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.

Que Alegre! Updates from Guatemala City

Written by Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison

FTMBA students Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison traveled to Guatemala City during May 2017 to work with the fourth-largest, family-owned, home goods, hardware, toy, and baby retailer in Guate mala: Cemaco.

Guatemala City

Our team arrived in Guatemala City during an exciting time for retail. Last year, the retail industry grew 13%, with growth driven by middle/high-end of the market in Guatemala City. Our client Cemaco benefited from these demographic trends, increasing revenue despite growing competition, doubling the number of stores, and receiving recognition as one of Guatemala’s most recognized brands.

Cemaco came to IBD looking for big ideas to meet aggressive revenue and profitability goals.  Among the five pillars for growth highlighted in the 2020 vision, our team was tasked to develop strategy and implementation roadmap to become the dominant e-commerce retail player in Guatemala.

The Initial Research

E-commerce is nascent but growing in Guatemala City. In 2016, e-commerce grew by 20%, mainly used by the young, urban, upper class.  Cemaco launched their beta e-commerce site in April of this year, allowing us to work in parallel with the team and project.

Prior to arriving in Guatemala City, our team conducted secondary research on the industry, competition, company, and customers to make the most of our time in-country. We sent a survey to 600 active and 250 lapsed Cemaco customers and received 80% response rate. This amazing level of loyalty and commitment from the customer base was incredible – we were excited to meet the team and customers during the coming weeks!

Arrival in Guatemala City

Arriving on Saturday, May 13th, we were greeted by the Cemaco team for a tour of the city.  We stopped by a local market, picked up groceries, and of course visited a Cemaco store.

First Days at the Office

Our day of arrival presentation gave us helpful feedback to move forward with our proposal. Meeting with the team, we felt incredibly welcome. Not to mention, it was Peter’s birthday! The team took us out to lunch and we celebrated over cake!

Learning about the market

To learn about the market, we focused our time visiting Cemaco and competitor stores, going to the warehouse to see the e-commerce logistics firsthand (and ride a forklift together!), and conducting in person interviews at Cemaco stores. These experiences helped us understand

  • What obstacles/profitability challenges Cemaco will face: Labor is very cheap in Guatemala. From a logistics perspective, Cemaco has been very flexible and fast, figuring out how to package and deliver e-commerce orders in 1-2 days
  • How Cemaco sets itself apart from the competition: Cemaco is a customer first company that puts its stores at the center of its experience. Cemaco stores are welcoming, bright, and customers enjoy spending time browsing the wide variety of products
  • Why customers love Cemaco: As an established, family owned company with Guatemalan roots, customers are extremely loyal. They feel that they can find everything they need for their homes at Cemaco, and expect to find high-quality products.

Weekend trips 

As our classmates pointed out to us, our team didn’t just work…our client Cemaco planned amazing weekend trips for us. First, we went to Lake Atitlan, where we enjoyed an amazing view of the lake, mountains, and volcanoes went on a nature hike with swinging bridges and saw ancient Mayan ruins.

On our second weekend, we hiked the Pacaya volcano where we roasted marshmallows on top and visited the beautiful, historic Antigua.  Walking down the cobbled roads, we took in the architecture and culture of the city – from carrot ice cream to a speakeasy bar called “No Se,” we tried to find all the hidden gems that Antigua had to offer.

Final Presentation

Back at work, in our final presentation, we recommended that Cemaco prioritize its growing B2B business through an e-commerce platform, and developed a customer-first omnichannel experience plan for both existing and new customers. We were especially excited about our plan to partner with apartment buildings in the nearby Zone 4, known as the “Silicon Valley of Guatemala City,” where first time renters were moving out of their parents’ home before getting married. The team took us out to drinks to celebrate!

In Conclusion

Guatemala is an amazing country and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. We were so impressed by the culture that Cemaco has created and kept strong over the past 40 years, encouraging their employees to move across functions, pursue continuing education, push for corporate social responsibility, and experiment with new business strategies. We are excited to see what’s next for Cemaco!

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

Berkeley Haas IBD 2017 – Aramis Menswear, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Written by Diane Chiang, Barun Mazumdar, Abhishek Mishra, Kalyan Pentapalli and Priya Vijayakumar

Weekend before in-country: Foz de Iguaçu

Five happy and excited Cal bears arrived at the Iguaçu airport on late Friday evening after spending almost a day in air and in connecting airports. We checked in at the beautiful Belmond hotel (which overlooks a small portion of the falls) and had our introduction to authentic Brazilian cuisine and Caipirinhas. It was love at first sight! The Iguaçu falls were absolutely breathtaking – on Saturday, we took a short walk along the waterfall trail and a boat ride on the Iguaçu River before flying to Sao Paulo.

The beauty and grandeur of the waterfalls made this short detour to Iguaçu totally worthwhile.

We arrived at Sao Paulo (SP) on Saturday evening and to kick off our 2-week stay at SP, we went to the acclaimed chef Alex Atala’s restaurant – D.O.M for an amazing fine dining experience. We spent the rest of the weekend exploring Sao Paulo and fine-tuning our Day of Arrival presentation.

First Week at the client site in Sao Paulo

We had an early start on our first day at Aramis’ office – Fabio Davidovici and Luan Silva with whom we had been collaborating since the start of our project greeted us. We presented our “Day of Arrival” presentation to Richard Stad (CEO) and Fabio. It was a very interactive session peppered with questions and interesting discussions around retail trends, brands, and competition.

Because of the high level of engagement, our meeting that was initially scheduled for an hour ran for over two hours. Richard appreciated the groundwork we had done while at Berkeley, it was also a great opportunity for us to learn more about the company and its challenges directly from the CEO. At the end of the first day, Fabio gave us a tour of one of the stores to round out the day.

On Tuesday, we spent the entire day visiting Aramis’ stores at various malls in Sao Paulo. This was an amazing way for us to get to better understand their products, store layouts, and store employees. We interviewed many store managers and sales people to understand the challenges and processes within the stores. We also visited many of Aramis’ competitor’s stores. We shared our initial feedback, observations, and ideas with Fabio, many of them centered on visual merchandising in the store.

Throughout the course of the week, we met with directors and managers across different functions – Marketing, CRM, Inventory planning, Warehousing, E-Commerce, Store Supervisors, Retail, HR and Customer Service. We also got a chance to have lunch on one of the days with the Founder, Henri Stad. Although we experienced a language barrier, Fabio attended all the meetings with us and helped with translation and provided more context.

We also scheduled meetings with stakeholders outside Aramis. We had a very insightful discussion with Fabio Matsui from Cypress Capital (HAAS ‘03) where he walked us through the Brazilian apparel retail industry and the various participants.

We also met with Daniel Maladrin (HAAS ‘05) from 2BCapital/Bradesco – the PE firm that invested in Aramis few years ago. Daniel introduced us to Leonardo Santos from Semantix, which was another company that the PE firm had invested in. We invited Fabio to join us for our meeting with Leo, where he walked us through the omni-channel strategy he had implemented at an American retailer and the challenges he faced launching in Brazil. We identified many synergies between Aramis’ omni channel implementation and the current work that Semantix is doing, and the two companies plan to start some initial discussions to collaborate.

By the end of week one, we learnt a lot about the Brazilian people – their food, culture, and working styles.  Fabio spent a generous amount of time to ensure we were comfortable, got enough face time with Aramis employees and explored Sao Paulo the way locals do.

 

Splendid Salvador and Refreshing Recife

We took a late flight on Friday to Salvador to experience the northeastern part of Brazil. We spent Saturday at Salvador exploring the churches, beaches and the colorful Pelorinho neighborhood. The highlight of the day was the amazing Bahian cuisine we had at Pariso Tropical. This restaurant won our top vote among twenty other strong contenders for the best food of our entire trip! Later that night, we flew to Recife and spent our Sunday exploring Recife and nearby Olinda. We returned to Sao Paulo on Sunday night.

Monday started with a series of previously scheduled meetings.

Talia from Visual Merchandising was the first meeting; she travels around the country for store openings and renovations. She has been re-working the store layouts to make them look fresh and cater to younger demographic. The major challenge she faces is convincing the store managers that the new layouts will lead to increased sales. We then met with Felipe from Store Sales Management who manages all store managers across the country and was able to share how sales strategy has changed over the years and lately with the advent of new POS technology.

 

At the end of each day, we debriefed and communicated our findings till date and next steps with Fabio. We had dinner with Fabio and his wife Fernanda, who took us out to Don Veridiana, which many locals claim to have better pizza than in Italy.

On Tuesday, the team interviewed Mariana, Director of Product, the final scheduled interview and learnt more about how Aramis designs and sources its products. With interviews now over, we focused on consolidating our findings and clarifying any remaining questions we had. After a full day working session, the team agreed to expand the scope beyond assortment planning and omni-channel to include other functional areas and do a 360 analysis.

On Wednesday, the team marched towards the converge phase and began to build on the final business plan to the client. We separated our recommendations into multiple functions including: Inventory Planning (Assortment and Replenishment), Customer Relationship management (CRM), Customer Service, Data/IT Integration, Store Experience, Multi-channel, and Internal Communication. Throughout the day, we had multiple calls for clarifications, and by the end of the day, we had an initial draft that we shared with Fabio before we headed out for some excitements! In the evening, we went to watch football match between two bitter rivals: Palmeras and Colinhas, accompanied by Fabio and Luan.

Thursday being the final day, the team had an early start. We received feedback from Fabio on the initial draft, and decided to move forward with additional deep dive into assortment models. We had dinner at the CEO Richard’s house, along with his wife and son. We learned about Richard’s travel experiences, and discussed his vision about emerging technologies in retail. After dinner, the team headed back to the hotel for the final home stretch of our business plan and wrapped up around 4am.

Friday, the last day at Aramis, was quite a bittersweet experience. We started the day with our presentation with Richard (CEO), Fabio and other executives. Richard showed strong interest and agreed with most of our findings and recommendations. He showed special interests in the assortment models that we recommended and believed it could be quickly implemented. Richard appreciated the fact that we had dug deep into the entire organization, and that we understood the sentiment and culture of Aramis in such a short timeframe. Though rewarding and relieved, it was quite a bittersweet moment when we finally had to say good bye to everyone at Aramis.

Brazil Finale

For the final weekend in Brazil, we headed to Rio de Janeiro. Over the next two days, we experienced the landmarks, nightlife, shopping, and cuisine. The experience of the IBD program has been beyond our expectations and cannot be expressed in words. We appreciated the opportunity to work with Aramis while experiencing the incredible country of Brazil. The five of us also built such strong bonds during the trip that we know we can rely on each other.

Wrapping Up Our Citibanamex Experience

Written by Kim Eun, Pamela Ju, Deepak Kurien and Austin Lu

It’s been an exciting two weeks for the Haas IBD Citibanamex team!  We came, we met, we ate, we worked, and we conquered – in that order.

Meeting Citibanamex

Our main client contact, Alex West, had done an incredible job setting us up with teams all around the bank.  We had meetings with the CIO, the new head of UX, directors in the eCommerce group, and a lot of exposure to their relatively new Innovation and Digital teams. We visited their call center, the digital factory, a new smart branch, and this afternoon we will be ending our experience at the still-in-the-works Innovation Lab.

Citibanamex has been investing a lot in innovation and digitizing their experience, and they’ve seeded these teams with existing bank experts as well as recruiting from the likes of Wal-Mart and IBM.  We had a lot of opportunities to talk to them in 4-on-1s, and everyone was incredibly generous with their time and resources.  They were excited about our project and wanted to help in any way they could.

The Project

Our project: propose a new insurance product for Seguros Citibanamex, with a focus on how to execute it through digital channels.  We’ve spent these past few weeks ideating around this – specifically a product that would be appealing to women.  At the end of the day, we would go back to the hotel room and brainstorm and argue about what features would be the most important (see picture below).  We were lucky enough to have a team dynamic where we could argue with each other but never take it personally.

More than once, we came up with the only partially joking conclusion that, “Insurance is a perfect product.”  As the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex reminded us, “Insurance is a wonderfully complex product that also does a world of social good.”  We ultimately came up with a product that we very proud of: Sueños Seguros Citibanamex.  It is an investment-insurance product that helps women realize their dreams.

The Final Presentation

We presented it yesterday morning, and Alex and Gaby Galindo (Citibanamex’s head of innovation) did us the great honor of setting us up in Citibanamex’s beautiful palace downtown.  We started at 8 am in a comedor, where we were served breakfast and Gaby welcomed everyone to the morning’s events.  In addition to us, Gaby and Alex, we had 13 additional guests from the insurance team, ranging from product managers to the Deputy CEO of Seguros Citibanamex.  We could tell that we were helping to bring these two organizations together and were both honored and nervous at the responsibility.

Fortunately, the presentation went really well.  Right after we pitched the product, people began asking us questions.  At first, we were worried that it meant our product was going to be received poorly – but it soon became clear that they were all excited by our proposed innovations and wanted to work through exactly what that would look like.

At the end of the presentation, the leader of the Insurance team thanked all of us for our work and told us that every part of our product seemed feasible – except for potentially the technical components (such as our proposed insurance simulator or process flows through their insurance app.)

We were so pleased with how our presentation went – and pleasantly surprised to hear that they would continue to iterate on our work and that one day we may see a version of our product on the Seguros Citibanamex website.

The Last Days

The rest of the day was a dream: an archivist led us on a tour of the Citibanamex palace downtown, we went out to lunch with the insurance team for traditional Mexican food and were very sad to leave them at the end.  Finally, one of the team members led us on a tour of the Zocolo.  We had been there just the week before, but this experience really showed us what a difference having a local with us makes.  He made us go in buildings that we had just walked by before, and we were stunned by how incredibly beautiful these buildings were.  There was the gold-plated Post Office, with a stunning staircase in the middle that made us all gasp out loud when we saw it.

As our experience is coming near the end, we’re both excited to be going home and sad about leaving all the people we’ve met in our two weeks here.  There is the lady at the front desk who provides us all of our security badges every morning.  She asks about what we have done, and Austin entertains her with stories about eating chapulines (grasshoppers), meeting his new favorite luchador, Fuego, and driving on the streets of Mexico City.  There is Thelma, the incredibly kind administrative aid that brings us water and books our meetings, finds us rooms, and helps us when we don’t know how to handle a situation.  When we walk around the office now, we see people that we know and we stop and chat – it’s hard to imagine that we only showed up two weeks ago.

We’ve seen and accomplished a lot in the last two weeks and we couldn’t have had a better experience.

 

The Adventure Begins, Team Ananda in Bangkok

Written by Kevin Cottle, Gian Gentille, Jordan Taylor, Mike Solarz and Elspeth Ong

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

Lunch with fellow classmate and IBDer, Harsh.

After a whirlwind week of finishing finals, packing up our apartments and saying goodbyes to our friends in Berkeley, our team of five – Elspeth, Mike, Kevin, Gianfranco, and Taylor – headed to Southeast Asia to complete our consulting project for Ananda, a premier real estate developer in Thailand.  Ananda, founded by a Haas alum, is one of the largest condominium developers in Bangkok.  We were tasked with conducting a competitor analysis and developing a growth strategy plan to help Ananda achieve its aggressive growth targets. 

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

Team Ananda in front of Marina Bay Sands

The Adventure Begins

The team decided to take a detour en route to Bangkok and spent the weekend before our official start date in Singapore, our team lead Elspeth’s home country.  Harsh, another classmate and IBD team lead, was also in town and the two of them were incredibly gracious hosts, showing us all of their favorite Singapore hotspots.  We explored Orchard Rd, Clarke Quay, Gardens by the Bay, and the beautiful Marina Bay Sands hotel, where we took breathtaking photos of the city.  We enjoyed an incredible dinner with Elspeth’s family and a great day at Sentosa, definite highlights of the weekend.  The weekend was the perfect start to our Southeast Asian adventure and was a nice mini vacation prior to arriving in Bangkok and hitting the ground running with our client.

       Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Enjoying dinner with the Ong Family.

Ananda Week 1

Our client met us in the lobby of our hotel Monday morning to bring us to the office, which was conveniently located next door; the proximity proved to be a huge blessing as we came to know the huge challenge that is Bangkok traffic.  We spent the first week introducing ourselves to key stakeholders within the company and conducting interviews to validate the work we had done in Berkeley.  We spoke to employees who had worked at other real estate development companies and pulled on the expertise of strategic business development VPs.  We made use of consumer surveys and other market intelligence research the company had conducted and incorporated all of this new information into our analysis.

By the end of the first week, we had validated our competitive analysis processes and reworked some of our strategies based on client feedback.  We had spent most of our time with our main point of contact, Khun Lloyd, who was incredibly generous with his time and went out of his way to ensure we had a proper introduction to Bangkok.  He kept us busy with lunches and dinners throughout the week, and it quickly became evident how important relationship building is to doing business in Thailand.  We had also discovered the magic of Thai massages and began planning our spa visits for the remaining time in country!

Angkor Waaaat

After our first week of work, we headed out to Siem Reap, Cambodia!  Our trip to the airport was our first real taste of Bangkok traffic and we ended up using multiple modes of transportation, running through the streets and the airport, and convincing an airport employee to help us cut the immigration line in order to make our flight.  The crazy travel experience was well worth it and we very much enjoyed our time exploring various temples in Siem Reap and hanging out at our fancy Airbnb, equipped with a pool in the living room.  We had a relaxing day on Sunday at Phnom Kulen where we swam and played in waterfalls all day.

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Team Ananda in action at Ankor Wat

Week 2

Week two began with a day of site visits to both Ananda and competitor properties.  We were impressed by our client’s showrooms and model units, which clearly stood out from their competitors.  The attention to detail and beautiful interior design made us all want to invest in Thai property!

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

The team contemplating purchasing some Thai property

The rest of the week was spent conducting final research and putting the finishing touches on our final presentation deck, which we presented Friday of Week 2 to the CEO and our main points of contact, Dr. John and K. Lloyd.  The presentation went well and we had a great discussion about our recommended strategies, learning that many of the workstreams we suggested were already under consideration. Additionally, we discovered our client’s passion for technology.  The team is quite visionary and frequents tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv to scope innovations that could be used to improve their properties and/or work processes.

All smiles after the final presentation.

All smiles after the final presentation

Week 3

Having completed our presentation and main assignment at the end of week two, we spent week three networking and exploring Bangkok.  Our client put a strong emphasis on us using our time in country to understand Thai culture and life in Bangkok and encouraged us to use week three to gain this knowledge.  We met with another Berkeley alum, K. Paul Ark, who heads up the VC arm of SCB, one of Thailand’s major banks.  We connected with a Haas 2015 alum who started his own VC fund and learned more about his post-Haas experience and the work he does in bridging Thailand and San Francisco.  We are grateful to have had this free time to further explore Bangkok and to gain a deeper understanding of business in Thailand.  We feel spoiled to have been connected with so many interesting people and feel lucky to have spent these three weeks at Ananda.  We look forward to staying in touch with our new contacts and will see many of our Ananda contacts in August when they visit the Bay Area!

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Competing with Team Indonesia’s teddy bear mall picture

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

Exploring the old Siamese capital of Ayutthaya

IBD Hong Kong Blog

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

Day Zero

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

Day One

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

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

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

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

Day Two and Three

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

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

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

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

Day Five

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

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

Day 15

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

Day 16

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

Day 18

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

Leaving on a Jet Plane: Four Summer IBD Teams Depart for IBD In-Country Experiences

2017 Evening Weekend IBD Students

The IBD Evening Weekend MBA (EWMBA) Teams are on their way to their in-country destinations where they will spend the next two weeks working with their IBD clients before presenting their final recommendations on July 14th.  Despite only having a short 6 weeks to prepare, IBD teams are ready to start their time with their clients, face-to-face.  Teams are traveling to Harare, Phnom Penh, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo.  Are they ready?  Faculty Mentor and Instructor, Frank Schultz shares that his students “can’t wait!  They have been preparing with such intensity for their in-country time.  They have formed very good relationships with their clients via skype, google hangouts, etc, but are anxious to work directly with their clients.”

While the teams have been digging into the scope of the project and learning about their client’s industries, they have also been focusing on team dynamics.  ACT Team Lead, Praveen Settipalli is impressed with all that his team has accomplished in a short 6 weeks.  “Our team has quickly bonded and formed a trust that has helped us to divide and conquer our workload and be able to deliver what we promised to our client.”  

In addition to great team dynamics, the Team Leads must put all of team members’ skills to work.   This may be one of the hardest parts of the role, but when it is done right, it is one of the most rewarding.  Sushant Barave, the Team Lead for Samai Distillery, has found this part of the journey “personally satisfying”.   He has been working with a “great bunch of Hassies” who “in several aspects, are at a higher level of expertise in specific subject matters, than me”.  Sushant has looked to his peers to provide a “high level of expertise in specific industries and functions” and he feels that his peers “strengths have created a tremendous learning opportunity for all of us, (that) hopefully set (them) up for delivering a quality product to their client.”  

It should be no surprise that the time in-country makes the whole process more productive and manageable.  It is difficult trying to communicate via video platforms across time zones,  language differences, and cultural nuances.  Teams and clients are excited to break down those barriers and dig into their projects face-to-face.   

Team Lead, Kalyan Pentapalli, and his team are ready to get to Sao Paulo to work with their client Aramis Menswear.   With no retail experience on the team, they have had to get up to speed quickly. This is exactly the experience that they hoped to get by signing up for IBD.  “In the past month, I have learned so much about consulting and retail, more than I have learned in the two and a half years of being in the MBA program,”  Kalyan shared.  

Cambodia’s first rum distillery. Founders Daniel and Antonio grew up in Venezuela, soaking in rum culture and drinking the best rums of the world

Sushant couldn’t agree more with his classmate, Kalyan.  “I am super excited about getting to Cambodia. I feel it is all coming together.  Over the last 6 weeks, we have already been able to apply several concepts we grasped as part of our coursework at Haas. Part of our project focuses on operations, and I can see our (Berkeley-Haas) Operations Professor talking about inventory management concepts that we are trying to apply.  We are also be looking at the quality of financial statements as well as pricing and expansion which bring together the knowledge we have gained at Haas. One of the main reasons I wanted to be a part of IBD was to see how we can apply what we learned in the classroom to the real world.  This is where the rubber meets the road. In a couple of days we start to find out what works and what doesn’t in a practical setting. This is the most exciting part. In some ways, most of our work in Berkeley has been on paper and now it’s time to test it.  We are going to do that over the next two weeks.“

IBD Team & ACT 2015

This summer, two teams are working with repeat clients, ACT and Samai Distillery, and having the past IBD exposure has helped with efficiently this year.  Samai’s Co-Founder, Daniel Pacheco learned a lot from the “previous year where communication was not great before the team arrived.   It was hard for us to understand capabilities and expectations and also because things change so fast being a startup.  But with this team, we discussed these points from the very beginning and were able to have a more effective approach.”  These insights benefited this year’s Samai team and they were able to define a clear scope and identifying which deliverables would be the most useful.

Two weeks can go by very quickly and with so much to accomplish, clients and students are anxious to hit the ground running. Kalyan’s team has already presented their full day agenda and wish list for customer and stakeholder interviews to Aramis.  Fabio Davidovici, Aramis’s Strategic Planning Director, is anxious for the team to arrive so they can “have great discussions and clever insights”.  Samai’s co-founder’s goals are to get them more familiar with the business, then they will spend time gathering as much data as needed to finalize their deliverables.  “We hope these deliverables will not just be a one-off report, but tools that can be used by us to work more efficiently moving forward…it was also very valuable for us to be able to pick the teams brains about areas that might be outside the agreed scope,” shares Daniel Pacheco.  ACT’s Team will stay in their client’s home for the two weeks that they are in Harare.  Praveen says they are excited to experience the intensity and productiveness of a work and living situation.   He also mentioned that his client has a pool and so that makes the six-day work week more appealing.   

On the eve of their departure, we are excited to get all of our Berkeley-Haas students safely to their destinations and started on their team and personal IBD journeys.  We are confident in their abilities to provide their clients with valuable insights and recommendations.  As one of our 2017 Full-Time MBA Team Lead’s shared after returning from her in-country experience, “IBD really is all it’s cracked up to be.”  We expect the same reaction from our Evening Weekend MBA teams.

Dari Kita, Untuk Kita – From Us, For Us

Written by: Mackenzie Cooke, Anne Kimberley, Tyler Owens, Karin Schmidt and Nony Onyeador

A poem by esteemed poet, Annie Kimberley:

In the dark of night, we wake and depart,

For beating a long commute, we need this jump start;

The worst traffic in the world by far,

Hard to fathom the hours spent in a car.

At last we reach the end of the road,

Sleepy out of the van we all unload;

A punch of pizzazz wakes us with a start,

The crowd is dancing with all of their heart.

The Zumba class is full of women,

In neon outfits- what a vision!

Their dance moves put us to shame,

We couldn’t keep up with their game.

“Hi guys, tomorrow, we’ll be leaving from your hotel at 4:30 AM in order to get on the road to Bandung. Will you be awake?”

There’s seems to be little choice in the matter. Our team is scheduled to attend one of many community events that Diamond Fair puts on in the neighborhoods around their ten existing Diamond Fair stores. The stores are a part of a recent retail initiative launched by the manufacturer, Diamond Cold Storage’s distribution company, Sukanda Djaya. The stores, together called “Diamond Fair” work to complete a trilogy of vertical integration that few companies have the luxury of pulling off profitably. In order to make the morning event on time, we have to beat the infamous Jakarta traffic.

17:00, Thursday, May 18th

“Actually, we have to meet the rest of the team for breakfast at 4:30, so please be ready at 4:00 AM and we will drive over”.

No problem at all. Up to this point, we have only been on-site for four days and are acclimating slowly to the 14-hour time difference. Our gracious client has put us up at the Harris Hotel in Bekasi, a city about an hour outside of the industrial park that houses PT. Diamond Cold Storage. Bekasi is about an hour from the capital city, Jakarta.

Team Diamond Fair's Family Photo

Team Diamond Fair’s Family Photo

The Harris Hotel is attached to a mall, so we learn to entertain ourselves in the evenings at one of the nightly concerts or with strolls around the four-story building. A group of us take to trying new restaurants while the others spend an hour in the gym. By the end of our trip, we see the mall/hotel as home and commemorate our stay with a team photo shoot filled with silly, Awkward Family Photos at a professional portrait store in the basement.

4:15, Friday, May 17th

One of our client colleagues, Nurdin, picks us up from the hotel. We usually spend our car rides playing dice or Batachelli but none of us are in the mood at this hour.

4:35, Friday, May 17th

The client has picked up quickly on Mackenzie’s love of coffee and they decide to stop for breakfast at a 24-hour Starbucks to kick off our journey. The 12 of us pile into the quiet Starbucks for coffees, pastries, and yogurt. Looking outside, hundreds of cars, vans, and trucks are already backed up for miles on the highway bordering the Starbucks.

We are fascinated, but only slightly. Within the week that we’ve been there, we learn that at least half of the 12-person Diamond Fair team is traveling more than 2 hours each way to get to work. The new infrastructure projects commissioned by Indonesian President Jokowi exacerbate the traffic, but will hopefully provide respite via two elevated train lines within the next few years.

Diamond Fair's mobile truck

Diamond Fair’s mobile truck

5:00, Friday, May 17th

By 5:00 AM, we’re on the road again, heading to the “Paris of Indonesia” otherwise known as Bandung. The nickname is a reference to the fact that most “Made in Indonesia” tag items are manufactured there. As a result, the city is filled with outlets and factory stores for excess clothing from brands we know well.

7:00, Friday, May 17th

We park and walk into a concrete clearing behind office buildings to find the first event already underway. Diamond Fair is one of the sponsors for one of the city appreciation events. The event is a sports day and Diamond Fair’s mobile truck selling ice cream, juice, milk, and several other products already sits gleaming on the sideline. A large crowd forms around the truck and they sell more than 75 transactions within the hour.

Mackenzie holding a beautiful baby

Mackenzie holding a beautiful baby

A small group of men asks for pictures with us, and it sets off a flurry of photo shoots that culminate in a woman handing Mackenzie her new-born baby for a sweet shot.

9:00, Friday, May 17th

We make it to the town of Cimahi where the most profitable Diamond Fair store sits. We have planned a focus group discussion and begin preparing the office. From 10 AM to 12 PM, we see over 30 customers and non-customers asking a slew of questions about their shopping habits, experience with Diamond Fair, willingness to order online and more. The focus groups are especially eye-opening because we have so many preconceived notions about buying habits from the United States that are completely different in Indonesia. The average Indonesian grocery shopper is likely a matriarch and is completely driven by price promotions. They will travel well out of their way just to save a few cents and are especially agnostic to ordering online despite the time and cost of travel. We also meet several small business owners who make a good starting base for a potential subscription delivery service idea that we are considering. Both reference community and referrals as a major way that they learn about offers and new stores. Their answers validate many of Diamond Fair’s PR and promotion strategies.

Consumer Interviews

Consumer Interviews

13:00, Friday, May 17th

After FGDs, we grab lunch and try eating the traditional meals with our hands for the first time as Indonesians would. The team orders us a buffet of items, chicken, several styles of fish, sautéed vegetables, and a couple tofu and tempeh options for Annie, the vegetarian of our group. The food is delicious and we wrap it up with coconut waters straight from the fruit.

15:00, Friday, May 17th

After lunch, we head out to a “CompShop”, shorthand for a competitor shopping exercise, to observe what other grocery chains are doing. This includes how they display and promote items, what their loyalty programs entail and where Diamond products are positioned. It takes two hours to get to our first grocery story and we are astonished to find out later that it is only a couple of kilometers away.

19:00, Friday, May 17th

Two CompShops and several hours later we head to dinner at a fancy restaurant overlooking the water. Here we would have one of the very rare occasions on the trip, in the majority-Muslim country, to drink alcohol.

Around 10:30 PM after lots of laughs and a full stomach, we are happy to head back to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow is another early wake-up call.

6:00, Saturday, May 18th

We begin driving back to the Diamond Fair Cimahi store, this time for a community Zumba event.

7:00, Saturday, May 18th

As described in our poem, the Zumba event is filled with high energy and great music. Over 20 men and women of all ages hustle alongside an instructor cloaked in matching black and blue sweat suit emblazed with the word, “Zumba”. In fact, everyone is dressed for the occasion with a couple of women looking almost like superheroes with their neon outfits and matching headscarves. An exuberant woman dressed in a baby blue and pink sweat suit pumping effortlessly to the music in the front encourages the crowd with loud, passionate calls to move and get into the music. It is unclear whether she knows the instructor or is simply a good Samaritan, but she makes all of us smile with excitement.

Karin, Mackenzie, and Annie join in for the workout and Tyler charms with a couple of moves of his own.

Zumba

9:00, Saturday, May 18th

The final event of the weekend is a cooking demonstration led by PR Head, Indri. She shows the women how to make Eggs Bolognese with Diamond branded items and then lets them try it with some Diamond-owned Jungle Juice. The women enjoy the event and once again we are impressed with the reach and attendance of each event. After all, only one store has been open for more than seven months. The events show how dedicated Diamond Fair is to making their B2C strategy work and it helps drive us more to create the best recommendations for the Indonesian context. Plus, we have a lot of fun.

12:00, Saturday, May 18th

Cooking demonstration

Cooking demonstration

We pile into the car for the long journey back to Bekasi. It has been quite the weekend, but these two days make us feel more knowledgeable than ever about our client and their business. We’re happy to have been a part of it all.