IBD Team 51job

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

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

Notes from one of our design thinking sessions

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

Office visit to Bloomberg

The office visit to Bloomberg

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

Bullet train to Hangzhou

Bullet train to Hangzhou

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

Morning of the final presentation

Morning of the final presentation

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

 

Haas IBD Blog – Citibanamex

Written by Michelle Boyd, Kira Mikityanskaya​, ​Jack Anderson, Danielle Pinder​ & Neeraj Goyal

The view from our apartment at dawn

The view from our apartment at dawn

As the second Haas IBD team to work with Citibanamex, we knew we up for an interesting experience!  Citibanamex is one of the oldest and largest banks in Mexico, and it has a culture of being traditional.

So how does a massive and traditional bank attract the young and emerging affluent, and adapt to an increasingly digital world? 

That is the question we were trying to help solve, and here is a day in the life:

 6:00 am – 9:00 am

We were fortunate enough to be staying in an Airbnb on the 18th floor of a beautiful apartment complex.  The views from our apartment were incredible, and we were rewarded with amazing sunrises and sunsets – but more importantly we were able to get a sense of how large Mexico City is.  There are over 21 million people living in the greater metro area, which contributes to some of the worst traffic any of us had ever seen.

Although our apartment was less than a mile away from Citibanamex headquarters, our daily commute regularly took over 30 minutes, as we wound our way down the hill and through incredibly dense traffic.

Team picture on the way to the office

Team picture on the way to the office

Our commute!

Our commute!

9:00 am – 1:00 pm

When traffic was light we made it into the office by 9:00am.  The office doors were also a source of daily comedy – we are still not sure what their purpose is.

On one of our first mornings in Mexico we hosted an Ideation Workshop.  We had 17 Citibanamex employees from across the organization come together to help us develop new ideas.  Although this workshop was very generative (over 90 ideas!), it got off to a bumpy start.  Just as we kicked off the workshop with a presentation about our research, we were told we needed to evacuate; a 4.7 magnitude earthquake had just hit a town nearby.

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

Waiting to be allowed back inside after the earthquake evacuation.

After about 20 minutes of waiting outside, we went back upstairs to finish our

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

Michelle and Kira going through the office doors

presentation. We then divided into groups and tried to embody different customer personas.  Our goal was to brainstorm the tasks, influences, pain points and feelings that these customers would experience while working with Citibanamex.  These factors were then assembled into a customer journey, which was used as a platform to brainstorm potential solutions.

 

1:00 pm  – 2:30pm

The Ideation Workshop in action

The Ideation Workshop in action

Lunch is Mexico is a production.  Working lunches are not the norm, and employees regularly take an hour and a half to relax and chat with friends.  We tried everything from going to restaurants nearby, ordering from Rappi (the Amazon of Latin America), braving the crowds at the wallet-friendly Citibanamex cafeteria (3 dollars for a three-course meal!), and even the street taco’s.

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

Michelle and Neeraj digging into the street food!

2:30 pm – 4:00 pm

 Afternoons were filled with team-work sessions, meetings with various stakeholders, and the occasional coffee break.

During this time we saw some challenges related to innovating across such a large organization.  We met with amazing, intelligent and driven people, who were questioning the status quo and tackling big challenges – but were struggling to implement their initiatives, or multiple similar projects were being undertaken in different departments.  For most of our team (who came from small organizations pre-Haas), this was an interesting education in large corporate culture and organizational structure.

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

Jack taking us through a Hypothesis Tree

4:00 pm – 4:15 pm

Coffee was an important ingredient for our team, and we definitely took advantage of the Starbucks in our building.  For those of us who did not know Spanish before Mexico, ordering coffee was about as far as we got. It was appreciated.

Neeraj with a correctly spelled name and a heart for his improving Spanish

Neeraj with a correctly spelled name and a heart for his improving Spanish

4:15 pm. – 6:00pm

After coffee it was back to work, although on a few days we were lucky enough to get out of the office to learn more about Citibanamex first-hand.  We visited two branches, one traditional branch and one digital branch, as well as a contact center.  These visits gave us greater insight into both the benefits and pain points of being a priority customer.

Team picture in the contact center

Team picture in the contact center

After 6:00 pm  

When we were not indulging in the amazing restaurant scene that Mexico City offers, dinners consisted of Rappi, Uber Eats, and a few homecooked meals.

IBD is pitched as an intense team experience – after spending all day together, we were still each other’s company for dinner.  Our team made the most of this experience, and we turned dinners into friendly ‘interrogations’.  We threw out the etiquette rule of no religion or politics at the table and asked each other about childhoods, families, career goals, weird habits, and everything in between!

Although we never fulfilled Jack’s goal of watching Ten Things I Hate About You (his favorite rom-com), we all became closer friends from this experience, and we had a lot of fun hanging out and exploring what Mexico City has to offer.

Here are a few more highlights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of Team Resultados Digitais (RD) in Florianopolis. Where are we and why?

Written by Emily Gordon, Manav, Khurana, Ejededawe Okogbo, James Parnham, & Raphy Chines

It’s another cloudy day in Florianopolis, Brazil. May is considered Fall in Brazil and the clouds are rolling over and engulfing the hills, blocking out the sun. But no amount of poor weather can dampen our moods.

Floripa, as it is known to the locals, is called both the “Magic Island” and “Silicon Island” in Brazil and is home to 500,000 people. This population triples during the summer, swelling to over 1.5M, because of the 40+ beaches, amazing southern Brazilian food, and huge influx of vacationing Argentines. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen much of the beaches.

We are here working for Resultados Digitais (RD), a digital marketing platform similar to HubSpot, and one of the sexiest companies to work for in the entire country. They receive thousands of resumes every month and feature perks like an Xbox and a PlayStation, a $5,000 massage chair, a ping pong table, and weekly Cake Days. Currently sitting at 500 employees and with over 80% market share in Brazil, they are looking to take their company to the next level and expand internationally. That is where we come in.

What are we doing here?

Upon arriving in Floripa, we learned that RD has been tackling this project on three different fronts. First, the CEO Eric has been traveling to different countries in Latin America to get a firsthand perspective on the markets and to help start building the RD brand. Second, the company hired trainees from several different Latin American countries to provide a firsthand cultural perspective and to work in several divisions of RD’s business in support of international expansion. This is the first concrete investment that RD has made into the project and much of our recommendations will be developed from this trainee program. We are the third front. We were unaware of the several other projects already underway to support international expansion before arriving, so we pivoted once we were in-country and decided our time would be best spent by synthesizing these learnings into an iterative playbook that incorporates our research.

Our first task was to interview as many people as possible to understand the company and the work already being done. In the morning, we had interviews set up with the trainees from Mexico and Colombia. In the afternoon, we were set to meet with a couple of RDoers (RD employees) and Bruno, the director of product/engineering.

After our morning interviews, we had a brainstorming session prior to lunch. We used this opportunity to collect each of our perspectives from the interviews and come up with diverging recommendations for RD. PFPS for the win!

2 Hour Lunches. We were warned!

Frank, our Faculty Mentor, repeatedly told us about 2 hour lunches in Brazil, and he wasn’t exaggerating! Different RDoers often invited us to lunch. Then to coffee. Then to grab dessert. It was almost impossible to do a lunch in less than two hours! Today’s lunch was with the executive team at a Brazilian steakhouse. The food was delicious, even the chicken hearts, and we were lucky enough to spot a Brazilian celebrity from the 80s who was described as “Brazil’s Aerosmith.”

How can we work after so much food?

We tried our best to converge on a few recommendations after lunch, but the Bruno interview was looming (Was the product scalable? How did the development process work?) and the food coma was real.

Bruno gave us a better understanding of how the product team viewed the expansion effort and some of the specific challenges they would face. We spent the next 6 hours in a small, freezing room diverging on opinions of how to best help the company. Tempers flared. Emotions bubbled to the surface. But we got through the day relatively unscathed.

Nighttime lifestyle

After the workday was over, everyone was ready to unwind. Manav and James played FIFA in the office (James is still undefeated), and Ejede, Emily, and Raphy went to the gym in the mall next door. We cooked a home-made meal of beans and rice and watched an episode of Master of None in our laughably large RD shirts before calling it a night. Tomorrow, we needed to be ready for another day of rain, interviews, divergence, buffets, desserts, and Master of None.

 

IBD Team Travels to Stockholm to Help Civil Rights Defenders to Implement a New Innovation Program

Written by Carol Macavilca Paredes, Elizabeth Miller, Ingrid Monroy, Beth Williams and Blakey Larsen

Our IBD Project took us to Stockholm to help our client, Civil Right Defenders (CRD), a nonprofit organization devoted to human rights founded in 1982, to implement a new Innovation Program that will foster the development and launch of innovations. We started with one simple question, how can we apply innovation to human rights? Easy to answer, right? To be honest, none of us knew the answer four months ago.

Work hard, travel hard was definitely the motto of our team. We worked 3 weeks in Sweden and visited 2 countries, Finland and Norway.

It was hard work, but we also had a lot of fun in beautiful Stockholm, a city with 14 islands and, in the summer, 18 hours of daylight.

Our first week in the CRD office was a whirlwind: We started by introducing our project to the entire CRD staff, who gave us a warm welcome. In the days that followed, we had a lovely meal at Communications Manager’s house with Swedish pizza…

…and participated in the Stockholm Internet Forum 2017, focused on the Internet Freedom for Global Development, in order to interview innovation experts for our project.

During our second week, the most memorable highlight was to be in the CRD office when it was revealed that the organization had won a court case in which they had been working for four years. Representing 11 of about 4,700 people included in the police registry of Roma population, CRD won the court case against the Swedish state in the Svea Court of Appeal. The state was found guilty of ethnic registration and discrimination and was ordered to pay 30,000 SEK in damages to each of the 11 Roma plaintiffs. We were moved by the words of Robert Hardh, Executive Director of CRD to all the staff the day they received the news, that these are the days they live for.

Also, we had an unexpected but happy news for us: two and a half days of holidays. We decided to visit the IBD Finland team in Helsinki. At the recommendation of our client, we went to Finland by boat. The ferry ride was 15 hours of fun!

We also went to Bergen, during that holiday. We took a full day tour to see some of Norway’s most beautiful fjord scenery. We experienced the scenic Bergen Railway, the breathtaking Flåm Railway, and the narrow and dramatic UNESCO-protected Nærøyfjord.

Our team was surprised to experience a uniquely Swedish challenge: doing laundry. In Stockholm apartments, washers and dryers must be booked weeks ahead of time in order to wash your clothes. With limited options, our team had to cancel plans one evening to get our laundry done. The team at CRD said we were real Swedes now!

One fun fact is that in Sweden, purchasing alcoholic beverages isn’t a simple matter. There are no privately owned liquor stores nor do grocery stores sell wine or any liquor. Sweden has a state-run chain of liquor stores called Systembolaget, the only retail stores allowed to sell alcohol. Problems arise due to their opening hours (especially for unaware visitors like us). The stores generally close at 6pm on weekdays, at 3pm on Saturdays and all Systembolaget are closed, without exceptions, on Sundays and holidays! So you need to keep this in mind and don’t wait (like us) until 2:50 pm on Saturday to run to the store.

Last week. We had our first fika in the office and our final presentation. Fika is a tradition in Sweden, is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, but alternatively with tea, and find a baked good to pair with it.

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!

Greetings from Team Nando’s

Starting our project

The first thing we realized as soon as we stepped out to the field was that Malaysians take eating out very seriously (they eat out on average 5.6 times a week).  Our project was no small task: we had to analyze the customer journey for both our client and its competition, to identify what works best for the Malaysian customer.

In less than 5 days, we had already visited over 10 Nando’s locations and more than 20 competitors, interviewing employees, managers and customers – and probably gained a few pounds while at it!

Our first group Nando’s meal – the first of many. If you have not tried Nando’s famous Peri Peri chicken, we recommend you get to it!

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Uber drivers who don’t speak much English and don’t know the streets make for very fun rides…if you finally make it to your destination on time!

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One very important highlight of our trip: location! Nando’s chose an Airbnb for us, in the middle of KL center, which provided us easy access to all main dining locations. The biggest perk of it? We had an infinity pool on the rooftop! Our daily morning routine included gym and pool to help us cope with jetlag.

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Arriving to Malaysia in the middle of Hari Raya

Over 60% of Malaysia’s population is Muslim – and we arrived during their main festivity. Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the day that marks the end of the Ramadan fasting month, and many Malaysians take these days off to travel and spend time with their families. Every mall we visited was packed, which meant plenty of customers for us to interview and observe for the project.

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Visiting Nando’s offices

We visited the central support office multiple times to meet with different key stakeholders, from Human Resources to Operations to Marketing, digging deeper into Nando’s culture, brand and operations.

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We even got our own Nando’s shirts – we used these while interviewing customers in restaurants in stores, to make customers more comfortable about sharing their experiences with us.

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Visiting Nando’s Casas

We visited over 10 Nando’s restaurants in Malaysia to interview staff and customers.  All employees were extremely helpful and cooperative in providing us the information we required to shape our project.

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Visiting competitors

While in country, we split into two smaller groups to be able to visit as many competitors as possible. After a couple of days, we were almost professional mystery diners, ready to identify what differentiated each restaurant and what Malaysian customers experienced at each location.

One single mall had over 100 restaurants. So many choices!

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Some restaurants used technology for certain steps of the ordering process. This sushi restaurant had iPads to place orders with.

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Design thinking –  Airbnb style

Most of our work was field based, and we spent many working hours in restaurants – which meant we had to debrief late at night.  Luckily, all of us proved to be night owls. Our Airbnb walls were quickly turned into impromptu boards for our design thinking exercises, which ran until late hours at night.

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You don’t have 2 minutes?

Probably one of the most interesting parts of our project was having to intercept customers after their meals, in order to obtain their insights. You know how you feel when people approach you at the mall and try to ask you some questions for research? Well, put 5 MBA students at it, and see if you can say no! We will probably have to trademark the phrase: you don’t have two minutes? 

Exploring Malaysia

Besides visiting what seemed like hundreds of restaurants, we also played tourists during our free hours. One of the most fun areas in KL is Changkat Bukit Bintang, where you can find restaurants, clubs, and a night food market which offers bbq frogs, to satay, and of course the infamous Durian! We were adventurous enough to try it, but we never got over the smell.

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Buyer Beware

The first thing we did was the one thing we had been warned about. We entered the secret room. The shopkeeper said that he kept all the good bags in the back. To get through there, we went through a small door in the rear of the shop, through an antechamber with walls all made of mirrors, and into a narrow room with the lauded purses. The negotiation intensified quickly. The price was shouted louder, even if it did not go lower. From nowhere a second man appeared, standing behind me. The shouting went back and forth and I started to get nervous. Another Haas student had come with me, and we towered over these small Chinese men, but they were aggressive. I decided I did not want the bag and told the men. They remained unconvinced. After 5 minutes of practiced negotiations, we were able to get out of the secret room and get on with our shopping.

sapchina1Negotiating and understanding the culture was key to having an impact on SAP’s new product launch into the US. They knew the Chinese market well, but we had been brought in as consultants and ambassadors on the US small and medium business market. They were fantastic hosts, spending significant time with us helping us understand the depth of their product. They also took us to beers at the hot spots in Shanghai. We used design thinking to match our insights of the US market to the capabilities of the product to help them focus their development efforts on lighthouse customers to maximize their impact. This small but friendly team is taking on some established software players in the US.

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It was a great experience to understand the growing software industry in China and the challenge of taking a new product to a new established market. The team has a lot of work ahead, but we hope that we were able to add some focus and clarity to the path to take. And the work ahead does not mean that we did not celebrate along the way. Ganbei!

-Team Red Dragons

Updates from IBD Senegal – Team In Touch SA

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

Senegal — Three Grown Men in the Back of a Taxi

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

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

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

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

The Initial Research

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

Arrival in Senegal

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

The team having our first meal in Dakar

The team having our first meal in Dakar

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

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

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

Communicating our goals

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

Our Day of Arrival Presentation

Our Day of Arrival Presentation

Learning about the market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Formulating a strategy and our final presentation

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

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

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

Organizing our findings through a diverge/converge exercise

Organizing our findings through a diverge/converge exercise

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

Our final presentation

Our final presentation

Out and about in Senegal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The house where Léopold Senghor was born

The house where Léopold Senghor was born

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

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

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

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

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

Attending 14th July festivities organized by the French embassador

Attending 14th July festivities organized by the French embassador

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

A textile factory in the local market

A textile factory in the local market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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

Jai-rruh-jef

[Thank you in the Wolof language]

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

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

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

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

 

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

Working to Bring Hungarian Road Tolling to the USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Updates from IBD South Africa – Team African School for Excellence

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

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Johannesburg, South Africa

7:15am Breakfast

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

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8:00am Pickup

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

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

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

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

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

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2:00pm Lunch

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

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3:00pm Work Session

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

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6:00pm Break

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

7:00pm Outing with ASE team

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

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

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

10:30pm Arrive back at our guesthouse

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

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