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

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

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

Team Yirendai after Final Presentation

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

Client and project overview

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

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

Project Details

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

Team Yirendai in IBD Class at Haas

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

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

Cultural Immersion

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

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

Team Yirendai at the Great Wall of China

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

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

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

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

Team Yirendai at the Beijing Opera

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

 

Welcome to the Summer 2018 International Business Development EWMBAs

EWMBA 2018

EWMBA 2018

The Big Reveal and Kickoff for the summer 2018 IBD program took place on May 13th in the Innovation Lab at Berkeley Haas.  Fifteen enthusiastic Evening and Weekend MBA (EWMBA) students participated, learning for the first time information about their respective IBD clients and projects.  This particular IBD class consists of three teams of five MBA Students each, all of whom will work on their IBD projects for the next five weeks at Berkeley Haas. In July they will travel to Mexico City, Shanghai and Belize City in order to live and work in-country on their respective projects for two weeks.  

Frank Schultz, IBD Faculty Director, and Mentor, says he “enjoys working with the EWMBA students because they bring a vast array of work experiences to their projects.  This can lead to very creative and transformative solutions for our clients. Plus, they are pretty cool!”

Let’s introduce our newest IBD class!  Please enjoy reading something about each EWMBA IBD student and his/her thoughts about participating in the IBD program.  

Team Mexico City:

Sounak Basu Point Reyes coast on Coastal Trail

Sounak Basu Point Reyes coast on Coastal Trail

Sounak Basu has 12 plus years of work experience in the IT Industry, specifically in U.S. Health Insurance and U.S. Postal Domains.  He has led cross-cultural teams in India, China, and the U.S.

“I believe that the opportunity offered to me by the IBD Program – to be able to expose myself to a new country, a new culture, a new business environment/challenge – will help me grow as a person both personally and professionally. I am a “student always” believer and the IBD program offers an amazing opportunity of learning that I can’t wait to experience.”  – Sounak Basu

 

Mike Chi

Mike Chi

Mike Chi is a Senior Staff Power Management IC (PMIC) Systems Engineer at Qualcomm Inc. and has a Master of Engineering Degree from University of California, San Diego in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  

“I am excited about Mexico city! Living in San Diego and bordering Mexico, I am familiar with some aspects of Mexico, but from what I heard Mexico City will be different. I am very excited about the project, which is a combination of digital marketing, data analytics and behavioral economics. These are not the topics that I focused my studies on, but I think i can apply my strong analytical skills and problem solving ability here very well.” ~ Mike Chi

Shaun Hundle and a bust of a statue

Shaun Hundle

Shaun Hundle works as a project manager for Business Sweden, the Swedish Trade and Invest Council located in San Francisco. He enjoys biking and trying new restaurants.

“I wanted to take part in IBD since my international experience is limited to Scandinavia and Northern Europe, and I wanted to broaden my global professional experience. There is a certain risk in signing up for the course and not knowing the market and client you’ll be working with beforehand, but I liked that adventure aspect. It’s a pretty unique experience and it’s unlikely I’ll have this type of opportunity again in my career.” ~ Shaun Hundle

Charles Shi

Charles Shi

After graduating from UC Berkeley with a Doctor of Philosophy, Materials Science and Engineering degree, Charles Shi started his career at Applied Materials, Inc.  Charles has published six peer-reviewed papers that were cited 1000+ times.

“Each year I travel over 200,000 miles between U.S. and Asia for work. U.S. and Asia have become a comfort zone in my professional and personal experiences. This time with IBD, I’m going to Mexico for the first time of my life. The project there will give me a rare opportunity to explore a different part of world and put my business skills to the test. Even before the trip starts, I knew I will learn a ton there!” ~ Charles Shi

Sayan Mitra

Sayan Mitra

Sayan Mitra has worked for Genentech as Oncology Pricing, Contracting, and Distribution Strategy Manager since 2014.  In this role, Sayan led strategy development for Genentech’s largest product franchise, worth $4.5B.  He also enjoys fostering kittens.

“I am very excited about working with my client.  It sounds like a very meaty project that will have a lot of impact on the client. I’ve never been to Mexico but I’m excited to taste what an authentic taco tastes like.”  ~ Sayan Mitra

 

Team Belize

Hima Erukulla

Hima Erukulla

The majority of Hima Erukulla’s career has been with Intel as a Product Development and Analog Design Engineer. Hima is also passionate about protecting our planet and volunteered in “Climate Change Lobby” to advocate for Carbon Tax and Dividend Bill”.

“Having trained and worked as an Engineer all my professional life, I saw IBD as an opportunity to apply the business knowledge I gained in Marketing, Accounting, Finance and Strategy to solve a problem in the real world. I was particularly interested in working on a social project as I strongly believe that businesses add value not only to the shareholders but also to the society and planet. “ ~ Hima Erukulla

Andrew Lee in front of a train depot

Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee has a Master of Biotechnology from Northwestern University and has an extensive background in business, science, and engineering.  When he is not working for Intuitive Surgical as a Senior Validation Engineer, Andrew enjoys playing basketball and baseball.

“I hope to learn effective problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills to deliver meaningful benefits to clients and their business while broadening my general understanding of the consulting profession, particularly in the areas of strategy and operations.  Also, as someone who deeply appreciates building connections with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds, I find the program very appealing.” ~ Andrew Lee

Jerry Philip

Jerry Philip

Jerry Philip is the Co-Founder of MarHub Berkeley, a crowdsourced information platform and a chatbot that empowers decision-making by enabling refugees with reliable, relevant, and actionable information.    His day job is at Cisco as a Technical Evangelist – SP Video Marketing and Engineer.

“Having lived in 3 countries thus far I am eager to learn the differences in doing business in a new part of the world and how I can adapt to them.  I was also hoping to be able to use some of the brainpower available at Haas, with some classmates who I have worked with previously to come up with creative solutions, bringing together everything we’ve learnt thus far and sort of serve as a capstone for my HAAS MBA.” ~ Jerry Phillip

Srinivas Rajamani in Costa Rica

Srinivas Rajamani in Costa Rica

Srinivas Rajamani also works at Intel. He is as a Competitive Strategy Manager for the Autonomous Driving (AD) and Infotainment products segments.  When he is not busy establishing Intel as a market leader in this arena, he enjoys SCUBA diving and coaching youth soccer teams.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better project and a better team. My expectation for IBD was to do a pro-bono consulting project that had the potential to have a high level of impact on the client. I am lucky to be part of a team that will be helping Glover Reef Research Station in Belize figure out a sustainable business model. This project is exciting on several different fronts: a) We are helping the client explore potential new revenue streams and a path to profitability b) we will out on the world’s second largest reef! c) couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend 3 weeks in a different country”  ~ Srinivas Rajamani

Nik Reddy works at Google as a Senior Business Strategist and a Member of Trust & Safety’s Chief of Staff Global Strategy team.  Prior to Google, he was a management consultant for Accenture. Nik has also earned a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.  

“I was hoping that I would get a nonprofit client in Latin America and, fortunately, I got put on the team that’s working with the WCS chapter in Belize. My preferred mode of learning is “by doing”, and my project will allow me to do just that, as we’ve been tasked with defining a sustainable business model for WCS Belize. I have never visited Belize and the fact that we get to spend time on-site at a remote reef research station (Glover’s Reef) is something that should be a truly memorable experience. My team and I are definitely planning on taking a few snorkeling and dive tours on our off days!” ~ Nik Reddy

Team China

Nausher Cholavaram in Singapore

Nausher Cholavaram in Singapore

Nausher Cholavaram’s career has been in E-commerce and FinTech. He has worked at eBay, a startup that was acquired by Walmart Labs and at PayPal where he is currently Senior Manager for Customer Experiences. He has helped entrepreneurs in Indonesia, India and the Bay Area better manage their businesses.

“As a child of parents with a cross-border relationship and having lived across the world, I wanted to add another culture and geography to my wandering work and travel experience. I’m super-excited, I feel like I have the best IBD project. Working on FinTech, something I am really enthusiastic about and in China which as a market has truly taken off. This will be fun to say the least.” ~ Nausher Cholavaram

Rohan Balwani

Rohan Balwani

The majority of Rohan Balwani’s professional experience has been with Oracle as a Product Manager and Design Engineer.  He is also the Product Management Mentee and Meetup Co-Organizer “For Lean Product and Lean UX Meetup Silicon Valley.”

“The IBD program gives me a platform to further expand my horizons by working on a problem in a different cultural context. It will also give me exposure to the consulting domain and help me consider consulting as a potential career path. The program will also equip me with the ability and frameworks to think through difficult problems and arrive at impactful solutions.” ~ Rohan Balwani

Tanya Gupta in Iceland

Tanya Gupta in Iceland

Tanya Gupta also works at Google and has since 2008.  In her current role, she is a Product Manager for Google Assistant. In addition to a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University​, she also has a Minor in Chemistry.

“IBD is a great opportunity to interact with other cultures in a professional setting. In an increasingly global world, it is valuable to get this exposure.” ~ Tanya Gupta

Pradeep Khanal in Mexico

Pradeep Khanal in Mexico

Pradeep Khanal’s also works at Intel as a Technical Lead and Senior Design Engineer.  He is the Co-Founder and Trustee of the Mahim Ojha Memorial Community Library library in a remote village of Nuwakot in Nepal and the Founder of the Nepal Public Service Fellowship and Co-founded PREM – “Peer Assisted Educational Enrichment and Mutual Mentoring.”

“I knew all along that I wanted to do an international project while at Haas. IBD provides a perfect opportunity to work on a real problem with a group of uniquely talented and fun classmates while allowing to travel to a place possibly not exposed to before. IBD is an opportunity where I feel I can utilize business skills gained so far at Haas. And, I am hopeful IBD experience will be helpful in my future international business aspirations.” ~ Pradeep Khanal

Edi Lim and Berkeley Haas Team Building

Edi Lim and Berkeley Haas Team Building

Edi Lim is a Senior Project Manager at Amazon where he is responsible for bringing new ideas and building software products that optimize Amazon’s fulfillment center networks.  Edi enjoys learning how the world works.

“Chinese FinTech company looking to expand into the U.S. is the perfect combination of destination, industry, client, and project. Super excited and energized. I started researching the company the same day the project was revealed – searched English and Chinese websites, watched Professor La Blanc’s Fintech talk on YouTube, and read World Economic Forum reports.” ~ Edi Lim

In summary, please welcome our summer 2018 IBD Evening and Weekend MBAs.  They are a unique and experienced group, and we are excited to see how the next six weeks unfold.  We can’t wait to see what these newest IBD students and their teams can accomplish for their international clients.  Stay tuned for more news from IBD!

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

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

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

The Seedlink team on our first day of work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

1km into the lava tubes of Jeju, Korea.

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

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

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

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

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

On the Bund, a river walk in Shanghai.

The Spring IBD Program is Off and Running….

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

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

Team Lead Reveal on Feb 1st

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

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

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

Catherine, Jocelyn, Daniel and Sara

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

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

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

Jorge Tellez

Jorge Tellez

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

Catherine Soler

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

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

Tech Team Drafting Team Members

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

James Westhafer

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

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

Team Lead Reveal

Team Lead Reveal

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

 

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

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

Natalie Bauman

Natalie Bauman

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Bangalore

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

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

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

Meeting with Freedom English Academy class in New Delhi

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

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

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

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

Berkeley-Haas alumni event in Delhi

 

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