Update 2 from IBD Team Fielo

FTMBA students Dan Cho, Cynthia Song, Peter Stilwell, Rob Uvanovic and Qing Ye spent 3 weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires working with Fielo, a B2B loyalty incentivization platform. Here, they give an insight into life outside the office.

Our IBD project has taken us to three amazing countries in three weeks. It’s been hard work but we’ve also had an opportunity to live as South Americans do, embracing their passion for both football and fitness.

The Big Game
The Build-Up
We’re going to the Boca game!” Rob announced, brandishing five tickets and smiling like Charlie when he won the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The group emitted a collective shudder. Boca Juniors…one of the biggest football clubs in Argentina with the most passionate supporters in the country, and possibly the world. Such passion often spilled over into violence with almost 90 deaths at football matches in the previous 10 years.Picture1

And we were going. Our motley crew of two Americans, to whom passion in sport was getting upset because the hotdog at the baseball didn’t have enough mustard and two Chinese whose only previous experience of live sport was watching their grandparents play Mahjong.

As we approached tPicture2he magnificent Bombonera stadium, we could feel tangible tension in the air. This despite the fact that there were no opposing fans since a nationwide ban several years earlier! We walked through approximately 12 lines of police, spread out every 100m or so on the approach to the stadium. Each time we were searched thoroughly, with seemingly something confiscated at every step. By the end, they had even taken away Dan’s pink highlighter. Fortunately, this turned out to be the most traumatic event of the evening.

The Main Event
The game itself was a low quality 0-0 draw but despite this the crowd made an almighty noise and never stopped drumming and singing. We briefly pondered how a drum was allowed into the stadium and not a pink highlighter but couldn’t work it out. Just as impressive were the flags, banners and ribbons which brightened up the stadium, creating a visual cacophony of yellow and blue.

Photo credit: Qing Ye

Photo credit: Qing Ye

The Aftermath
As we made our way out of the stadium into the Buenos Aires night, we reflected on a quite remarkable evening. The Boca supporters had been truly magnificent and we had witnessed nothing but passionate support for their team. The team agreed that it had been a successful evening and returned home reinvigorated for the next day of work, stopping off at the dry cleaner to drop off Dan’s soiled underwear.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 1.57.21 PM

From the moment we landed in Rio, we’ve been in awe of the natural beauty that surrounded us. We would often gaze around in wonder, mesmerized by the synergy of mountains, water, and city. Our team lead, Cynthia, inappropriately noted that in addition to the beautiful landscape, the people were rather attractive as well. Peter wisely offered his opinion, suggesting that this was possibly due to the fact that there was at least one gym or fitness studio per block and an exercise station every few hundred feet along the beach.

Following up on his observation, we attempted to do as the Brazilians do and get our fitness on. Look at Cynthia.

Interesting attempt. Man in green shorts is not impressed.

Interesting attempt. Man in green shorts is not impressed.

Rob did well. Form is on point. Why was his shirt still on? Brazilians were also confused.


Here is Peter and Dan at a gym. The trainer winked and flirted his way to Peter’s million dollar frown.


QING!!…wrong outfit for pushups. No ponytail. Shoeless. Laughing. Sigh


Peter and Dan went on a morning jog along Ipanema beach. Wowza. Would ya look at that!


We celebrated with a coconut.
Drink the coconut Peter.


Good. Fabulous technique Peter.


Time for the team to put all that exercise to good use and jump…!


ROB!! >=( We’ll miss you Rio ❤




Updates from IBD Brazil – Team Bematech

Berkeley-Haas Part-Time MBA students Janice Chien, Dan Krebs, Reid Yokoyama, and Roma Zhu worked with the Brazilian point of sale company Bematech.

Olá from Curitiba, Brasil!

Bematech isn’t a company you may be familiar with in the US, but thanks to Team Bematech, the company will hopefully make some waves in the competitive point-of-sale market in the United States.

A Rollercoaster of Emotions

Bematech is a publicly traded point of sale company in Brazil (BEMA3:BZ) which has dominated the Brazilian market due to the sale of monitors, cash registers, and printers for Brazilian businesses. Most importantly, Bematech produces fiscal printers, which are required by businesses to track the government tax of each sale.

Through acquisition, Bematech entered the US market and sells kitchen display systems and all-in-one point-of-sale hardware. The point-of-sale industry, thanks to companies like Square, Clover, Revel, and hundreds more, is undergoing a rapid transformation, and Bematech wanted us to identify key trends and strategies to grow their presence in the US market.

Unfortunately, no one on the team had any familiarity with point-of-sale hardware! Our pre-country work included rapid learning, interviews with distributors and merchants, and of course, PFPS tactics:

Employing PFPS tactics!

Employing PFPS tactics!

At our darkest moments, we felt the request was impossible and as part time students, the demands of work and family life meant it was difficult to put in the time that the project required. But, we were able to hone in on several key strategies to pursue in country and arrived in Curitiba with several to present to Bematech.

Building Trust…

Meeting the leadership team in Brazil was eye-opening. We were briefed on Brazilian culture, but experiencing it in person was incredible: everyone was extremely friendly, gave us their favorite recommendations for our weekend trip to Rio de Janeiro, and wanted us to get the most out of our trip.

Haas gear travels well and makes a great client gift!

Haas gear travels well and makes a great client gift!

…and finding a purpose

Although our goal was to help with a US growth strategy, Bematech took us to their factory where they make their fiscal printer. Given the government move to online tax tracking, the fiscal printer’s lifespan is limited. There, we were warmly greeted on the factory floor and watched workers assemble printers and repair broken ones (Operations 101, anyone?)

We were warmly welcomed at the Bematech factory

We were warmly welcomed at the Bematech factory

A view of the factory floor

A view of the factory floor

It was here that we realized that our class project, presentations, and final grade had a higher purpose. We had a chance to help Bematech transform beyond their traditional business model. Doing so would ensure the workers in this factory would continue to have jobs in the future. Our team was even more motivated to work on our final presentation.

We also got to test a new product that will hit the market later this year:

Janice may or may not have purchased 25 cervejas :)

Janice may or may not have purchased 25 cervejas 🙂

Have Cal gear, will travel

Locals gave us enough recommendations to spend a whole month in Rio, but we had to settle for a weekend getaway between our in-country weeks. Suffice it to say: the weather was beautiful, we played volleyball with locals, and churrascarias and caipirinhas did not disappoint.

Visiting Cristo De Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro

Visiting Cristo De Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro

Wearing Cal gear also allowed us to meet a few students traveling in country on an exchange program!

Opportunities like these are once in a lifetime and having read several of the Haas in the World blog posts, it’s incredible what Haas students have accomplished all over the world. Hopefully we did our part to represent Haas and make a difference for our client and their customers.

Obrigado – thank you!

Updates from IBD Brazil – Team Sony PlayStation

Consoles, Caipirinhas and Coxinhas: Our Journey through Brazil

Steve Boogar, Andrew Hill, Amanda Ogus, Caitlyn Toombs

Greetings from Sao Paulo, Brazil! We have had an action-packed three weeks here working hard and playing hard for Sony PlayStation Brazil’s office. For our project, we were tasked with understanding gamer motivators and the gaming market in Brazil (vagueness of description based on our comprehensive NDA we signed prior to arrival :-).

First day at the new Sony PlayStation-Brazil offices (with a not-quite-to-scale map of South America/Brazil behind us. L to R: Caitlyn Toombs, Amanda Ogus, Andrew Hill, Steve Boogar

First day at the new Sony PlayStation-Brazil offices (with a not-quite-to-scale map of South America/Brazil behind us). L to R: Caitlyn Toombs, Amanda Ogus, Andrew Hill, Steve Boogar

Working Hard

In our first two weeks, we went to the streets (literally) to try to understand in person what we had been researching for the last 5 months. From taxes to currency issues, Brazil’s market has different problems to tackle for all economic goods. Add to that a relatively recent formal Brazil PlayStation presence (2-3 years) with a savvy Brazilian consumer used to asking many questions and researching many price points. As a result, between physical market and custom differences, it was important for us to see the stores ourselves and talk with as many people as possible.

We started with a whirlwind tour of their Retail channels. PlayStation games and consoles are sold in many different types of stores – big to small, electronics to general, malls to street kiosks – and each targets a slightly different consumer. PlayStation takes pride in making the buying experience easy and interactive, with clear descriptions of games and in-store staff properly versed on the eccentricities of all game features and sales data.

The team analyzing the PlayStation shelf with one of the Sony promoters

The team analyzing the PlayStation shelf with one of the Sony promoters

Besides just observations, we conducted many interviews with all levels of stakeholders. We chatted with store managers, Sony promoters and customers to gauge what the shopping experience really felt like and where the pain points lay. With the help of our trusty translator/guru/promoter guides Henrique and Eduardo, we got a rich understanding of the market and heard many salient insights (many of which complemented and reinforced others).

In addition to in-store visits and meetings, we also held a night of focus groups and gamer observations to dive deeper into our target market. It was fascinating to hear from Brazilian gamers and see their passion for PlayStation in person.

Focus Group of PlayStation gamers

Focus Group of PlayStation gamers

Gamer Observations with live PlayStation

Gamer Observations with live PlayStation

PlayStation loves Brazil and Brazil loves PlayStation! (L to R: Leo Zuppiroli - our fearless in-country leader; Amanda Ogus; Heber - fanatic PlayStation gamer; Andrew Hill)

PlayStation loves Brazil and Brazil loves PlayStation! (L to R: Leo Zuppiroli – our fearless in-country leader; Amanda Ogus; Heber – fanatic PlayStation gamer; Andrew Hill)

Of course, no Haas project would be complete without a PFPS post-it map, and we did plenty pulling together our final deliverable!

Clustering and name for our final report

Clustering and name for our final report

 Playing Hard

As the team lucky enough to work with PlayStation, we found that play was very important in all elements of our work. Sony Brazil’s team does a great job of mirroring the passion for the company and the product. Everyone in the office was ready to answer any and all questions we had on the interface, favorite games and other technicalities of gaming that some of our team had little to no experience in (cough Amanda and Caitlyn). Therefore, a big part of getting up to speed for us was testing out the games!

Drew, Caitlyn, and Amanda working hard to get up to speed on their product offering

Drew, Caitlyn, and Amanda working hard to get up to speed on their product offering

Of course, being in Brazil, our play was not only limited to our product. Our amazing host, Leo, gave us on a whirlwind tour of the best culture Sao Paulo had to offer! We had our fill of caipirinhas (delicious fruit cocktails usually made with cachaça, a local liquor – the team’s favorite flavor was passion fruit!), coxinhas (fried deliciousness shaped in triangles stuffed with cheese and chicken, usually) and lots of choppe (draft beer).

Leo and the team enjoying caipirinhas and coxinhas at Veloso Bar, one of our favorite places in Sao Paulo

Leo and the team enjoying caipirinhas and coxinhas at Veloso Bar, one of our favorite places in Sao Paulo

We also took time to explore the city by walking to parks, visiting museums and shopping for Havainas, Brazil’s popular sandal maker!

A view from a run through scenic Ibirapuera Park - a hidden oasis in the big city

A view from a run through scenic Ibirapuera Park – a hidden oasis in the big city

We also explored outside of Sao Paulo for a weekend in Rio! Rio was just as great as everyone described – beachy, bustling and colorful. From site-seeing at the Corcovado to enjoying feijoada with some locals (thanks to a fellow business school classmate, Grace, for the intro!), relaxing at the beach to running up the Escaderia Selaron stairs in a brief rain shower, Rio did not disappoint on our last weekend in Brazil.

The amazing Corcovado in person - apparently we weren't the only people interested!

The amazing Corcovado in person – apparently we weren’t the only people interested!

Escadario Selaron stairs – just as beautiful and colorful in person, even on a rainy day

Escadario Selaron stairs – just as beautiful and colorful in person, even on a rainy day

Our combined Haas IBD teams together in Rio!

Our combined Haas IBD teams together in Rio!

Overall, our team had a very enriching and enjoyable three weeks in Brazil, and we thank the IBD staff and our friends at Sony for all they did to make this happen!



Updates from IBD Brazil – Team Geave

“Stunning” Brazil: Update from Team Geave in São Paulo

Alexis Kastrenakes, Jake Qian, Marisa Johnson, and Seungjun Lee


Brazil: the land of samba, churrascarias, and as this Haas IBD team was about to become intimately aware of…the booming aquaculture industry. Despite the country’s expansive coastline and river system, Brazil’s aquaculture sector is still relatively nascent, but growth is expected to exceed the global average for the next five years. Much of the country’s production is tilapia and we were about to get front row seats to see how the sausage (tilapia, that is) gets made.

This is winter?

This is winter?

Our client, Geave, is a São Paulo-based manufacturer of technology equipment solutions for the meat processing industry, and Geave’s leading solution is an electronic stunner for poultry processing. (Don’t worry: their equipment doesn’t actually kill the animal. It actually promotes humane practices as it renders the animal unconscious before the moment of slaughter.) Geave identified a unique opportunity to leverage their food processing technology into the fast-growing aquaculture industry in an effort to diversify their product and customer portfolio. Our project centered on helping the management team understand the aquaculture industry in other markets (Chile, Costa Rica, Norway, and USA), conducting customer, competitor, and partner interviews, and ultimately using these insights to form a recommendation for how Geave should enter the aquaculture market in Brazil. The entire time, and particularly once we conducted customer visits, a huge question loomed in the back of our minds: is the electronic fish stunner, the original focus of our project, really the right solution?

The team traversed Sao Paulo State visiting partners and potential customers

The team traversed Sao Paulo State visiting partners and potential customers

A lighter moment as Team Geave prepares to enter our first fish slaughterhouse

A lighter moment as Team Geave prepares to enter our first first slaughterhouse

We’ve spent the majority of our time working with Geave’s three partners: Luiz “The Comedian”, Giancarlo “The Mad Scientist”, and Jimmy “The Gangster.” They don’t necessarily identify with these characters we’ve bestowed on them, but they are truly, wholly, 100% accurate. Luiz is the quintessential salesperson of the group and leads Geave’s client management initiatives. Giancarlo is the innovator and inventor who has a penchant for engineering and vintage calculators – he even owns a functioning computer from 1968. Jimmy joined the team earlier in 2015 with an engineering background and experience working for SABESP, the water and sewage provider, for nearly two decades. (Check out the picture below and you’ll understand his moniker.) We worked closely with the management team to understand Geave’s strengths, legacy, and vision for future growth.

Jimmy "The Gangster" stops the van so he can test out his new knife on some unsuspecting sugar cane

Jimmy “The Gangster” stops the van so he can test out his new knife on some unsuspecting sugar cane

Our Geave clients: Jimmy, Luiz, and Giancarlo. We found a California taqueria!

Our Geave clients: Jimmy, Luiz, and Giancarlo. We found a California taqueria!

Week 1:

After a nine hour overnight bus (which was surprisingly quite pleasant), we found ourselves in Santa Fé do Sol, the heart of Brazil’s burgeoning tilapia industry at the westernmost point of São Paulo State. We visited fish farms, fish genetics establishments, feed plants, and facilities that processed over 15 tons of live tilapia per day. During our three-day visit, we had the opportunity to gather vast data about customer pain points, farming and slaughter processes, and vendor relationships. We also went on a lot of boat rides around the fish cages, observing feeding, vaccination, grading, and harvesting processes. Some of us were disappointed that there were no anaconda sightings. Others were okay with it.

Alexis observes fish eggs hatching in a genetics nursery

Alexis observes fish eggs hatching in a genetics nursery

The team visits a fish farm in Santa Fe do Sul

The team visits a fish farm in Santa Fe do Sul

Collecting juvenile fish to put in the river cages is a time-intensive process

Collecting juvenile fish to put in the river cages is a time-intensive process

Bringing a new meaning to "farm to table": we observed the fish from hatchey to slaughterhouse at Zippy Alimentos, then ate them in fried form later  that evening

Bringing a new meaning to “farm to table”: we observed the fish from hatchery to slaughterhouse at Zippy Alimentos, then ate them in fried form later that evening

Week 2:

After documenting, discussing, and analyzing some of our Week 1 observations, we spent two days in Pirassununga and Franca, where we visited a larger aquaculture company and met with one of Geave’s software partners. During the partner meeting, we conducted a design thinking session to brainstorm the types of hardware/software products to bring to market. Should they target the handful of larger players that are vertically integrated to cover the entire value chain, or focus on the more numerous but lower-budget small-to-medium players?  Should they create technology solutions for fish processing, or design for the fragmented and less sophisticated fish farming industry? What customer pain points should the hardware/software solution address? What would customers be willing or able to pay? Our half-day session generated insights that allowed us to draft a target product portfolio addressing the burgeoning fish farming industry.


Conducting a design thinking session with Geave’s software partner



Celebratory photo op with our clients and their partners

Celebratory photo op with our clients and their partners

Another day, another fish farm. The view ain't bad...

Another day, another fish farm. The view ain’t bad…

Week 3:

In our last week, we synthesized all of the data points we had gathered and worked to build a business plan for Geave. We brought together all of our stateside background research, customer interviews and observations, and output from our design thinking sessions. Using our toolkit of strategy frameworks, we developed a concrete recommendation on who (small to medium fish farmers), what (solutions to reduce Feed costs and automate the Feeding process — leaving the stunner for later) and where (start with the Santa Fé do Sul area) Geave should focus their market entry. After a successful presentation to our client, Luiz even countered with a response presentation, animating how we destroyed his dreams of producing fish stunning equipment in the short-term, but that our recommendations would allow Geave to pursue an alternative, more strategic direction.


Our trip wasn’t all fried fish skins, rubber boots, and long hours at the office. We managed to sneak away to Rio de Janeiro for a weekend with Team Sony to get a taste of the Brazilian beach lifestyle. We ate feijoada, visited Christ the Redeemer, pretended to be locals on Ipanema Beach, and sampled all of the caipirinhas and blended juice.

Teams Geave and Sony enjoy the sunset at Ipanema Beach

Teams Geave and Sony enjoy the sunset at Ipanema Beach

After three weeks in Brazil, we feel we have seen a side of this country we would have never imagined if we simply visited as tourists. Geave and the people of Brazil made us feel so welcome and we feel so lucky to have had this experience. Thankfully our Brazilian visas are valid for the next ten years, so we will definitely be back. Rio Olympics 2016?

Praying for a swift return to Brazil

Praying for a swift return to Brazil

Updates from EWMBA IBD – Team KIDU in Brazil

Renata Bell, Milan Lee, Roger Pai, and Paul Roberts are part-time Berkeley-Haas MBA students who had the opportunity to advise KIDU, a Brazilian Education Technology startup in Sao Paulo, on potential go-to-market strategies. Combining their diverse professional experiences, the four MBA team members proposed a solid recommendation for KIDU, through insights generated from seven weeks of interview, research, and design thinking.

Despite lost luggage and sleep deprivation, our first day in Brazil was amazing. We went straight to the market to sample the food and coffee, and were immediately welcomed by the warm Brazilian helpfulness. Before the trip, we had been warned of robbery, violence, and kidnappings in the surrounding São Paulo area, but that was not our reality. Although our hotel and KIDU office were in a nice neighborhood, we never had any trouble venturing out of the neighborhood.


Our first meeting with KIDU over delicious Brazilian style pizza

We were greeted by our hosts on the first evening. They were incredibly nice people and took every opportunity to share their favorite places to go and best places to eat with us. Brazilians love their food, and Paulistanos (San Paulo residents) regularly flock to their favorite restaurants. On the subsequent work days, we had the opportunity to meet the rest of the KIDU staff and interviewed them regarding their teaching experiences in Brazil. The KIDU staff had an infectious enthusiasm for life and teaching that we’ve never seen before.


Meeting with other KIDU staff and teachers

During our first week, our hosts arranged a series of K-12 school visits and cultural activities for us. One of the most impactful experiences was when we visited Jardim Angela, located near São Paulo.  During the 90’s, this area was considered one of the most dangerous places in the world by the United Nations.  The area is much safer now and currently has 400,000 residents. We met up with our NGO contact at A Banca who generously showed us around the favela. Our impromptu interviews with a group elementary school aged students, who were playing soccer barefoot, allowed us to realize how the underprivileged kids share the same curiosity as kids coming from better socio-economic background.


Kids at Jardim Angela sharing their stories with a KIDU staff; the favela is in the background 


The Haas team with NGO A Banca


Another cultural visit: Haas team at one of the Sao Paulo stadiums

In the weekend between our two-week project engagement, we were fortunate to visit Rio de Janeiro for sightseeing. Coincidentally our trip aligned with the World Cup final between Argentina and Germany that was being played in Rio. The whole scene was chaotically filled with Argentinean fans chanting the rivalry song, Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising”.  We almost lost one of our team members to a group of Argentinians; as we were leaving the restaurant after a dinner, Roger was hoisted above the Argentinian fans to be transported to the next bar for party. Despite the craziness, the fans released Roger, and we were able to proceed with the rest of the itinerary to visit Lapa (the nightlife district), Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana beach.


View from Sugar Loaf Mountain at sunset

The second week was intensive as the Haas team worked in “Brazilian hours” to converge all insights and finalize project recommendation. Brazilians generally work long hours and dinner often takes place around 9pm. The Brazilian stereotype for their love of beef is no exaggeration, but they also have excellent seafood, cheese, finger food, and juices. It is typical to have coffee after lunch and sometimes after dinner; however coffee is usually in the form of an espresso shot rather than the large cup of coffee that Americans are used to.  We enjoyed fresh squeezed juices every opportunity we got—our very favorite was the superfood Acai.


Delicious meal of Bahia (South of Brazil) cuisine


Haas team working on a late night to prepare for final presentation

On a final closing note: The four Haas team members were from different cohorts, classes, and backgrounds that interacted mainly only over the phone prior to this trip. Being thrown together day-and-night for two weeks is a crash course in learning how to compromise and work effectively together. We each quickly learned to be patient with each other’s eccentricities but also discovered new things about each other that brought us closer together. We ended this trip genuinely caring for each other not only as classmates, but close friends who experienced a unique experience together.


Updates from IBD Brazil – Surfing the Waves and the Web

Spring 2014 IBD teammates Catherine Andresen, Carlo Cubeddu, Dan Goldman, and Juhie Tamboli are examining internet use in Brazil.

Our team got lucky. We got to spend three weeks traveling around Brazil studying the industry and the culture. We spent the first week getting to know the sprawling city of São Paulo, the second gazing at dramatic scenery in Rio de Janeiro, and the third walking on the beaches in Fortaleza in the Northeast region of Brazil.

Our time in São Paulo was marked by protests, steaks, and caipirinhas. Leading up to the World Cup (starting a mere week after our departure) we’ve witnessed a palpable frustration among Brazilians. Everyone we spoke with had something to say about corruption in government and lack of preparation for the World Cup.

brazil1Mercado Municipal, São Paulo

Getting around the city proved time consuming while we attempted to dodge protests and manage traffic given a bus driver strike. We decided the best way to deal with traffic stress was dining at a churrascaria, Brazilian steakhouse, with a caipirinha in hand and a couple of local beers. We were told to drink in the culture, right?

brazil2Varanda Steakhouse, Sao Paulo

Immediately upon arriving in Rio, we fell in love: the dramatic hills, white sandy beaches, and beautiful people are even more stunning in person. While in Rio, we visited a favela (Brazilian shanty) called Rocinha. No guidebook told us to seek out Rochina, but our experience there was unparalleled. We met with a man who grew up in the favela that was now giving back to his community by delivering high quality internet through fiber optic cables. He told us how he taught himself the technology, began providing internet stolen from a large telecom company, then grew large enough to obtain a license to provide internet legally. His vision is to provide high quality internet to all of Rocinha then expand to other favelas in Rio.

brazil3NetRocinha ISP, Favela Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro

Another highlight of our project had a very different backdrop. We shared a bottle of wine at the home of one our idols – the man who literally wrote the book “The Internet in Brazil”. We chatted about what we’ve learned and our investigation hypothesis while gazing out his window overlooking the Copacabana Beach. Between meeting industry experts like the two mentioned, we were able to see the city from above at Pão de Açúcar and at the foot of the Corcovado.

brazil4Pão de Açúcar, Rio de Janeiro

brazil5Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro

From Rio, we headed North to a coastal city called Fortaleza. We spent our first day 4-wheeling over sand-dunes and drinking from coconuts with our toes in the warm Atlantic waters.

brazil6Morro Branco Beach, Fortaleza

One of the most rewarding aspects of our project entailed interviewing average Brazilians about their internet experience. During one such interview our new friend and interviewee Wellington, gave us a tour of his town. He brought us to the municipal library and church in the middle of town and introduced us to community volunteers preparing a feast for the whole town for a festival that evening. We sadly had to decline the invitation to attend, yet not before taking pictures with about half of the locals.

brazil7Municipal Library, Itaitinga, Fortaleza

brazil8Sant’Antonio Church, Itaitinga, Fortaleza

Our trip in country gave us a much richer understanding of a topic we’d researched from Berkeley for months. Learning from industry experts and talking to a wide mix of Brazilian internet users gave our project a depth well beyond the data. Our eagerness to truly understand the telecommunications market grew with each passing day, bringing a new meaning to our work.


Updates from IBD Brazil – The “Brazil Brothers” in Curitiba

Somit Guha, Sandeep Pahuja, Suneal Rao, and Jesse Silberberg are full-time MBA students working on a Spring 2014 International Business Development project in Brazil.

Team name:  Brazil Brothers


 “It’s a family company.” That was how various advisors had described our IBD client to us, but we did not really understand what it meant until walking into the company’s suburban headquarters, our home for the next three weeks. If there is one thing that stands out from our experience in Brazil, it is that we were treated members of the company family. It began with our main client counterpart dedicating her entire Sunday to pick us up at the airport and show us around town, extended through open and honest conversations with senior management about the organization’s strengths and opportunities for improvement, and culminated with an unforgettable dinner with the CEO at the Italian restaurant where he is a regular and treated like family by the chef/owner. (And did we mention the personalized futbol jerseys the client gave us on our last day?) We may have provided our client with deep insights into product opportunities in foreign markets (the focus of our work), but learned just as much from them about how to integrate foreigners into a new company and new culture.

Our time in Brazil began with a mini reunion, with teammates arriving separately in Curitiba, a town about one hour south of Sao Paulo by flight. After a few weeks apart, we got to work immediately prepare for our Day 1 presentation with our client sponsors and the CEO of the company. It was a late night, but we walked into the office excited to share what we had learned over four months of work in the US.

nutrimental2The Brazilian Brothers working late to get ready for day 1

Our client wanted to learn how it might enter the US market, and understand the implications of doing so would for the company. Having focused most of our energy in the US on market attractiveness, we shifted gears upon arriving in country to better understand the company’s capabilities. We were provided with access to individuals across all functions of the organization and their honesty about the company helped us form an objective opinion about the company’s capabilities, which management found extremely helpful.  We even got to tour their factory to see how they produced their products.

nutrimental3Getting ready to tour the plant!

In addition to getting to know the company, we visited stores to understand how the CPG and retail industries are different in the US and Brazil. We were struck by the how different the aisles were, particularly the limited variety of brands in Brazil compared to the US. This fieldwork gave us a view into how the company operates in its own backyard, which was crucial to understanding how it might be able to compete in a new market.

After two weeks in country, we shared our findings with the founder (and current owner) of the company, the CEO, and our primary project sponsors. Our presentation focused on sharing our findings from the US market and discussing our observations of the organization’s operations in Brazil. In what turned into more of a conversation than a presentation, we helped the company better understand a potential US entry in the context of other priorities, and were perhaps most happy with the resulting honest dialogue amongst the management team.


Beyond the analysis we conducted, the owner asked each of us how much we personally believed in the idea of a US entry, and listened intently as we each shared our individual positions on whether we would take the venture to the US.  He also asked us to present our findings again to his daughter, which again brought us into the extended company family. Overall, the experience taught us a ton about how to run a company at the highest levels.

We also got to know our clients outside of the office. Our main client drove us between the suburb’s five lunch spots, where we quickly became regulars and learned the joy of the two-hour Brazilian lunch. At the end of the project, the CEO took us out for dinner at a phenomenal Italian restaurant as a thank you for our work. It was Italian dining at its finest, where the chef brings incredible food to your table and insults you as a demonstration of how much he cares about you. When a board member of the company asked for a macchiato instead of the standard espresso (requiring the simple addition of a dollop of milk), the chef responded that he could make a macchiato, but had neither the time or desire to do so. He wisely ordered the espresso instead.


The cultural experience:

Two of our team members arrived four days early to experience Sao Paulo before starting our project in Curitiba. Staying in one of the more vibrant parts of the city, Vila Madalena, they experienced Sampa’s vibrant night life, cultural attractions, and expansive mass transit system. While they managed to not to make it to an of the city’s famous Churrhascaria’s, they did get a taste for Brazilian hospitality from the locals, which was only surpassed by the actions of the client.

Once in Curitiba, we learned what it means to be in a World Cup host city weeks before the games begin. Incomplete construction on the roads caused a tremendous amount of traffic, internet wires cut by accident left us sans wifi in the hotel at certain points, and our daily walk took us over ever-changing plots of dirt and grass that used to be sidewalks (and hopefully will be again soon). In spite of this, we were able to get everywhere we needed to go and in the end got a great feel for the region.

Local highlights included a night at a Brazilian club soccer match with our main client and her husband (pictured)! Curitiba was able to grab one point in the standings by tying the score with a second half score (or an equalizer as our English teammate might say).

nutrimental6We clearly understand futbol and are not watching the game awkwardly

The Oscar Niemeyer Museum, named for the world-renowned architect and the individual responsible for designing Brasilia, the Brazilian capital, provided both brilliant artchitecture and “unique” portraits (see below).



We also went to the Botanical gardens and experienced their brilliant night life, meeting many interesting “Curitibanos” (Curitiba residents) along the way.

nutrimental9Curitiba Botanical Gardens

On our second weekend in Brazil, we went to Foz de Iguaçu to see one of the most beautiful sights in the world. We visited the waterfalls on both sides of the Brazilian-Argentinian border.

nutrimental10Falls from the Brazilian side

nutrimental11Falls from the Argentina side

nutrimental12The Brothers before a quick dip in the falls!

We also met a gentleman who claimed to be a comedian on a Brazilian TV show that was expanding beyond Brazil into five countries abroad. You can judge if he is who he says he is:



All in all we had a great time in Brazil, both professional and personally. We head back to the US and United Kingdom for summer internships knowing that we were able to contribute to our IBD organization as well as grow personally. We hope that the class of 2016 will be lucky enough to have opportunity to work with our organization again next year for IBD, and join our extended Brazilian family.

Team São Paulo!

EWMBA IBD “São Paulo” is Archana Prasad, Sanat Kamal Bahl, Sireesh Potireddy, and Eileen Treanor. The group was paired with a public Brazilian Software Company to help with an M&A project.  We were based in São Paulo for the two weeks.

Bon gia, Bon gia! First there were four, then there were three and at the last-minute due to the unfortunate events at SFO there were nearly two.  The Team lost Archana to unfortunate Visa issues, meaning she wasn’t able to travel to Brazil and Sanat was delayed with the events at SFO, but thankfully made it in time for Team São Paulo’s first day and presentation to the CFO and direct reports.


The presentation went well even when the CFO asked us to do additional analysis and provide an updated presentation within 30 mins. It was interesting exploring the office, work environment, and culture.  They work long hours here, and there are banks of coffee machines to keep everybody going. Our client didn’t have a cafeteria so everyday we got to sample a different flavor of local Brazilian cuisine.  What was surprising was the availability of Japanese Cuisine in São Paulo, apparently the largest Japanese community outside of Japan is based here, which explained the availability of really high quality Japanese food.

That evening we took a walk along the famed Paulista Avenue, it feels like the center of  São Paulo, a lively Avenue bristling with shops, restaurants, high-rise office buildings, and locals.  One high-rise building was completely covered in a neon version of the Brazilian Flag.

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Our second day in São Paulo coincided with the city’s national holiday, July 9th, the anniversary of the Constitutionalist Revolution, where there was a large parade of military and police vehicles in the main park in the city that went on for a couple of hours, it was really exciting to see and catch a glimpse of the locals relaxing and enjoying themselves.

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We also got to see another side of Brazilian life when a union protest was scheduled in downtown São Paulo during our first week.  Recent protests had turned violent so our client recommended we work from our hotel, we caught a glimpse of the protests, which had an almost parade like atmosphere, and thankfully the biggest disruption was to rush hour traffic.


The middle weekend we took a well earned break and the team split up into two groups, Eileen went to Iguazu Falls while the others headed to Rio de Janeiro for the weekend.  Iguazu was truly amazing and a recommended stop for anyone visiting Brazil.  It is truly one of the natural wonders of the world.  Rio was stunningly beautiful with phenomenal views from the top of the Corocovado and the Sugar Loaf.

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After our weekend of adventuring it was back to São Paulo for our last week, we had our big final presentation to the CFO on Friday and it was time to start putting everything together, although there were some late nights we took a break to catch a local soccer derby match where the winners would be crowned Copa Sudamerica, even the atmosphere on the way to the stadium was electric as these two titans of Latin American soccer prepared to face each other.  The famed Pacembu was the venue for the game, it was truly an amazing and thoroughly enjoyable experience.  We had never seen such loyal and enthusiastic support and when Corinthians won in their home ground the stadium erupted in a blaze of fireworks.

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Back to work, and with only two days left the team was burning the midnight oil to get the presentation ready for the CFO on Friday afternoon.

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Nothing could rattle this Berkeley team, even when the client asked us to start the presentation early, we were ready.  Job done, and our IBD experience is almost over, such a fun and unique experience.  Time to get back to reality.

Haas Emerging Initiatives: Dar Um Jeito in Brasil

Our IBD team – Anand Lakhotia, Kartik Shah and Raju Kankipati – is working with Berkeley-Haas emerging initiatives to explore digital opportunities for Haas in business education. Our project started with a global macroeconomic analysis to identify the right initial target market – which came out to be Brazil. It then continued into an in-depth market research in Berkeley, Sao Paulo and Rio Di Janeiro to understand the business education landscape in Brazil and explore the opportunities for Haas there.

Dar Um Jeito: A popular slang in Brazil which means “Find a way to get things done”

Stepping in

Our team arrived in Sao Paulo separately. Raju arrived on 6th July and two other team members – Anand & Kartik arrived on 5th July hoping to do some sightseeing. But alas, there was no sightseeing on day 1. We spent an entire day on getting a prepaid sim card using our passport as an id proof. When we finally found a suitable store, it took us 2 hours to get the documentation done. We had to use google translate on the operator’s computer throughout our entire conversation as she didn’t speak a word of English. Dar Um Jeito!

That first day made us wonder if things would continue to be so slow without the support structure of an on-site client that many other IBD teams had. But we also learnt a few things there. We saw how incredibly helpful the people in Brazil were. We also developed a keen eye of spotting people who could speak some English in the crowd. Moreover, we got a good practice of the dumb charades game we used to play as kids

Our weekend went smoother after that and it included watching a soccer game between Sao Paulo and Santos sitting in the cheapest seats next to some of the craziest soccer fans in the world (Did someone say risk level 5?)


Sao Paulo vs Santos FC @ Estadio Morumbi


We had an action packed week lined up before us where we spoke to 25 people through interviews and focus groups. These meetings had to be conducted in the interviewee’s premises the farthest ends of the city, which ensured that we were always on the run.

To make things more interesting, Tuesday was a public holiday in Sao Paulo and most people were on a vacation. But we still managed to get enough candidates for a focus group that day. And since we had no private office space, we did it in one of the participant’s office space at Itau Bank. Dar Um Jeito!

Focus Group @ Bain

Focus Group @ Bain

Conducted interviews with students, alums, recruiters, industry experts in various settings

Conducted interviews with students, alums, recruiters, industry experts in various settings

The data we got from our week 1 of market research was a setback to us. We realized that our initial hypothesis had no market in Brazil. We needed to find a new direction and find it fast. We had a few ideas but just 1 week of field work left to be done in Rio. Oh, we had a week in Rio coming up!


Rio  is beautiful! Beaches, mountains, restaurants, bars – it’s a paradise.

At the end of week 1, the project seemed to have gone down the cliff and that’s what we did in Rio too.  Jump off the cliff.

No, seriously!

Ok, we were tied to a hang glider.

Hang gliding in Rio

Hang gliding in Rio

After a fun weekend in Rio, we went back to work. Only, this time the interviews started Sunday evening. We were eager to validate some of the ideas we had with the alums, recruiters, students, professors and experts that we were meeting. Slowly, the ideas began to take shape and we were able to see some real interest in our new hypothesis from the key stakeholders. We have so far met 22 people here in Rio through interviews and focus groups.

Today, as we prepare our final presentation we feel very confident in our recommendations and analysis. We feel much better than what we felt a week ago and have come a long way during our two weeks here in Brazil.

Dar Um Jeito!

Disrupting the Education Technology Industry in Brazil

Team Starline is in Belo Horizonte, Brazil looking to help our client, Starline Tecnologia, an education tech start-up, evaluate the opportunities in the Brazilian Education B2C market and define an appropriate business model for entry.

As our project is winding down and we work on our final deliverables we have had a chance to reflect on our wonderful experience in Brazil thus far. We spent the first weekend in Rio, where we visited with Team Funio, enjoyed the picturesque scenery and lively nightlife, and made sure that before we left we became experts in Samba.

View from Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf), Rio de Janeiro


Team Starline enjoying Pão de Açúcar, Rio de Janeiro


Enjoying Samba at Carioca de Gema in Lapa, Rio de Janeiro


Our second weekend we stayed in Belo Horizonte; the holiday weekend promised a fun-filled two days. We took in an outdoor music festival, experienced the Mercado Central where we not only purchased souvenirs like Cachaça and Havaiana flip-flops, but also enjoyed sipping beers squeezed between locals that heckled every time someone wearing an opposing team’s soccer jersey walked by. We also had a chance to visit Ouro Preto, the picturesque former capital of Brazil from when the Portuguese reigned, that is surrounded by gold mines.

Sipping beers in the crowded bar at Mercado Central, Belo HorizonteImage

 Amy and Stephanie with our Host/Company Liaison, Marcelo, Ouro Preto


Our project has come together very well in the last two weeks. While we had completed a lot of market research at home in Berkeley, we were lacking in ethnographic data and really wanted to get a deep and thorough understanding of what the day-to-day teaching life was like for both private and public secondary school teachers, our potential consumer targets. Thus, our first week consisted of visits to public and private schools.

Our first school visit was to Milton Campos, a public high school. In many ways it reminded us more of a prison—metal gates and high walls that are covered in graffiti surround the school.

Entrance to Milton Campos


We were greeted by the Assistant Principal who gave us a tour of the school, which consisted mainly of dark halls and classrooms filled with nothing but old desks and a chalkboard.  

Typical classroom at Milton CamposImage

Vivek shows some Haas love


The library had one computer, which was close to 10 years old and looked as though it had not been turn on or used in years

Ancient computer in the library at Milton Campos


The public school kids were required to wear t-shirts as uniforms and go to school in shifts. At this school the 11th and 12th graders attend school in the mornings from 8-12 and the 10th graders came in the afternoons from 1-5. Others who work during the day attend evening classes from 6-10. We observed a chemistry class where on that day the kids were lucky enough to have a lab that they get access to only once a month. The students were very excited to show us the experiment they were conducting and shouted out the few English words that they knew.

We were told that many of the kids drop out by 10th grade and of the ones who graduate only a few will go on to private universities. The public high school students do not even attempt to apply to public universities, which are considered the elite colleges in Brazil, because they are too hard to get into and the students have not had the resources available to them to compete with private high school students. The irony is that one has attend a private high school, which is very expensive and elite in its own right, in order to be accepted into the free public universities.

Students from the chemistry class we observed


The public school teachers that we spoke to were tired. They spoke to us about teaching more than 1500 students at any given time, and explained that they typically worked at two or three different schools per day in order to make enough money to live on. The school provides them with no resources and often times they have to pay out-of-pocket to provide paper or other materials for their students to use. They show up to work and struggle to connect with their students, frustrated by a lack of pay and the lofty expectations of the school administration. They all spoke of not having the time to track student progress or come up with new lesson plans.

 The next day we visited a private school, Isabela Hendrix, which houses not only grades K-12 but a university as well. Many of the students spend their entire educational upbringing at this school. One girl we met has attended the school since kindergarten and is finishing up her law degree this year. We were given a tour of the facilities by the program director, which included well-lit, clean classrooms with modern computers, projectors and white boards. The school had numerous science labs, kitchens to teach the younger kids how to cook, computer labs containing more than 30 modern computers and university caliber auditoriums. The contrast to the public school is like night and day. 

A computer lab at Isabela Hendrix




We sat in on an English class with graduating seniors. The teacher was excited to have us there and asked that we each sit with small groups of 6-7 students. We proceeded to tell them about ourselves, our project, and discussed what the students like to do on a daily basis. Some of the kids spoke very well, while others were just beginning to learn the basics of English—however, it was clear that these students have been given opportunities and a foundation for success.

 Amy telling the students about Taiwan


Our new friends 


Teachers at this school were much more optimistic. They all emphasized their love of teaching and were clearly much less stressed out. They don’t have to worry about resources for the students as the school covers their expenses– it also does not hurt that they are paid 3-4 times more than public school teachers. They work at only one school and are in charge of somewhere close to 100 students at a given time as opposed to the 1500 students that public school teachers are responsible for. The overall environment leads to both happier students and more satisfied teachers.

With our ethnographic research done, it is now up to Team Starline to come up with a suitable product for the potential B2C market. We will continue to contemplate our recommendations over Caipirinhas, Brazil’s national cocktail. Saúde!