Ford Shanghai – 2018 IBD

Members: James Westhafer (team lead), Sandra Tamer, Alyssa Warren, John Sheffield, Joe Akoni

Figure : The Ford Asia-Pacific headquarters in the Shanghai neighborhood of Pudong

Figure : The Ford Asia-Pacific headquarters in the Shanghai neighborhood of Pudong

The Ford-Shanghai team was tasked with a very unique problem in their IBD project: How can Ford improve their customer experience in the “pre-drive” space (before a journey starts) and the”post-drive” space (after the journey ends).  It was a relevant problem for multi-national company because so much of Ford’s internal effort is spent on the “in-flight” (during the journey) customer experience. We spent the spring semester at Berkeley researching customer use cases, benchmarking the competitive landscape, and speaking with as many Ford employees as possible to better educate ourselves on this unique problem.  We knew that our in-country experience in China at the end of the spring semester would be immersive and we came in with high expectations. Our time in Shanghai exceeded these expectations and gave us a level of exposure and experience that none of us thought was possible when we were sitting at our gate ready to board our flight to China on May 11.

After registering at the front desk of the Shanghai Information Center in the skyscraper-laden Shanghai neighborhood of Pudong and passing through the facial-recognition security checkpoint, we arrived on the 36th floor of Ford’s Shanghai office.  Our first day was filled with meetings of Ford executives, in groups ranging from strategy to Ford Smart Mobility to their Autonomous/Electric vehicle division.  It was the epitome of “drinking from the firehose” as we continued to educate ourselves on a very complex topic. We soon realized that talking and listening is only one component, and to fully understand the travel woes in urban China, our team had to experience it for ourselves.  We spent the entire second day of our project moving through Shanghai: subways at rush hour, the bus during non-peak hours, the dock-less bike share program, Didi (Uber equivalent in China), and even more.  

    

Experiencing the true urban China mobility experience first-hand was essential for our understanding of the true pains of residents and Ford customers.  It’s these pain points that drive Ford’s strategy in product development and partnership selection and an area that we believed to be a key area of focus in our project.  We didn’t have much time to debrief after our mobility outing because we were scheduled to travel to Beijing on Thursday for all-day meetings on Friday. We wanted to meet with other key Chinese mobility players to better understand their strategies for addressing customer pain points in the pre and post-drive space.  The partners we visited—Didi (Uber equivalent in China), Mobike (China’s most promising and successful dock-less bike company) and Shouqi (Didi competitor)—would be a great data point on how other companies in China were thinking about similar mobility problems.

 

After a marathon day of meetings, we were able to unwind a bit and take in the local flavors of northern China.  There was an eventful Beijing night that included the local favorite dish of Peking duck and a Chinese alcohol specialty, Bijou.  The next day, the team made a memorable trip to the Great Wall of China that far-exceeded everyone’s expectations. We had a great tour guide that educated us on all-things Chinese history and helped put the grandeur of the Great Wall into perspective.  It was a highlight of our trip and certainly a lifetime memory for all of us.

An amazing day trip to Huanghugcheng, north of Beijing, to visit a relatively tourist-less portion of the Great Wall

An amazing day trip to Huanghugcheng, north of Beijing, to visit a relatively tourist-less portion of the Great Wall

We got back to work the following Monday and began designing and creating a comprehensive interview guide that would help to validate (or disprove) some of our customer painpoint takeaways from our mobility outing and various meetings from the week before.  We lined up a number of Ford employees and other Shanghai residents that ranged from ages 23 to 60 in order to help our team better understand mobility trends and personal travel pain points in urban China. We had some very interesting and thought-provoking conversations that validated some of our personal painpoint takeaways, but also some unique nuggets that we used to develop some preliminary recommendations.  

As the week progressed, we had more meetings and team brainstorms to start landing on what our final recommendations would be to the Ford team.  There were many long nights as our team sifted through the massive amounts of data and information that we had in front of us from the 2 weeks of immersive meetings and interviews.  We left the Ford office on Friday on the second week of our in-country visit with a clear (yet ambitious) presentation outline that we would delve into during our last week.

Figure 7: The Ford team working through some slides in “CR-9 War Room”, the designated space for the team during their stay in Shanghai.  Lots of snacks, coffee and water were needed.

Figure 7: The Ford team working through some slides in “CR-9 War Room”, the designated space for the team during their stay in Shanghai. Lots of snacks, coffee and water were needed.

The final week in Shanghai consisted of long working sessions to perfect the slide deck that would be presented to senior Ford leadership at 8am on Thursday May 31st, the last day of the project.  The climax of the in-country experience came on Wednesday May 30th when the team worked from 7:30am until 10:30pm at night, which included a final run through of the presentation in our hotel room while eating one last meal of Shanghai’s famous “soup dumplings”.  

The final presentation on Thursday morning was a wild success.  We presented to the head of Asia Pacific Ford Smart Mobility and the head of Asia Pacific Strategy for Ford along with a number of other Ford executives.  After presenting our findings and making final recommendations on Ford’s strategy in China, the VP of Strategy for Asia Pacific (formerly a partner at Bain Consulting in Shanghai) said that the presentation “exceeded his expectations” and that he saw really tangible ideas that could make a difference in China.  He even started brainstorming with Ford’s lead on Connected Services on how some of our recommendations could be piloted in China! It was a very rewarding ending to the project and validated the hard work that we put in throughout the spring semester. It was an absolutely amazing experience for all 5 members of the team and will certainly be a highlight of our two years at Haas.  We want to publicly thank the Ford team for their help and support throughout the project. It was a joy working with the Shanghai team and we are happy that our recommendations could have a lasting impact for the company. From the entire team, xiè xie for everything, Ford!

The Ford team on the 36th floor of the Shanghai Information Tower in Pudong on the last day of their project.  Thanks for everything Ford!

The Ford team on the 36th floor of the Shanghai Information Tower in Pudong on the last day of their project. Thanks for everything Ford!

 

Haas Goes to China; Experiences a Fusion of Culture and Technology

Written by Nausher Cholavaram, Rohan Balwani, Tanya Gupta, Pradeep Khanal, and Edi Lim

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

We just returned from China after completing a two-week stint with Yirendai, a FinTech company based in Beijing. Our time was filled with experiences that enriched us professionally, personally, and culturally. We learned about the booming economy in China and the uncertainty that comes with it. We also talked to company leads and learned how they think about company strategy. The two weeks were also great exposure to Chinese culture both at and outside of work. We tried different types of Chinese food, watched traditional Chinese opera, and participated in some heavy bargaining when shopping.

Client and project overview

Yirendai, our client, is a leading FinTech company in China. It is a dominant player in the Chinese peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry and has recently expanded into the Online Wealth Management space. Having made a huge impact in China, Yirendai is now setting their sights on the US!  Yirendai enlisted our help to explore options for their expansion into the US market.

This ask posed a very interesting challenge for us. On one hand, China is far ahead in the world of FinTech with their ubiquitous use of technology for making payments and conducting business via mobile phones. For example, we saw panhandlers and street musicians display QR codes for WePay to facilitate donations, and we ate at a food court where no cash or credit cards were accepted. On the other hand, we learned that Chinese investors don’t possess the same level of sophisticated planning and diversification that investors in other markets do. When we synthesized all of our learnings and presented our final presentation to Yirendai, they had very incisive questions and couldn’t help themselves but become excited by the ideas we presented.

Project Details

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

We started the research for our project while in the US. We spent 3 weeks researching P2P Lending and Wealth Management industries in general and our client’s business in particular. We read hundreds of documents about both industries, downloaded P2P lending apps to learn their features and user experience, conducted surveys, and interviewed contacts about their investing behaviors. We had insightful exchanges with our clients where we validated our understanding from field studies with their expert knowledge. The work was intense but totally worth it.

As we arrived in China, we prepared our recommendation. We surveyed the problem-solving toolkit – financial modeling, SWOT, business model canvas, and go-to-market strategy framework – we learned at Haas and implemented them to build our recommendation. We had several discussions about customer segmentation, product differentiation, and customer acquisition strategy with our client’s CFO, Head of Online Wealth Management, Director of Investor Relations, and Head of Product Management. Their invaluable input helped mold our recommendation.

Cultural Immersion

Though China has been lauded for its recent economic advancement, it has a long history of rich culture and tradition. Besides our client, Yirendai, our team was very excited about the Great Wall. We went to the Jinshanling section, which was very scenic and less crowded. Walking 6 hours on the Great Wall didn’t feel enough. We were astonished by its grandeur and humbled by its expanse. Our day at the Great Wall was definitely one of the finest experiences of our stay in China.

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

Beijing is full of other historical and cultural sites as well. We visited the Forbidden City, a historical palace museum in Beijing. We toured the Tiananmen Square and other important sites in Beijing including the Temple of Heaven, the Summer Palace, and the Lama Temple. We went to the popular Antique market and also playfully immersed ourselves in a  bit of haggling at Beijing’s popular Pearl and Silk markets.

It was a little disheartening to see sun only twice due to poor air quality during our 2-week stay in Beijing, but we remain hopeful the measures being implemented currently will continue to make improvements.

Following our final presentation, our client treated us to a traditional Beijing style dinner along with Beijing Opera – quite a fitting end to our 2 weeks stay in Beijing.

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

The China trip was incredible and the IBD experience, priceless. It was like opening the wardrobe and venturing into a new world, both professionally and culturally, with talented fellow Haasies! Our relationship with the client did not end with the conclusion of the project. We are still in touch through WeChat and plan to meet our client on their next visit to the US for a roadshow in the second half of 2018.

 

IBD Team 51job

Written by Andrew Efstathiou, Johna Seo, Vir Choksi and Liz Jung

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Early in the morning, rising to my feet, I open my bedroom curtains to the cacophony of the city and the bustling freeway outside of our window, cutting through Shanghai like a knife through tofu. Today is another day where we need to suit up and head to a large, multinational firm to interview them on their international recruitment strategy. Our client, 51job, is one of the largest recruitment firms in the Middle Kingdom and has come a long way since its inception at the turn of the century. With over 5,500 employees and offices throughout first, second, and third-tier cities in China, 51job is leading the way in helping China’s youth obtain work. With an economy growing at a rapid clip, more and more students that study overseas are looking to return home to start a life and a career. Our assignment at this crucial inflection point for overseas returnees, or “sea turtles” as they are known in the local parlance, is to help our client figure out how to best serve these students.

Office visit to Bloomberg

The office visit to Bloomberg

Today we head downtown to speak with a recruiter at Bloomberg, a large, global financial services firm. The room where we are conducting our interview is filled with Bloomberg terminals and overlooks the Bund, which contains a large radio tower that rests amongst scores of recently constructed skyscrapers, emphasizing the breakneck pace of development that the People’s Republic is experiencing. Our research with various companies, students, and university employees has surprised all of us in realizing the gaping disconnect between demand for jobs from Chinese students abroad and companies with active foreign recruitment channels. After our interview, we head back to the office to assemble notes, debrief, and synthesize our findings.

Bullet train to Hangzhou

Bullet train to Hangzhou

For lunch, we embark on a walk to the local mall that houses an array of local and international food options. Yesterday we sampled a dim sum offering with buckwheat noodles and delicate cuts of chicken. Today we need to eat in a hurry to head back to the office for more research, so we grab a quick bite at Joe’s Pizza, a classic New York pizza establishment that sits aside the local mall. In the afternoon, we must call around ten students and alumni from universities in five different countries. Our room is populated with phones, coffee cups, and computers; after a few hours, we close out our marathon session of phone calls. In addition to research pertinent to our assignment, throughout the process, we have also learned a lot about Chinese traditions, customers, and business practices. During the previous weekend we took a bullet train to Hangzhou, a beautiful old city west of Shanghai that contains a lake surrounded by trees. Escaping the city has allowed us to imbibe the authentic culture and lifestyle of a different part of China. From our first night meeting with our main client contact to our daily interactions with the co-inhabitants of our building, the experience has helped us to step back and become lost in a truly transformational experience that cannot be replicated in any classroom.

Morning of the final presentation

Morning of the final presentation

Around 6pm we depart our client’s office to grab a taste of a different Chinese cuisine, this night being a vegetarian Taiwanese option near the ornate Jing’an Temple. The nebulous cloud of lights, smells, and chatter envelops us as we navigate our way to the restaurant. The food is covered in a generous helping of spices, pepper, and oil. With our food, we must order cold drinks or else we will receive a tepid cup of tea. We reach into our pockets for renminbi, the Chinese currency, to pay, as very few establishments accept credit cards. China has leapfrogged the US in digital payments, and most Shanghai denizens solely pay for everyday objects with WeChat, an extremely popular, all-in-one mobile application created by Tencent. The last stop of the night is a nearby bar popular with locals to wind down from the day and bond as a team. As we step out into the cooling evening air, we see a blue tint emanating from the overpass that greets us every morning as we rise, coming full circle as we rest to meet another day.

 

Team Seedlink- Lives and Learns in Shanghai with Dynamic Clients and Colleagues

Written by Paola Blanco, Nanor Asadorian, Ralph Boyajian, Conor Farese, and Dean Guo

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

Only a week in, and the hustle and bustle of Shanghai is slowly seeping into our lives. We wake up at 8am every morning, and our team breaks into a myriad of mobility tools to get to work. Conor and Paola on the MoBikes – a local bikeshare service. Dean, Ralph, and Nanor grab a Didi – the local equivalent to Uber. We head into the coworking space where our company, Seedlink, is based. Grab coffees, crack open our computers, and turn on the VPNs (even in China, we are never far from gmail). And we get to work. 

Seedlink, our client, is a Human Resources Tech company based here in Shanghai, with offices in Amsterdam as well. They build an artificial intelligence tool that uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand the science of human behavior. In a nutshell, they can use their tool to predict how well incoming job candidates will perform when compared to the talent a company already has in their organization. They have a strong foothold in China and Europe, and are working with IBD to establish their approach to the U.S. market. We have our hands full, to say the least. Our seven weeks in the U.S. prior to travel was jam-packed with interviews and insights, while our time here in China has been primarily about turning those insights into clear suggestions and tactics that the Seedlink team can use immediately.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Our team hard at work, with the Shanghai sunset behind us.

Professionally, this has been a tremendous opportunity for all of us. In our push to build a business strategy, we’ve incorporated bit and pieces from almost every class from our core this year. Marketing lessons have influenced how we think about Seedlink’s value proposition and branding. Strategy frameworks have encouraged us to consider the incumbent response to Seedlink’s entrance. From Problem-Finding Problem-Solving, our Haas design course, we borrowed the Business Model Canvas and the insight session tactics. And of course, we lean on our diverse backgrounds to bring it all together: between the five of us, we cover Operations, Finance, Consulting, Tech and Design. Almost perfectly, our project with Seedlink has called on us to weave the lessons from these courses and experiences together into a carefully crafted plan for our client.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

The Seedlink team on a lunchtime stroll through the Jing’An gardens.

But so much of this experience has also existed beyond the workplace. Our first week here was a huge learning opportunity for all of us. We struggled through the four tones of Mandarin, thankful to our teammate Dean who patiently instructs us (still) each time we stumble. We’ve tried countless food options: Dumpling (x3), Hunan, Yunnan, Hot Pot (x2), Xinjiang, Japanese, Korean… the list goes on and our bellies are full. 

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

A happy Dean, ready for the first soup dumplings of the trip.

The weekends have included a trip to Guilin to see the fabled mountains and Hangzhou for the storied West Lake.

Even today, we’re just back from a weekend on the beautiful Jeju island, one of Korea’s most famous spots. We stuffed ourselves full of Korean BBQ, took a trip through a 7km underground lava tube, climbed the side of the volcano, and hit the town at night to see K-Pop in action.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

The Seedlink and 51Jobs teams take a boat cruise in Hangzhou, China.

Shanghai, in other words, has served us well: we are working in an urban hotspot, and are eager to take advantage of the proximity to beautiful places and of the melting pot of ideas, cuisines, and cultures that happens here.

It should go without saying that this upcoming last week will pass by all-too-quickly. We much more learning in store, and are preparing our final pitch to our client encapsulating the output of 10 weeks of research and energy. And beyond that, we are focused on spending time with each other, and with the other IBD teams in our Shang-Haas family. We know this time is precious, and that this rare moment in our lives – when we can live and learn abroad with dynamic clients and colleagues – will come to an end before we know it.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

The Spring IBD Program is Off and Running….

A lot has happened this past month in the life of the 2018 Spring FTMBA IBD program. On February 1st, we held the first day of Spring IBD class, revealing the names of IBD clients, their projects and country destinations to an excited group of 16 IBD Student Team Leads. The Team Leads then introduced themselves online to their project clients for the first time. Following that, IBD Team Leads and Faculty Mentors collaborated and successfully executed an IBD Team Member draft —  selecting up to four MBA Team Members for each project team.

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

This spring we are partnering with 16 client organizations in 12 different countries, spread across four continents.  Six clients from last year’s spring and summer programs, as well as three organizations from past IBD project years, have returned to work with our IBD FTMBAs on a project this spring. Our 16 Team Leads have certainly hit the ground running with their IBD projects, and they are looking forward to the first day of the full IBD class (March 15th), when incoming IBD Team Members officially join their project teams. 

We asked each of our Team Leads and Faculty Mentors to describe their impressions of their IBD projects, the “Big Reveal” of projects to the students, and what excites them about this stage of the IBD program.  Here is what they had to share:

“I am excited about the European expansion plans of Piri. It is such an ambitious and interesting project, that if it is successful it will have a big impact within YGA. So far it has been a great experience getting to know the team and the unique culture of YGA.” Team Lead Daniel Mombiedro

Catherine, Jocelyn, Daniel and Sara

“My Team Leads are in the throes of work planning and are really getting their arms around the client issues and available information. It’s so great to see them taking charge of the client relationship, and bouncing hypotheses off their client teams. I can tell their clients are excited about it, too. Keep up the good work, everyone!” Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain

“’I’m incredibly excited about both the scope of my project as well as returning to explore Latin America after many years away! Although the amount of work in front of us is daunting, my (TBD) team is amazing and I’m highly confident in our ability to deliver a great set of insights for our client.” Team Lead Colin Dunn

“I only wish I could go on these​ trips with all the students as our clients are doing incredibly important and impactful work in fascinating places.” Faculty Mentor David Evan Harris

Jorge Tellez

Jorge Tellez

“I can’t wait for the Big Reveal tomorrow. I have seen so many IBD students walking around, and I just want to shout with excitement about where they will be going and what cool project they will be on. I’m looking forward to meeting members of my team (some for the first time!) and getting them excited about our work together!” Team Lead

Catherine Soler

“I could not be more excited to be working for Ford in Shanghai this semester. Having accepted an offer to work as a consultant this summer, I’m anxious to begin developing my consulting toolkit during IBD and deliver a great project to our client.  It’s going to be an amazing experience and I’m excited to onboard my team and get things going!” Team Lead James Westhafer

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

“I’m very excited about my project, and I’m thrilled to be leading the first IBD team to work with Majid Al Futtaim

James Westhafer

Holding. I am confident that this project will be the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship between Majid Al Futtaim and Berkeley Haas.” Team Lead Jorge Tellez

“Being a Team Lead is a big responsibility, but I’m comfortable with the great support we have from our Faculty Mentors and the executive coaching program.” Team Lead Melea Atkins

Team Lead Reveal

Team Lead Reveal

“Our Team Leads are fantastic: full of enthusiasm and undaunted by somewhat ambiguous and ambitious client project scopes!” Faculty Mentor Whitney Hischier

 

“I’m excited for the opportunity to develop my team leadership style with a group of all-star MBAs. I also can’t wait to develop a team experience that supports all of our professional and personal development.” Team Lead Michelle Boyd

“I’m really looking forward to the Big Reveal and introducing my team to the Seva Foundation project. My team has a strong and diverse set of healthcare experiences, and I can’t wait to see how we can tackle our project together.” Team Lead Jocelyn Brown

Natalie Bauman

Natalie Bauman

“I originally wanted to a be a Team Lead to push myself outside of my comfort zone and gain experience leading peers. Choosing the team and realizing how impressive and awesome my teammates are has made me even more excited/nervous about the opportunity to be a Team Lead!” Team Lead Natalie Bauman

“I’m excited about the project and client! Working with a repeat client sets a high bar, but also makes it a little easier since the client knows what to expect from a project like IBD. This was one of the top projects last year, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to work with this client.” Team Lead Stan Cataldo

“I continue to be impressed by the talent pool at Berkeley Haas.  It really was an embarrassment of riches that we could draw upon for our IBD teams.” Faculty Mentor Frank Schultz

The IBD program is indeed very fortunate to have these talented MBA Team Leads working with our international clients.  We are looking forward to expanding the energy and talent of this group with an additional 64 MBAs, when we welcome them into the IBD fold on March 1st for the “Big Reveal.”

 

 

IBD’s David Richardson Travels to India and Singapore to Meet with Friends of the IBD Program

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

During the month of October, IBD Director of Business Development David Richardson traveled to India and Singapore to meet with Berkeley-Haas alumni and friends of the IBD program.

David’s travels included a few days in Bangalore, where he met with local alumni gathered together by Aditya Gokarn of Triton Valves Ltd.  He also visited with managers from Lucep, Housejoy, and Hotelogix.

After Bangalore, David flew to Pune, where he met with the management team of ElectroMech Material Handling Systems, and visited their factory floor.  He also paid a visit to Divgi TorqTransfer Systems and Lend-A-Hand India (a local NGO).

Meeting with Freedom English Academy class in New Delhi

Next up was New Delhi, where David met with USAID at the U.S. Embassy, toured a Freedom English Academy classroom, and co-hosted a Berkeley-Haas alumni event along with Abhishek Khemka of Nandini Impex.  The next day included a visit to World Health Partners.

After New Delhi, David traveled to Singapore, where he met with the startups Banff Cyber Technologies and Lucep.  He also met with the Counsellor, Innovation and Trade Affairs, for the Embassy of Finland in Singapore.  

Check out some of David’s India and Singapore trip photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsm4VfjW9

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

 

Team Flowers and Team Samai Present at the 2017 IBD Conference

Team Samai After the PresentationTwo student teams were chosen to present their IBD projects to the audience at the 2017 IBD Conference.  IBD Team Samai was the first to present.  This team was made up of Evening and Weekend MBA students Sushant Barave, Bill Conry, Dan Conti and Joe Layton.

Team Samai worked with a rum distillery in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  While Team Samai had a fun project, the students also talked about the impact they had on the Samai organization, as well as the recommendations they gave their client so they could scale the business “tactically and strategically.”  The student team also focused on making sure their suggestions were actionable once they left and, in fact, Samai was already Samai-presenting-with-power-pointimplementing some of their recommendations before they departed Cambodia.  Team Lead Sushant Barave declared, “I was surprised at how rewarding that feeling can be — that you design something, you recommend something, and the client is taking action on that.  That was the best part of it.”

The second student team to make a Conference presentation on stage was Team Agripacific Holdings, aka Team Flower.  Full-Time MBA students Mary Harty, George Panagiotakopoulos, Laura Smith, Leah Finn and Anne Kramer made up the team.  In order to understand the flower business in Asia, Team Flower traveled across China, visiting flower markets and distributors in Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.

Team Flower 4 of the 5 and flowersTeam Flower member Leah Finn said about the IBD Conference that “it was definitely fun to reflect on our experience in China, and to learn a bit about how it contrasted with the other projects. It helped me appreciate how adventurous and hands-on our IBD experience was.  I think it’s rare to get to experience so many different sides of China in one trip, so I’m grateful that we were able to have that experience as part of the IBD course.”  Team Lead Mary Harty agreed by sharing that “it felt great to share our experiences with the broader IBD community. As we presented, the photos and slides bought back so many fantastic memories for us all!”  To view the photos from the Conference, click here.Team Flower- Presentation for web.jpg

 

 

Team Flowers: A Flower Market Tour of China

Written by Leah Finn, Mary Harty, Anne Kramer, Laura Smith, and George Panagiotakapoulos

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

A hydrangea greenhouse at Kunming Hasfarms

Agripacific Holdings is a holding company that owns a number of cut flower farms and distribution centers across Asia, including its two main growing sites, Kunming Hasfarm in Yunnan, China, and Dalat Hasfarm in Dalat, Vietnam. For our IBD project, our team (a.k.a, Team Flowers) partnered with Kunming Hasfarm (KMH) to develop a marketing strategy for selling cut flower crops throughout China – at the moment, most of KMH’s flowers are exported to Japan, while the domestic market is primarily served through a small scale of imports from Dalat Hasfarms. As Chinese incomes rise, a growing middle class is spending more money on luxury home products like flowers, creating a promising market. KMH tasked our team with helping them strategically scale their domestic sales of cut flowers by considering the optimal target customers and sales channels.

For our in-country visit, KMH planned an itinerary that would give us a thorough look at the flower industry in China by visiting six cities – Kunming, Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong – to tour flower markets, interview wholesaler customers, and even visit the farms of several of their competitors. Luckily for us, this meant we got to experience a diverse range of Chinese cultures, food, and sights as we learned about some of the nuances of each local market.

We began the trip in Kunming, a small (by China standards) city of 6 million in the western Yunnan province. We spent two days touring KMH’s greenhouses and learning about the processes of growing carnations, green wicky (a fuzzy green flower described to us as “soft, like a panda’s face), and hydrangeas. We also visited the Dounnan Flower Market, one of the largest flower wholesaler markets in China. The coolest part about this was the flower auction: an enormous warehouse full of lower-quality flowers (mostly roses) and a huge room to the side where wholesalers gathered to bid on them, Dutch auction style while smoking heavily and doing business on cell phones. It was quite a sight!

Flower auction in Kunming

In Beijing, Shanghai, Hungzhou, and Guangzhou, we visited KMH’s largest wholesaler customers and the Shanghai-based distribution center for the import business. Through our many interviews, we learned that KMH has a strong reputation as a high-quality grower; most of their wholesaler customers would buy more flowers from them if not restricted by supply. Since the China-based farm already had plans to expand growing, we saw an opportunity to organize their Shanghai- and Beijing-based sales teams to begin selling domestic product in those regions, rather than solely managing the import business.

Another powerful opportunity we recognized for KMH is the meteoric rise of e-commerce that has taken place in the past few years, impacting all industries. In many ways, China has surpassed the US in its use of technology in commerce: for example, rather than credit cards, nearly everyone pays for things by scanning a QR code on the item with an app on their phone called WeChat. In the flower industry, many startups have innovated by offering weekly flower delivery services through a subscription model, and several wholesalers have shifted all of their operations online. We had the chance to interview several contacts from these companies to learn about their innovative models. A key question we investigated for KMH was how they could incorporate technology into their business model, and how far down the value chain they should reach to implement it – that is, whether to switch from B2B (selling to wholesalers) to B2C.

Team looking over Beijing with 2 of KMH’s staff acting as our tour guides

The trip concluded with a trip to Hong Kong, where we delivered our final presentation at Hasfarm’s office there. In addition to recommendations about reorganizing their sales force and adopting a technology platform to track customer data, we discussed the trend we observed of new flower companies, particularly in the eCommerce model, shortening the value chain (typically grower to wholesaler to retailer to customer) to increase margins and lower prices beyond the offerings of their more traditional competitors. We encouraged KMH to pay attention to competitors adopting this model as the market grows.

Overall, we were incredibly impressed by the hospitality provided to us by our clients and associates in the industry. After nearly every interview or market visit, we were taken to an elaborate meal, treated to a tea ceremony, or toured around sights like Tianenmen Square by members of the KMH staff or their wholesaler clients. We feel lucky that this experience introduced us to the warmth, beauty, and diversity of China.

Updates from IBD Shanghai – ARM Accelerator

Written by Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller

FTMBA students Harsh Thusu, Jennifer Hoss, Justin Wedell, Chris Roberts, and Amanda Eller traveled to Shanghai, China during summer 2017 to work with ARM Accelerator.

IBD team in the ARM Accelerator Shanghai office

The Internet of Things (IoT) involves embedding objects in our surroundings with sensors, which capture data and make decisions without the need for human intervention. IoT is poised to change the world, and our client, ARM, is playing a major role in the IoT revolution. ARM is a multinational semiconductor company that designs architecture for the chips that power our smartphones and tablets. Over the next 20 years, ARM expects to deliver 1 trillion chips for IoT devices.

Two years ago, ARM China launched the ARM Accelerator to support IoT startups. Our five-person IBD team traveled to Shanghai to work with ARM Accelerator, helping them develop a strategy to attract Silicon Valley startups, and crafting a plan to diversify their revenue sources.

Initial Research: Bringing Silicon Valley to China

IBD team members Jen, Harsh, and Chris presenting our recommendations to ARM leadership

Our initial challenge was to advise ARM Accelerator on a strategy for attracting U.S. startups. We hypothesized that U.S.-based startups would not want to travel to China for the program, and anticipated recommending a Silicon Valley office. To test our hypothesis, we spoke with founders from 12 different IoT startups in the U.C. Berkeley ecosystem.

We were surprised to learn that virtually all of the founders had either already spent time in China, or anticipated going in the near future. The primary reason for Chinese travel was to connect with manufacturers, but several startups were also interested in meeting Chinese investors and customers.

IBD students with ARM Accelerator leadership, including Allan Wu (center), President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘96

We also discovered that most startups learn about accelerators through their networks. The ARM brand is strong, but few startups had heard of ARM’s accelerator, underscoring the need for business development efforts and localized marketing content in Silicon Valley.

Evaluating the Accelerator Business Model

In the weeks leading up to our trip, we expanded our focus. At two years old, ARM Accelerator is still a startup, and they wanted insights into how other accelerators achieve financial sustainability. We analyzed successful accelerators from around the world, and compiled preliminary recommendations to test in-country.

IBD team member Jen Hoss at the TechCode Shanghai Accelerator, testing an Augmented Reality windshield

 

Day of Arrival

On May 12, we flew to Shanghai. None of us had ever visited mainland China, and we were eager to meet the ARM Accelerator team and learn more about the Chinese startup ecosystem.

ARM Accelerator founder Andy Chen and head engineer Shi Lei gave us a warm welcome, and briefed us on an itinerary packed with interviews. Over the following days, we met with ARM Accelerator graduates, venture capital investors, other accelerators, and the local government. We even attended a presentation in which ARM Accelerator companies pitched their autonomous vehicle technologies to representatives from BMW.

IBD team members from left to right, Jen Hoss, Justin Wedell, Amanda Eller, Chris Roberts, and Harsh Thusu, meeting with bike-sharing startup MoBike.

Interview Highlights: TechCode, Shanghai government, and MoBike

TechCode is an accelerator and incubator started in China, with locations all over the world. Daphne Han provided insights into the benefits of the accelerator for TechCode’s corporate sponsor. She also gave us a tour of their co-working office space, and IBD team member Jen got to test a TechCode company’s “Smart Windshield,” which uses Augmented Reality to provide real-time information to drivers.

Another highlight was our meeting with Zhang Lan from the Shanghai government’s Development and Reform Committee. Mr. Lan shared fascinating insights about the government’s role in supporting entrepreneurship, and the incentives available to ARM Accelerator companies.

Mr. Lan then brought us to the MoBike headquarters. MoBike is a bike sharing startup that has taken

IBD team at the MoBike Shanghai office, with Shanghai government official Mr. Zhang Lan and our ARM colleague Allan Zhong

China by storm, with support from the government. 25 years ago, Shanghai was full of bicycles, but their replacement with motorcycles and cars has exacerbated pollution. MoBike is reversing the trend, and we were impressed by the number of Chinese taking advantage of MoBike. MoBikes can be parked anywhere, and locked or unlocked with a smartphone app; each morning the bikes pile up in front of office buildings, and by evening rows of MoBikes surround the metro stations.

Our ARM Accelerator hosts took us for a traditional Chinese business dinner, which meant plenty of baiju, or Chinese spirits

Eating our way across China

The team made the most of our free time by trying every dumpling we could find. We learned about the art of handpulled noodles, sampled Uigher-style barbecue, and tasted Schizuan Province’s spicy mala peppercorns.  We even contemplated opening a Berkeley franchise of China’s popular Yang’s Dumplings chain.

Between meals, we climbed the Great Wall, explored Beijing’s Forbidden City, and hiked the mountains surrounding Hangzhou’s famous West Lake.

And throughout our trip, we were greeted by local Haasies. Alan Wu, President of ARM China and Haas MBA ‘97 provided valuable feedback throughout our project and shared his visions for China’s technological future.

Making new friends over a Beijing-style hotpot dinner

And the Haas Shanghai Alumni group welcomed us with a happy hour, where we met two incoming classmates to the class of 2019.

After a successful three weeks in China, we are excited to continue following ARM Accelerator’s progress as they help build companies shaping the future of IoT.

Phnomenal Times

Written by Sushant Barave, William Conry, Daniel Conti and Joe Layton

For our IBD project, we’re working with Cambodia’s first and only rum distillery, Samai, based in Phnom Penh. Our team is partnering with Samai’s founders, Antonio and Daniel, on expansion strategy, new market pricing, operational improvement and accounting guidance.

Prior to arriving in Phnom Penh we had been corresponding with Samai to finalize the scope of the project and complete as much pre-work as possible. While our team was productive across those six weeks, it was remarkable how much more effective we became on location with the client. For instance, we had an idea of what the rum production process looked like, however being able to visualize the steps enhanced our understanding to the level required to make recommendations.  Additionally, speaking face to face with Daniel, Antonio and Champich, the master distiller, we were able to have more insightful conversations and gain a better feel for the business and its needs.

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Dan and Sushant review the production steps with Daniel in order to calculate COGS

Another byproduct of live meetings is shifting priorities. While the project work streams had been determined in advance of our arrival, it became clear our first-day additional challenges that require support will surface. Our team recognized the importance of prioritization as a guiding principle – we need to invest our time and resources into the projects that are most vital to Samai and also ensure our deliverables are actionable.

 

Cocktail Competition

Samai’s distillery is open to the public on Thursday nights, when it serves up Samai rum-based cocktails to a lively, mostly expat, clientele. During our required rum tasting our first day on the job I suggested –  somewhat jokingly –  that we have a competition on Thursday to determine which Haas team member can create the best cocktail. Antonio sounded intrigued and within a day we had teams decided, menus set, ingredients purchased and a professional flyer posted on social media. That escalated quickly!

Dan and I settled on a variation of a Dark and Stormy entitled Ann’s Arbor, an homage to our undergraduate institution. Leveraging Joe’s advanced rum knowledge, he and Sushant crafted a more complex, boozy concoction, a Queens Park Swizzle.

We met at the distillery early to pour practice drinks and tweak the recipes until we had it right. This was not just a fun experiment; patrons would be paying for these cocktails! Once we had the proportions, preparations, and presentations down, it was game time.

It could have been the Berkeley-Haas name on the flyer, perhaps it was the sophisticated drink selection or maybe it was our rugged good looks and charm behind the back bar, but the orders flowed in like Trump tweets after a New York Times bombshell report.

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

Bill and Joe try to keep up with demand behind the bar

At a few points we couldn’t keep up with the demand – we were forced to act like seasoned bartenders who knew how to accommodate a packed bar.

For the competition piece, believe it or not, according to the official tally the contest ended in a tie! The Ann’s Arbor team will point out that our drink had a higher volume of orders, which should be the tie breaker. The Queen Park Swizzle duo will remind us that more orders led to more misinformed votes from those who only sampled one beverage.

Regardless of who deserves the crown, overall the cocktail competition was a win. We learned useful skills that aren’t often taught in the classroom, had fun, brought in incremental sales for Samai and met some interesting people.

After shaking and stirring as celebrity bartenders for the night, it was back to our real lives Excel modeling and PowerPoint-ing as consultants at the Samai office the next morning. It was fun while it lasted, but there’s still work to do!

Back to work

Back to work