Updates from the IBD – Team Tekes in Finland

Berkeley-Haas Full Time students Lauren Elstein, Javier Gunther, Natalie Osterweil, Mitch Plueger, and Matt Shelton are working on an IBD project with Tekes in Finland.

The team learns about Finnish culture through a “Who are the Finns” presentation

The team learns about Finnish culture through a “Who are the Finns” presentation

Who are the Finns?

Considering how familiar we generally are with European countries, upon our arrival we quickly realized that we knew very little about the most eastern of the Nordic countries. Relegated to the far North and in the cross section of east and west, Finland’s geography and history have formulated a unique culture that none of us had imagined.

About a week into our trip, our IBD group found ourselves sitting in a semi-circle of

The team stand atop one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki, with a beautiful view of the Baltic

The team stand atop one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki, with a beautiful view of the Baltic

reclining chairs in one of the most popular saunas in Helsinki. Because of a family-friend connection, and good ole fashioned Finnish hospitality, we had the privilege of hearing a “Who are the Finns?” presentation from a former Fulbright director, who shared his insights with each incoming Fulbright Scholar group. His perspective, information, and storytelling conveyed a culture of survival, simplicity, isolation, yet fortitude. Sharing the longest border with Russia, and having been previously conquered by the Swedes, all while living on the periphery of Europe in one of the coldest climates in the world has not been easy for the Finns. It has created a culture of steadfastness, intelligence, but humility. The buildings are not fancy. Wealth is not on display. The people are not overly friendly or boisterous. However, the Finns are kind, smart (free education!), and resourceful. They think long term, are loyal to each other and their resources and are quick to welcome a group of foreign students working in Helsinki for a few weeks.

The team stands with the founders of Paptic, a startup seeking to replace plastic bags with a more environmentally friendly one

The team stands with the founders of Paptic, a startup seeking to replace plastic bags with a more environmentally friendly one

So, what were we doing there?

What was quite fascinating to us was seeing how this background provided a whole new context for understanding our clients. Our primary client, Tekes, is a Finnish innovation funding agency—it grants money to, and invests in, startups and R&D to create innovative Finnish businesses and help them scale their innovations to the world stage. Tekes selected three startups in particular for us to work with during the semester—they each had different projects for us, but all were working on scaling their innovations beyond the Finnish borders. We quickly observed a very common scenario: a brilliant Finnish scientist discovers a new innovation. He or she patents it, earns a grant or initial investment for lab testing and maybe a pilot but then is a bit stuck. It’s hard to receive the next level of funding without proving the ability to scale. But how do you prove the ability to scale without the funding to do so? Furthermore, how does a very technical scientist or engineer convey the business case or importance of the product in a way where investors can see the potential and long-term strategy? This is even more challenging in a culture where it is not common to put yourself out there and explain why your solution is the best and deserving of a partnership, resource, or investment.

Visiting Metgen’s pilot plant, which is creating enzymes to save manufacturers on energy use and costs

Visiting Metgen’s pilot plant, which is creating enzymes to save manufacturers on energy use and costs

These are questions we sought to tackle with our clients: one which has figured out how to extract nanocellulose from agricultural side streams (which is a first!), one which uses wood-based fibers to create a replacement of plastic and cotton bags, but which is sturdier and more durable than regular paper bags, and one which tailors enzymes to reduce energy use and cost for major processing plants, such as paper mills. Sound complicated? We thought so, too. But after talking to many experts, doing immense amounts of research, and learning more about the companies themselves, we identified many synergies and trends between them. We focused on helping them find applications for their innovations, building a business model that invites investment and creates long term sustainability, and strategizing entrances into international markets.  Along the way, we also had the privilege of visiting some of the pilot plants, learning about the production process and what makes the innovation so revolutionary, and experiencing some of the prototypes and early products.

Witnessing how clothing fibers can be broken down, cleaned, and recycled for use in brand now clothing and textiles

Witnessing how clothing fibers can be broken
down, cleaned, and recycled for use in brand now clothing and textiles

Green Gold

While Tekes supports many aspects of innovation across industries, it heavily invests in arguably one of the most ‘Finnish’—the bioeconomy. In case that’s a new term (it was to us), bioeconomy means an economy that utilizes biological natural resources to create products, food, energy, and services. It generally focuses on the long-term viability of natural resources and biodiversity, reduces dependency on fossil fuels and synthetic materials, and promotes economic development and sustainable job creation. With 80% of its land is covered by forests, Finland has become a pioneer in the industry, which has created wealth and sustainable economic development for the prosperous country. This is largely attributed to their ability to maximize the

The team visits Aalto University’s Bioproducts Center, where graduate students create new innovative discoveries of tuning biomass into products and applications

The team visits Aalto University’s Bioproducts Center, where graduate students create new innovative discoveries of turning biomass into products and applications

utilization of their natural resources in sustainable, wise ways. For example, the average US paper mill self-produces only 56% of its energy, while the average Finnish mill is over 100%. They actually create more energy than they need, as a result of their focus on resource efficiency and innovation.

Javier inspects the biodegradable ‘biokini,’ made of nanocellulose

Javier inspects the biodegradable ‘biokini,’ made of nanocellulose

This mentality is what drives many of the entrepreneurs in Finland. In addition to our three startup clients, we also had the opportunity to visit and learn from an entrepreneur who takes used clothing, breaks it down, and then is able to make brand new material from it. We met another who figured out how to make cosmetic containers, which feel and function like plastic, but which are made 100% of wood-based material. These environmentally-focused innovators are using cutting edge technology to create large scale and sustainable change in the marketplace—and for these last few months, we had the privilege of being a part of it.

 

We had the opportunity to meet with the founder of Sulapac, a thriving new startup that makes cosmetic containers out of wood-based materials

We had the opportunity to meet with the founder of Sulapac, a thriving new startup that makes cosmetic containers out of wood-based materials

And in our spare time…

After a steep climb up, the team (with Javier’s wife, Carolina) were rewarded with a gorgeous view over Old Town Tallinn

After a steep climb up, the team (with Javier’s wife, Carolina) were rewarded with a gorgeous view over Old Town Tallinn

In case you’re concerned that we didn’t actually get to have a little fun, rest assured, we had plenty of play time. In our first weekend, we took a ferry over to Tallinn, Estonia, to visit the old and beautiful city for the weekend. From another fortuitous family-friend connection, we had the immense privilege of being taken to dinner by the Undersecretary to the Foreign Minister of Estonia, who also gave us all a history, geography, and cultural lesson on the Estonian people as well.

 

A memorable experience

When we arrived in Finland, most of us could not have told you the difference between it and its long, northern, Scandinavian neighbors. But we have learned to appreciate the understated and unassuming country—one that knows a thing or two about survival, protecting its people and its future, and perhaps most importantly, how to stay hot in those icy cold winters.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All Around the World; IBD Teams In-Country

Written by:  Danner Doud-Martin, Assistant Director, Operations for the IBD Program

When I introduced myself to the Full-Time MBAs on their first day of class for the Spring IBD program, I told them I wanted to either be the sixth member of their team or be stowed in their suitcases.  There wasn’t a team I didn’t want to join as all 16 were going to work with great clients, on impactful projects, and in amazing destinations.  Now that our IBD students are scattered all over the world and sending photos and updates from their first weeks in-country, I am of course envious, but also proud to be a part of a program like IBD.  I am living vicariously through our Haas students as they have experiences that perhaps will change their lives, or at least make these next three weeks incredibly exciting.   

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Team YGA having breakfast on Bosphorus river

Teams tell us that they have been welcomed by their clients and the other members of the organizations with warmth, appreciation, and support.  They have enjoyed delicious local cuisine, been invited to people’s homes and seen the local sites.  They have toured crane factories, hospitals, warehouses, and flower markets.  Teams have scrubbed up and witnessed eye surgeries in Peru, been included in their client’s internal pitch meetings in Shanghai, and invited to lunch by the Prime Minister of Uganda.  They have been featured on local Turkish television and have conducted 3-hour design workshops for university students in Uganda.   

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Team Seva before going into to witness a surgery in Peru

Importantly, they have learned more about their client’s needs: “One interesting thing that we have realised in our first 2 days is how much more we know of the business and the internal politics behind our client by just being here; which is something not very clear when you are sitting that far away,” shared one Team Lead.  There is an opportunity now to “fill in our gaps in knowledge through the interviews, market visits, and retail store visits we have scheduled over the next several weeks. We look forward to the rest of the trip!” shared the Agripacific Team.  IBD Teams also feel more connection to the client’s objective and how important the project outcome is to their client.   “It is most exciting to be on the ground here and feel the immensity and importance of the work that our client does,”  shared Blakey Larson, IBD Team Lead for Civil Right Defenders.  IBD teams also see where and how they can add value.  Team Lead, Harsh Thusu said of his project, “we are most excited about helping the accelerator in this interesting journey as they are at a crucial stage of their operations and our recommendations could bring great value to them to tap into the US market with a sustainable business model.”

Team ElectroMech Team ElectroMech with crane

Team ElectroMech

On their first day in-country, IBD Teams gave a day-of-arrival presentation, updating their clients on their findings to date and outlining their 3-week work plan leading up to their final presentations.  Teams felt good about their presentations and expressed how “engaged their clients were.”  They appreciated the collaboration, feedback, and lively discussions.  Carolyn Chuong, Team Lead for Team Makerere said that their clients were “very enthusiastic and also helped us refine our Theory of Change for the Center and think through private sector needs.”

Client’s have already shared accolades about their Haas IBD team members.  Khamisi Masanje, from Makerere University, said:

“This team is exceptional. They are very innovative, articulate, friendly and professional. The team has the right blend of skills because everyone is so good at what he or she does while at the same time, everyone is working as a team. The testimony from our Makerere students, who attended today’s design workshop led by the IBD Team, were so amusing.  I like the natural blend they are having with our students, staff and the general population of Makerere.  We shall surely miss our Haas students when they leave”.

YGA’s Sezin AYDIN said of Team Lead Chelsea Harris’s performance at their press conference, “Chelsea has done a great job, you

Team Ananda

can see how clearly she conveyed her messages, in a calm yet positively energizing way.  We are very happy that we had a chance to offer this kind of experience to our team and very glad that we represented YGA & Berkeley and the mission we serve together in science center project the most beautiful way possible”.

My favorite compliment was from Makerere’s Charles Baguma who said, “I think we got a high-flying team from Berkeley”.  In my opinion, Mr. Baguma’s comment resonates with me because Team Makerere and all of the other 15 Full-Time IBD teams are exceptional.  Based on their photos and comments, all the teams feel they are flying high right now.  Is it because of the incredible opportunity to work internationally on a consulting project? Is it because of the impact that our students are making on the company and the region or the bonds that are being formed between team members as they share this incredible journey? Is it the beautiful places they are visiting and the culture that they are experiencing? It is all of the above and more!  

You can enjoy their adventures by friending us on Facebook at bit.ly/facebookibd.  Each week we will post a blog written by each IBD team highlighting their experiences, and our first one written by Team Makerere can be found here.   You can also subscribe to our blog by going to bit.ly/ibdblog.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Young Guru Academy (YGA) Partners with IBD for a Brighter Future

“IBD was the best experience I had at Haas.”  One of the reasons we repeatedly hear this sentiment from our Berkeley-Haas alumni is because of the client/student project dynamic.  The IBD experience goes beyond the classroom and intersects with real life.  For 24 years IBD clients have looked to the MBA’s in our IBD program to solve concrete challenges for their organizations.  They have invested their time, resources and trust in our IBD consulting teams.

One of our exceptional spring 2017 IBD client organizations is known as Young Guru Academy or YGA.  YGA is a non-profit organization founded in Turkey in 2000 with the mission of cultivating selfless leaders to realize the dream of a brighter future for younger generations.  YGA students volunteer over 3,000 hours of their time working in teams on social innovation projects.  The organization focuses on three fields of innovation – science, orphans, and the visually impaired – and develops innovations that impact the lives of many in these areas.

We asked Sezin Aydin, YGA’s Director of International Affairs, to answer some questions about YGA and the IBD experience to date.

IBD: What made you decide to participate in the IBD program?

YGA:  Over the years, we have experienced that the essence of a fruitful partnership is one of shared values and meaning. Once we saw that (Berkeley-Haas and YGA) both value field study and we both find the development of a student imagining a better world to be meaningful, our passion in participating in the IBD program grew.

 

IBD:  What do you hope to accomplish from your IBD experience?

YGA:  The field we chose to collaborate with IBD Students is YGA’s project on the advancement of science among youth.  The IBD team is specifically working on developing sustainable marketing and financial strategy for all three parts of the science project- the launch of a Science Museum to inspire youth and adults with attractive, inspiring and thought-provoking content, production of a Live Science Show, which will be broadcasted on CNNTurk; and the distribution of Science Kits which has been designed by YGA graduates and funded through crowdsourcing.

What strongly unites the IBD team and YGA in this project is the shared dream of children becoming more curious and enthusiastic about science. YGA brings years of experience of working with students from age 10 to 22, visually impaired students, orphans and recently, refugees, as well as knowledge of local opportunities, obstacles, and challenges. The IBD students, on the other hand, bring a global perspective as each team member comes from a different background and knowledge of best management practices.

IBD: How has the IBD experience been to date?

YGA Visits Berkeley-Haas

YGA: It has already been an amazing experience. Even before YGA was selected to participate in IBD program, we always felt we are on the same team. We are aware of the approach most international universities adopt for programs in Turkey nowadays. There are not enough words to explain our gratitude to Prof. Kristiana Raube for the support she has provided to YGA. We very much appreciate her confidence in us, and we will strive to make this meaningful collaboration work in the best way possible.

IBD: Have you enjoyed working with your Team Lead, Faculty Mentor, and newly formed Team Members?

YGA:   Prof. Kristi said in our last meeting, “We feel like we are old friends now.”  This is exactly how we feel about each other.  Team Lead Chelsea Harris and Prof. Kristiana Raube devote many hours each week and have brought valuable resources to the YGA Science Project.  Our team members, Amol Borcar, Mariana Martinez-Alarcon, Annie Porter and Jeanne Godleski, have impressive backgrounds from diverse fields.  Their combined strength is a valuable resource for this project.

Berkeley’s culture is very close to YGA’s culture.  We believe in the essence of Berkeley Culture’s 4 pillars, just, we have them in different words. We believe in questioning the status quo: we say “Positive Challenge” to do things in a better way.  We believe in confidence without attitude: we say “Selfless Confidence.”  We believe in the unlimited potential we possess: we say “Best Today, Better Tomorrow.”  And we always believe in students: we say “Our main project is people project.”

IBD: Are you excited for any part of the process that is coming in the future?

YGA:  Next week, our team will present a benchmark analysis of world-class science museums, their key performance indicators (KPIs) and examples of some of the best practices. The most exciting part will be their final presentation which they will be delivering to a very high executive level audience- the advisory board of the Science Museum. As challenging as it may be, we have no doubt it will also be a broad experience for them.

IBD: What are you most excited to share with your team when they arrive in Istanbul?

YGA: Most importantly, we would like to share the YGA culture. We already consider them YGA students, like ourselves. We would like to share our challenges and what we have learned from them.  A special trip to Trabzon-Tonya, a north city by the Black Sea, is planned which includes science workshops with primary school students.  

There will be two notable events which will take place during our teams’ in-country visit: Great Place to Work Awards Ceremonyin which YGA will be awarded a Great Place to Work in Turkey for the second time; and the YGA Annual Advisory Board Dinner in which YGA will announce its new entrepreneurship model.  

Finally, İstanbul is one of the most glamourous cities in the world.  We will enjoy the most beautiful views of this city throughout the program. Of course, Turkish cuisine is an inseparable part of the program, so we advise our team to start exercising in advance to make room for delicious food!
The IBD Team leaves for Istanbul on May 13th to experience all that YGA has planned for them during their three weeks in-country.  We look forward to hearing from the IBD Team about their experience.  Please check back over the summer as we will feature blogs written by our student teams.  We leave you with the last thought from Chelsea Harris, the IBD Team Lead, about how she feels about the partnership with YGA.

IBD Teams United – The 2017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal”

017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal” Day

Finally, the wait is over!

The Spring 2017 IBD program Team Leads, faculty, and staff don’t have to stay quiet any longer.  The IBD “Big Reveal” event took place on March 2nd when each Team Lead welcomed their respective Team Members with a short two-minute video on their client, their industry, and their overview on what the team has been tasked to solve.  Team Leads also included information about their project destination and what they might experience while living and working for three weeks in-country.  Finally, Team Leads presented their four new Team Members with a small gift that represented something about their project country or client.

Said one Team Member of the experience, “The IBD reveal day was a lot of fun. (Team) Leads did a great job staying silent until the day of so it remained a mystery, which I loved. The videos were hilarious and all of the gifts were so thoughtful.”

Team Tekes has hugs all around

Clapping, hugs and handshakes were exchanged after each IBD team was revealed.  

Another incoming IBD Team Member commented that “I loved seeing all of the fun videos and learning about all of the projects!  The local country specific gifts for team members made the reveal especially tailored and fun.  I was so excited to find out that I’d be spending my summer in Thailand, with a great group of people, working in a new industry.  It is sure to be a fun experience and I look forward to being challenged personally and professionally along the way.”

Team ARM meeting for the first time

Once the IBD project “Big Reveal” was concluded, it was time to get the newly formed groups working on a team building exercise called the Viking Attack – a longstanding IBD tradition.   Building successful team dynamics is one of the main goals of the IBD course; IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube often describes IBD as “teamwork on steroids.”  Although there are many courses at Berkeley-Haas in which MBA students work in teams, there isn’t one quite like IBD in which students end up spending three weeks together outside the US working on a consulting engagement.  As Kristi Raube put it, “we really emphasize teamwork, as students will need to rely on each other in-country.  International work is all about being flexible and being able to handle unpredictable and difficult situations.”  

YGA Team Lead giving her new Team Members yummy baklava

Over the next seven weeks leading up to the departure to their respective project countries, IBD teams will work to gather more insights from their clients, conduct extensive research, and tackle the problems they have been tasked to solve.  At the same time, Kristi Raube and the IBD Faculty Mentors will work with the students on IBD course goals like developing consulting skills and techniques, communication and storytelling skills, and understanding cultural dynamics.   As Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain observed at this point in the course, “My teams are excited, revved up, and they know what they are doing.”  

Team G-Hub

Tune in next month when we check back with the IBD teams on their progress, and we learn how ready they are to head out on their international adventures.  

To see all the photos from the Spring 2017 IBD Program “Big Reveal”, click here.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByYfWhxK5s7RUzJQX1BULU11VFk

Team ElectroMech

 

2017 Full-Time IBD Clients

If you have been following our IBD newsletter over the last few months, you may have noticed that we have shared a lot of information about the IBD course, the processes we go through to select IBD Team Leads, and how we assign Team Members to projects.  So far we have introduced you to our talented IBD Team Leads and two of our IBD Faculty Mentors.  We are very proud of the IBD course, including our hard-working MBA faculty and students and what they bring to the program, but we haven’t yet shared with you information about one of the most important aspects of the IBD program: our clients.  Without our valuable clients, the IBD course and the opportunities it affords to Berkeley-Haas MBA students wouldn’t exist.

The first IBD program took place in 1992 with 15 participating MBA students.  Since then IBD has worked with over 450 clients in 89 countries.  Clients are introduced to IBD through a myriad of channels.  IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube and Director of Business Development David Richardson spend countless hours talking with prospective IBD clients and traveling to far-flung destinations to pitch the IBD experience.  Berkeley-Haas and UC Berkeley alumni are also a huge part of the process of IBD project development.  They act as local ambassadors for our work, helping IBD staff develop and refine a variety of challenging consulting projects worldwide.

Over the many years of its existence, the IBD program has partnered with governments, NGOs, 
nonprofits, social enterprises, entrepreneurs, and companies of all sizes and industries.  This year, for example, the Spring 2017 IBD program includes eleven for-profit clients and five nonprofit clients in eleven different industries.  To conclude work on their respective IBD projects, our MBA students will end up traveling to Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America.

We are currently partnering with three returning clients from the Spring 2016 IBD program.  Nine of our Spring 2017 IBD projects boast a valuable Berkeley-Haas or UC Berkeley alumni connection; four of these have an alum currently working in the organization.  No matter how this year’s 16 remarkable client organizations came to be a part of the Spring 2017 IBD course, we are honored and grateful to work with all of them.

Updates from IBD London

FTMBA students Songwoo Kang, David Liang, Akira Matsuzawa, Lev Pogosov and Karl Brenner Román are currently in London, England, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project with IMImobile.

Our team was focused on the task at hand and listening intently to every word being spoken to us by the subject matter expert. This was the moment we had been waiting for and were making sure we were fully prepared before making our opinion known. Finally came the moment of truth as we finally sampled the expensive product in front of us.

“Wow, this whisky is amazing.”

And that is the story of how we tasted a 35-year-old whisky (older than any of us!) valued at £500 per bottle.

IMI_1

Selection of Scotch whisky that we sampled.

Let me back up. Prior to beginning our project in London, our team spent 4 nights exploring all that neighboring Scotland had to offer. We started in the city of Edinburgh and road tripped through the northern Scottish Highlands. We even spent a few hours observing intently for any activity at Loch Ness.

IMI_2

Enjoying a lakeside dram of whisky in the Scottish Highlands on a rare sunny day.

IMI_3

Team photo in front of Dunnottar Castle on the east coast of Scotland.

Meet IMImobile

IMI_4

Sadly, our team of Berkeley Haas MBA students wasn’t asked to travel to Europe to simply enjoy the sites and sample Scotch whisky. We also had the important task of helping our client, IMImobile, develop go-to-market strategies for two industry verticals.

IMImobile is a company with a history in technology and began as a business for developing structural engineering software for the design of telco and power transmission towers. It was originally founded in 1997 as Information Management India Software (IMISoft). In the mid 2000s, IMImobile aggressively expanded its businesses and made several acquisitions, backed by prominent VCs such as Sequoia and Firstmark. Today, IMImobile is continuing to expand and has been listed on the UK stock market as of 2014.

IMI_5

Our IBD team discussing the best way for IMImobile to enter a new vertical in a breakout meeting.

A day in the life at IMImobile was similar to a typical 9-6 job. The company had an open seating set up similar to a Silicon Valley start-up minus the severe lack of Apple products. Fortunately, we were seated right next to sales & marketing and product teams so we were able to set up meetings with key stakeholders fairly easily.

Our work consisted of working closely with stakeholders and account managers on the front lines to build out use cases they could implement in their sales pitches. We conducted almost a dozen internal as well as external interviews, targeted our newly forming Haas Alumni network to find connections in the travel industry, and leveraged the extensive Haas business library resources to gain a deep understanding of the market. Songwoo also championed us to victory with Bain & Co. inspired slides complete with Harvey balls, 2×2 matrices and “low hanging fruit.”

IMI_6

Hard at Work in the office.

IMI_7

Hard at work at a company social on a rare sunny day in London.

Exploring London

We couldn’t live in London without exploring the local sites and customs. During our evenings after work, we immersed ourselves into the London culture by enjoying the pub culture, museums, and even catching a play from ‘ol Billy Shakes’. Another thing that can’t be missed is the local cuisine. The UK often gets a bad reputation for food, but we thoroughly enjoyed our meals of fish & chips, bangers & mash, meat pies, and late night doner kebabs.

IMI_8

Soaking in some culture by watching ‘Taming of the Shrew’ at the Globe Theatre.

IMI_9

There was a very steep learning curve at the client, but no hurdle was too high to climb

IMI_10

While visiting Stonehenge, we took time to appreciate the sights and observe the local wildlife

ImiMobile

Making friends with the locals was a high priority. Some bonds will never be broken.

Our Takeaways

At the end of the day, this trip was about delivering quality advice to our client. We spent countless hours researching, presenting our drafts to the stakeholders and pivoting our findings in order to provide them with the highest value deliverable this side of the Mississippi. On our last day at the client, we delivered two presentations for the client’s management. Both of the meetings were attended by the CEO with our proposed journeys and go-to-market strategies being very well received. One of our team members even received a soft internship offer for the summer.

We all entered the project with hopes of learning how to become better consultants, to improve our presentation skills, and gain experience working internationally. What surprised us the most was how different working styles were for a culture that is so similar to ours. In our short time, we gained a solid understanding of the multi-channel mobile communications industry, immersed ourselves in UK (and Indian) culture, and made some great friends and connections with the IMImobile team from both London and Hyderabad!

IMI_11

The team presented our project counterpart  and Haas alum, Sudarshan Dharmapuri, with his very own Haas flag that we can proudly fly on his boat. (Boat purchase pending)

IMI_12

Team giving the final presentation to the IMImobile leadership.

IMI_13

We even coordinated our outfits for the final presentation to achieve perfect synergy and symmetry with the client.

 

Hallo Jumbo! The Future of Dutch Supermarkets

FTMBA students Shipra Agarwal, Scarlett Li, Joan Mao, Shantanu Mittal, and Matt Mueller traveled to Veghel, Netherlands, to work on an International Business Development (IBD) project.

We have had a fantastic time so far on our trip to the Netherlands for IBD. On our first weekend in country, we met up with 30 other Haasies who were in Amsterdam for a course on Design Thinking. It was also the birthday of one of our Dutch classmates. Needless to say, we had a really fantastic amount of fun.

Amsterdam Canal Tour copy

Our Project

Due to our client’s NDA, I can’t share much of the details of our project. What we can share is that we are working on a long-term strategic proposal related to how they best serve their customers. The work experience so far has been very informative. During our first week, we visited more than 20 grocery stores to observe key differences with the US market and interviewed a large set of customers on their habits and motivations. We were really surprised by the number of differences in something so simple as grocery shopping and how much a solution would need to be tailored to each individual market.

Team Jumbo at a Supermarket copy.png

In addition to our visits and interviews, we have met with a number of key stakeholders in our project across the company. Everyone has been nice and genuinely interested in learning what we are working on, and how they can help. It has been great to have the support needed to deliver on our project and provide real value to the client.

Outside Jumbo headquarters copy.png

Finally, we had the chance to lead multiple consumer focus groups to test out proposals. It was a great experience to interview and lead a discussion for a large group of Dutch consumers. We also received valuable feedback on our work and got a new perspective on how our ideas stand up to a different culture. We are now working hard to summarize our work and present two concrete solutions to Jumbo that address the initial problem presented to us.

Working before the presentation copy.png

Culture and Country

Enough about work. Traveling to the Netherlands has given us a fantastic base to explore the country and Europe in general. As we mentioned above, we spent our first weekend in the Netherlands in Amsterdam with a big group of Haasies exploring everything the city had to offer. We saw a great set of museums (highly recommend Van Gogh), toured the canals and celebrated our classmate’s birthday in traditional Dutch fashion. One of our best memories was grabbing food from the local grocery store and sitting down in Vondelpark on a nice sunny day to watch the crowds. During our second week on IBD, we spent a memorable evening in the city of Rotterdam. We had the chance to go to a 500-foot observation tower and got a view of one of the largest ports in the world.

Rotterdam_1 copy.png

Rotterdam_2 copy.png

While in Rotterdam, we also had one of the best dinners on the trip. The meal was a 10 course rampage through everything Indonesian. We all left happy and full for our drive home to Veghel that night.

Indonesian Food copy.png

Finally, our group split up and spent last weekend in both Prague and Berlin. In Prague we walked around the entire city, saw a thousand-year-old church and ate a large quantity of pork knuckle. The weather was fantastic, and it was a great chance to explore the fairytale like city. In Berlin, Shipra visited her cousin, and walked along the Berlin Wall and visited the famous Brandenburg gate.

Prague copy.png

That is about all we have to say at this point. We are finishing up our final deliverable now and getting ready to head back to the US. Thanks for taking the time to read about our experience!

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 United Kingdom – Team RIU

IBD London: A Developed Country assignment doesn’t protect you from uncertainty, chaos, and self transformation

EWMBA students Arun Arunagiri, Ben Kagonyera, Sharon Kam, and Pavithra Krishna spent two weeks researching the feasibility of a startup budget hotel investment in Central London for a group of investors.

Hi!  We’re team RIU — an enthusiastic bunch hailing from the US, India, and Uganda!

Brainstorming in country, from L-R: Pavi, Sharon, Ben, & Arun. T-E-A-M spells TEAM :D

Brainstorming in country, from L-R: Pavi, Sharon, Ben, & Arun. T-E-A-M spells TEAM 😀

We’re a diverse team who had never met each other prior to the IBD course, but working together came very smoothly almost immediately since we all had the same goals in mind — to work together harmoniously and to do the best job for our client.  We also were brought together by the fact that we knew that the most valuable asset from this class would be the insights and perspectives from each other.

In our super tiny hotel elevator!  It’s amazing we had enough space to take a #selfie!

In our super tiny hotel elevator! It’s amazing we had enough space to take a #selfie!

Getting to know each other and the client was pretty easy — we sought to help our client develop a business plan to enter the budget hotel market in Central London.  In reviewing the research, though, we were overwhelmed with the amount of information and the depth of our ignorance — ARR / RevPar / ADR — what were all these terms and, more importantly, how could we master our knowledge to bring something thoughtful and meaningful to our clients?

Day of arrival presentation & Hypothesis pivot

Meeting up with our clients after work in one of London’s few “al fresco” patios

Meeting up with our clients after work in one of London’s few “al fresco” patios

What a pleasure it was to meet our clients in person!  For the first full comprehensive presentation of our initial findings, our client set up a meeting with several of his contacts, including a hedge fund investor and the Head of Business Development for Four Seasons Europe.  Given our position in Silicon Valley and our preliminary research, we were able to provide some insightful commentary on the impact of the shared economy and potential impact of AirBnb.  Our core studies helped determine and analyze key metrics to focus on with regard to supply and demand metrics and how it would impact the potential markets for hotels and hospitality.

Our financial analysis of the current business model, however, remained unclear.  Given the high prices of real estate in London, would our client be able to overcome the required hurdle rates for them and their investors?

Pics or it didn’t happen!  Photos of our team with industry thought leaders in the hotel & hospitality industries

Pics or it didn’t happen! Photos of our team with industry thought leaders in the hotel & hospitality industries

Our first conversations in a pub in central London would shape the research in the ensuing days, which included touring dozens of hotel rooms in targeted areas and interviewing hotel managers, owners, research analysts and industry experts.  Our days of research and interviewing were intense, exhausting, as well as exhilarating — we were able to meet and interview and learn from a variety of perspectives and personalities amongst one of the most diverse cities in the world.

A collage of but a few of the many hotels we investigated in our research of London hotelling

A collage of but a few of the many hotels we investigated in our research of London hotelling

But in tandem with our research was the opportunity to learn more about London as tourists — for three of us it was the first time venturing into Europe!  We got to partake in cultural events such as watching the sunset from the London Eye, enjoying high tea, and enjoying some of the best chicken we’d had in a city notorious for the lack of food options.

What a view!  Beautiful sunset panoramas from the London Eye

What a view! Beautiful sunset panoramas from the London Eye

There’s no business like High tea business @ Sketch all you can eat & drink!

There’s no business like High tea business @ Sketch all you can eat & drink!

At the end of our research, at day 9, we’d finally come to some difficult, but conclusive insights.  First and foremost, the London market would not sustain profits necessary to attract investors and necessary returns for the proposed budget hotel model.  While the term “pivoting” on an original idea is one that is thrown around pretty often in Silicon Valley, it presented an intimidating challenge halfway through our in-country experience.  Feeling somewhat deflated, many questions circled our team at this tenuous juncture: how could we pivot in a way that could reframe the proposal into one that would work for our client?  Given this initial setback, could we reconcile what we’d done out of country to the expectations in country?  In light of time that was passing faster and faster, how could we help the client get the most of our time?  Getting to know the clients better and seeing them not just as clients, but as real people who we wanted to help only increased the sense of urgency of the task at hand.

The remaining days we saw our directives and work change as a team to meet the uncertainty of the work before us.  We learned to fully trust and depend on each other.  We learned to recognize that obstacles were inevitable, but that together we could work through them.  Most importantly, we learned that we could come together as a team more strongly than we could produce individually.

The final presentation

riu8

It took days of additional research, late nights, and a relentless search for truth, (which harked back to the initial “Viking” experiment we had in class, which implored us to focus not on all information, but rather the most pertinent information).  We presented in front of our clients and a leading industry analyst in the hotel and hospitality space on our final insight findings and how the client could re-approach their investments in the hospitality sector to achieve a richer return that would satisfy their initial return requirements.  This discussion led to a final reframe of approach, and we celebrated as a group at the end of our two weeks over dinner and a beautiful walk through London with our client and their families.

Farewell London -- a walk to remember :)

Farewell London — a walk to remember 🙂

 

Updates from IBD Hungary – Team SMark

Taking Unique Anti-Counterfeiting Technology To The Global Market

Jonathan Chen, Ryan Liu, Taylor Marcus and Kati Pease

Our team arrived to Hungary on July 5 to develop a go-to-market strategy with SMark, a Hungarian startup with a state-of-the-art anti-counterfeiting solution. Our client wanted us to be able to celebrate Independence Day, so we arrived to a barbecue complete with decorative napkins. Over the following two weeks, we continued to enjoy similar Hungarian hospitality. We were continually shown new things and treated to many great things Hungary offers while working together to develop their marketing plan.

The Haas and SMark team upon arrival

The Haas and SMark team upon arrival

Our Fourth of July BBQ in Hungary!

Our Fourth of July BBQ in Hungary!

The SMark and Haas team kicked off the first morning with a deepdive of the unique anti-counterfeiting technology in order to better understand where to focus when going to market. SMark is an irreproducible authentication solution that transparently and immediately checks authenticity. The state-of-the-art solution uses security labels and verification devices. It was helpful to meet SMark’s engineering leads in-person to dive into the product overview and discuss details.

smark3

Meeting with the SMark team to understand the technology of their product.

Meeting with the SMark team to understand the technology of their product.

Following the meeting, we took some time to visit a neighboring national park in Szilvásvárad for team bonding. We went on a hike, which included feeding deer and taking a short train ride.

smark5

Team-building hike through the park.

Team-building hike through the park.

We presented our project overview to a broad audience that included SMark employees, inventors, investors and potential investors. There was a translator for those who preferred Hungarian, so our team made efforts for our statements to be as concise and as jargon-free as possible. To permit for translation, we would pause numerous times on each slide, which ultimately felt like a welcomed opportunity to develop our own thoughts.

Presenting with a translator.

Presenting with a translator.

In order to be able to help with their go-to-market strategy, our team recognized the importance of learning more about SMark’s future customers, existing customers and partnerships. We also wanted to learn about the current startup and tech ecosystem in Hungary to better understand how to take a startup to market.

In our work at Haas, our team identified a few key industries that could adopt SMark’s technology to battle counterfeiting, and our client arranged meetings with various companies. Given anti-counterfeiting challenges in electronics and with car parts, we visited Samsung and a Hungarian car part startup. At Samsung, we were able to tour the factory where LCD TVs are made to see the assembly line and better understand the supply chain.

Which Audi car part is counterfeited?

Which Audi car part is counterfeited?

SMark’s pilot customer is a Szent Tamás, a premier winery in Hungary’s Mád region. We spent a day in Mád to learn more about the wine industry and both their historical and future challenges. It was inspiring to see Szent Tamás’s excitement about SMark’s solution and equally as exciting to see SMark’s ability to update the product based on customer feedback. And thanks to SMark’s continuous hospitality, we also had an incredible wine tasting and tour of the vineyards.

smark9

The team enjoying our experience and incredible scenery at the Szent Tamás Vineyards and Winery.

The team enjoying our experience and incredible scenery at the Szent Tamás Vineyards and Winery.

One of SMark’s partnerships is with Patria Printing House, Hungary’s oldest printing company, to print their unique labels. We learned more about the technology for the labels as well as future partnership opportunities. We also toured the printing house to see how books, documents, and, of course, labels are printed to understand the process.

smark11

Discussion and tour at Patria Printing House.

Discussion and tour at Patria Printing House.

We also met with VCs, Hungarian-based startups, and multinational tech companies to understand the business side of startups and tech companies. Each meeting reinforced how numerous brilliant inventions have originated in Hungary as well as the country’s focus on going global with their businesses.

After a week of meetings in Budapest, we arrived at the SMark offices in a renovated warehouse in Miskolc to synthesize our findings from previous meetings, tours and conversations. SMark’s office is rather similar to a Silicon Valley-based startup, complete with beanbags and a comfortable atmosphere.

The Haas team at the SMark offices, complete with beanbag chairs.

The Haas team at the SMark offices, complete with beanbag chairs.

Our team focused on how SMark can refine its pitch to potential customers and VCs to have an effective go-to-market strategy. Together we developed a one-sheeter and pitch deck that articulates SMark’s product and competitive advantages. We also shared suggestions on digital marketing and relationship management for future business development and sales/marketing opportunities. Working with SMark was an incredible experience for all of us to apply many of our learnings from Haas classes from marketing courses to supply chain management to help a startup grow its technology from an invention to a business.

smark14