township, it feels as if we are in a different world. Paved roads turn into dirt streets and it seems as though the entire community is milling about. As it turns out, the unemployment rate in the area is nearly 80% so majority of the community remains close to home every day. Most see their children’s education as their single opportunity to employment, which adds a deeper appreciation as to the symbolism of the school as we enter the school grounds.

9:00am – 1:00pm African School for Excellence (ASE) visit

We arrive at the school and are the only car there. The school looks empty, and we are not even sure if anyone is there. Not long after we park, the head of school, Berkia Banda, comes out to greet us and asks to have a word with Jay in private. We later learn that Mr. Banda had just gotten off the phone with a Grade 8 scholar whose father has just passed away. This interaction serves to remind us that while the school is an oasis to the students and community, it cannot overcome all the ills that the students face.

ase3

We are then greeted by four Grade 9 scholars who are at school over their break to help out mentor students in the Accelerate program. Jay asks them to show us around, and the eight of us head down the hill toward the school. As they begin the tour, teaching us about the school and sharing personal anecdotes about their favorite classes and teachers, we naturally break off into pairs, each of us taking our own route throughout the school with our personal guide-peaking into classrooms and exploring the library.

Once the official tours end, we start having personal sessions with teachers and students. Topics range from how everyone became involved with ASE to the plot of a novel that one scholar is writing to how to say “hello” in the language that another scholar invented. The one message that reverberates across each conversation is everyone’s love of the school. The feeling is palpable and contagious.

ase4

2:00pm Lunch

When we arrive back in Melville, we pick up some salads downtown to supplement leftovers from last night’s dinner. We had ventured to a neat little restaurant called Ant Cafe, recommended to us by Bernard, the owner of our guesthouse. The food was great, but we severely misjudged the portions and ended up with more food than could fit on the table. But it was nothing that couldn’t be solved by some creative combining…of a chair placed at the end of our table to hold the excess. Needless to say, we didn’t finish it all. As an added bonus, a local overheard our conversation about our upcoming weekend trip to Cape Town as we were waiting for our food and shared her insider knowledge of the best restaurants and trails to try as a “thank you” for our work in the community!

ase5

3:00pm Work Session

We eat lunch back in the guesthouse courtyard before heading into the boardroom to do some work. “Boardroom” may be a slightly misleading term. It consists of a table in an indoor/outdoor room. Fortunately, it has power, heat, and wifi. Sort of. Despite showing full connectivity, there are pockets of time where the internet slows to a crawl. The effect on our progress on our slides for Monday’s mid-trip meeting with Jay is drastic, but it gives us time to test out the whiteboard. It turns out that “whiteboard” is also a misleading term. We learn too late that what we thought was a whiteboard easel is in fact just an easel without paper loaded on, and the dry erase marker is a Crayola. At least we’ve left our mark.

ase6

6:00pm Break

We take a brief break from work to retreat to our rooms before dinner. We have adjoining rooms with two single beds in each. The rooms are cozy and although we’re in Africa, we are appreciative of the heating system and heated blankets in our rooms. We quickly check the WhatsApp stream that we share with our fellow EWMBA students who are in country to check on the progress of our colleagues across the world. After sending a quick update to the group and to our friends and families back home, we order an Uber – which luckily enough for us is operates in Johannesburg (one of three cities served across South Africa!) and file out to dinner.

7:00pm Outing with ASE team

During one of our weekly calls while we were still in Berkeley, we told Jay that we wanted to take some of his team out to get to know them and to show our appreciation. He ended up picking a spot nearby that we had read about in a few travel books and were curious to try. The reviews were an interesting juxtaposition of a “not to be missed” restaurant and a dive bar.

We arrive with Jay to meet two members of his team that were supposed to already be there. A quick sweep of the place doesn’t show them, and the hostess tells us they are actually preparing for a large group so there might not be space for us. We are making our way to the door, assuming they’ve gone elsewhere, when Jay, who is on the phone with the others in our group, says “What? The secret room?”. Before he’s off the phone, our hostess starts walking towards some occupied tables, indicating we should follow. She goes between them and reaches out to the floor-to-ceiling built-in bookcases against the wall, opening a hidden door to this aptly-named secret room.

ase7

Over wine, tisers and barbecue ribs, we begin to relax in the informal atmosphere where we get to truly know everyone. The one founder shares his background and love of education as well as some of his favorite stories from his students. The other shares her personal struggles to get through college and how her family has helped drive her success. The others share how much they truly care about and love the students, underscoring just the students reliance on the teachers for strength is a two-way street. We are all sorry to have the night come to a close.

10:30pm Arrive back at our guesthouse

We reflect on the fun night on our way back but have to admit that we’re somewhat relieved to be heading to bed. We typically cap the night off with one final text message to our loved ones back west before either turning to a book or quickly turning on the TV, which seems to consistent primarily of bad U.S. movies from the 90’s (or earlier). While it’s been a long day, we’re excited for the adventures to come tomorrow!

ase8

 

Updates from IBD China – Team CreditEase

Berkeley-Haas Evening & Weekend MBA students Jason Eaves, William Huang, Arthur Ng, and Harish Srinivasan participated in a summer IBD project in Beijing, China with CreditEase’s P2P Online Lending platform Yirendai.

First week in country

The team received a warm welcome from the clients during our first day visit at the Yirendai office. We presented the day of arrival presenation to the Yirendai CFO (Dennis Cong, Berkeley-Haas EWMBA Alumnus) and the senior management team. Our client had also arranged meetings for us with other CreditEase departments on Tuesday, which included Wealth Management, Personal Loans and Risk Management. To fully understand the internet finance industry in China, we performed personal interviews with our clients, industry experts and end-users. Our team members were able to obtain several good insights which helped us identify opportunites for Yirendai to further improve their marketing, operations, product development and business development functions.

First day of arrival lunch with clients at the Yirendai office (Chaoyang District, Beijing)

First day of arrival lunch with clients at the Yirendai office (Chaoyang District, Beijing)

LendIt Group Dinner with CEO of CreditEase Mr. Ning Tang (Restaurant 1949, Beijing)

LendIt Group Dinner with CEO of CreditEase Mr. Ning Tang (Restaurant 1949, Beijing)

Mobile Finance and Online P2P Lending in China

We were very fortunate to be physically in Beijing to attend the 2015 China Mobile Finance Conference/LendIt China with our clients during the first week of our in-country work. With a growing mobile user base, China has elevated the use of mobile services and online P2P platforms to include services such as mobile payments, Internet finance, transportation, home renovation, and lodging.

The LendIt conference featured several guest speakers and panelists including executives from leading Chinese mobile and P2P lending companies, representatives from P2P regulatory associations, and executives from U.S. P2P lending companies/ including Ron Suber from Prosper and Jeremy Todd from Orchard Capital. All speakers offered their key insights on the growing Chinese P2P market and the steps that need to be taken in order to continue the momentum. After the conference day, our client invited us to an intimate dinner with their leadership team and the US executives where we had the opportunity to network and learn more about global P2P trends directly from the top experts in the field.

2015 Mobile Finance International Summit/LendIt China (National Conventional Center, Beijing)

2015 Mobile Finance International Summit/LendIt China (National Conventional Center, Beijing)

Taste of China

With such a large population and so much cultural diversity, Beijing had not only the traditional northern cuisines, but also a good variety of regional foods from all over China.

Peking Duck- the signature dish of Beijing

Peking Duck- the signature dish of Beijing

We are very fortunate to have worked with Kelly Zheng (Corporate Strategist for CreditEase), who kindly took us to several specialty restaurants for dinner, even after a long day of work. The cultural experience of Chinese dining certainly surprised us and some of the foods were also quite challenging to eat.

Team dinners with our client (Kelly Zheng) at traditional Beijing style restaurants

Team dinners with our client (Kelly Zheng) at traditional Beijing style restaurants

Culture, History, and Art of China

As China has emerged to become a major economic power – with annual double digit growth rates – it is easy to overlook its heritage in light of the modernization happening throughout the country. While there are countless office buildings and skyscrapers under construction in the city center, China’s rich culture has remained at the foundation of its rapid forward progress. While in-country we took some time to visit historical sites and experience the performing arts.

Chinese “Face Change” performance originated from the Szechuan province

Chinese “Face Change” performance originated from the Szechuan province

The Great Wall of China, just outside of Beijing

The Great Wall of China, just outside of Beijing

Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty Emperor located in Beijing

Summer Palace of the Qing Dynasty Emperor located in Beijing

Final Thoughts

Despite only two weeks of in-country work, our team was deeply immersed in the local business culture, food, and way of life. We observed that Chinese financial technology firms can have ambitious goals while having fun at the same time. During the process of coming up with recommendations, we leveraged the strengths of each team member and used the frameworks we learned at Haas. In our final presentation, we introduced our Berkeley-Haas innovation process to Yirendai’s executive management team and got positive feedback on our strategic recommendations related to brand awareness, net promoter score, partnerships, innovation process, and data strategy.

Berkeley-Haas IBD China Team presented CAL gear to the Yirendai management team

Berkeley-Haas IBD China Team presented CAL gear to the Yirendai management team

Updates from IBD Ghana – Team Reach for Change

EWMBA students Michael Fitch, Wei Kwan, and Nachiket Torwekar spent their Summer IBD project working with Reach for Change in Accra, Ghana.

A Day in the Life of the Ghana IBD Team

Our group of three was assigned to consult for Reach for Change, a Swedish based social impact incubator that primarily focuses on improving the lives of children and young adults.  They were founded as the non-profit arm of the Swedish investment company Kinnevik group.  Reach for Change currently operates in 16 nations worldwide, with a six locations in Africa.  We were assigned to work for the program office in Accra, Ghana which also housed the management team for the entire African continent.

The Reach for Change office had just recently moved from the Osu area of Accra to the North Industrial Area, known for recycling plans and factories for large corporations.  The office is housed in a newly remodeled building that is still partially vacant but had the great benefit of having a full restaurant as one of their tenants, which is where we had a majority of our meals.  The Reach for Change team had arranged accommodations for us at a local hotel, The Swan Hotel, which was located about 10-15 minutes away from the office by foot.  It was really nice to be able to walk to the office on a daily basis.

7:45 Gather at the Hotel Lobby

rfc1

We started the day with some friendly competition to keep ourselves honest. We then took a short walk to the office which was around six blocks away. The mini market workers knew Mike’s name by day three and called out to him every time we walked by. We passed the Qodesh on our way – the largest branch of Lighthouse International in Accra.  Since the addressing system in Ghana is unusable, street names have no meaning since no one uses them, the Qodesh was the landmark we used to help our taxi drivers navigate back to our hotel or to the office.

rfc2

8:00 Walk to the Office

Breakfast at La Galette

Breakfast at La Galette

The office is in the same building as a local eatery, that serves “continental” cuisine which meant they served a mix of Italian, Ghanaian, and Lebanese food.  We ate many of our meals including all of our breakfasts here.  The omelet and coffee collection is very good and makes for a great breakfast.  We were regulars by our third day and the staff remembered what our standard order was. We were usually the first customers there and the music started playing only when we walked in.  Given that there were not many food choices nearby other than sidewalk stalls with street food, this was a lifesaver for us on more than one occasion.

9:00 Arrive in the R4C Office

rfc4

The Reach for Change office was relatively modern with most necessities available including the very crucial AC system.  We were offered a conference room on the second floor where we worked, brainstormed and presented our findings. The staff stopped by once in a while and chatted with us, gave us information and constant feedback as we progressed on our project.  One added benefit was that there was a mango lady in the area that came by everyday to the door and sold delicious mangoes for around four cedi.

rfc5

10:00 Taxi Negotiations

rfc6

Around 10, it was the time for the first meeting of the day. The taxis are the main modes of travel within the city. They were freely available but required bargaining since the fares are not regulated by the government and each driver sets his own market rate.  We got pretty good at bargaining by the second day but someone from the Reach for Change staff occasionally helped us out and got us a better deal since foreign rates are still higher than the rate for locals.

11:00 Meeting a change leader

Kaneshi Market

A Change Leader is a social entrepreneur that is funded by Reach for Change that is devoted to a social cause that directly impacts the lives of children and young adults.  We met change leaders in various environments – rural areas, garages, modern office spaces and even in a warehouse in the busiest market in the city. Visiting Change Leaders on-site actually gave us a better picture of the fundamental issues they were dealing with. We typically interviewed the Change Leaders for an hour and also got their feedback on the financial tool-kits that we had prototyped.

rfc7

rfc8

rfc9

rfc10

2:00 Partner meeting

We tried to understand the ecosystem that Reach For Change operated in by meeting with all the players including: competitors, partners, other entrepreneurs and Change Leaders.  The partner meetings with UNICEF and VIASAT1 (#1 local TV channel) were extremely helpful in helping us understand what the partners were looking for in the relationship.  Most people we encountered seemed really interested to talk to us and gave candid responses.

rfc12

rfc11

4:00 Back to office and to the drawing boards

rfc14

rfc13

We usually got back to office prior to calling it a night for one last round of discussion the the day’s events and consolidated the findings from our interviews.  We revisited our hypothesis and prepped for the next day’s sessions. The Reach for Change staff would stop by and ask about our day, very eager to hear what we found out.  We then headed back to the hotel in anticipation of heading out for the night to blow some steam.

7:00 Night life @Republic

Live African music at The Republic

rfc15

Most of our nights ended with chilling at local bars and cafes. The Republic was a favorite with its street side setting, signature drinks and appetizers.  The Republic is the most popular venue for expats, foreigner and locals to gather in the evening.  We encountered key people from one of the local Hubs on a regular basis at the Republic, which goes to show the power of networking over drinks and food in Ghana.  Live bands and DJs are part of the regular entertainment line up and Friday and Saturday nights are the most lively.  Interestingly enough we were joined by our clients on most of the nights out which enabled us to build a stronger working relationship with them.

The days flew by in a jiffy. We met a lot of inspiring people who were very forthcoming with information and treated us very well. We made many new connections and good friends. The three of us bonded a lot through the tough days and the laid back evenings.  Most importantly, each day we spent there broadened our views and enriched our lives.  We walked away with a profound sense of appreciation for what the organization aims to do amidst a shrinking pool of resources for the Change Leaders.  The Change Leaders drive and sense of mission towards children was admirable.  We were touched by all the stories we heard that inspired each Change Leader to be dedicated towards their cause.  We leave Ghana with a sense of accomplishment knowing that our project has put Reach for Change a step closer towards their goal of helping Change Leaders create more impact in the lives of needy children.