IBD 2016 Crowns Conference Winners!  Team Apsara Takes Home Best Presentation.

Every year at the Berkeley-Haas IBD Conference, the IBD faculty announces student team winners in a variety of categories to celebrate another successful year of IBD spring and summer courses.  This year’s IBD team winners were:

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After reviewing six IBD team presentations delivered during the Conference, the award of Best IBD Presentation was unanimously awarded to Team Apsara.  Team Apsara traveled to Harare, Zimbabwe, to develop and teach a two-week entrepreneurship program named ACT (Apsara Capital Trust).  The ACT program was directed to young Zimbabweans who are passionate about social change in a country that faces challenging economic and political conditions.  This was the fourth IBD team to work with Apsara, and the team’s main project objective was to develop curriculum for an online and in-person course for ACT’s Intensive Entrepreneurship Program.   During two weeks of teaching, Team Apsara worked with 21 students daily on design thinking, prototyping, brainstorming, constructing empathy maps, and developing interviewing skills.  At the end of their in-country experience, the IBD team delivered more than course materials. They also recommended how to create an ACT Ecosystem whereby students could share and help each other with entrepreneurial ideas.  In addition, the IBD team suggested possible revenue streams to help ACT become more sustainable.  IBD team member Julian Garzon shared this conclusion from his project experience: “We were impressed to find great people with great ideas everywhere, but the resources are not for them all the time.  It makes us think how privileged we are, and how we should be committed to give back and contribute to the community because these great people should have a shot to flourish with their business ideas. Finally, we can’t underestimate the power of bringing people together who are motivated and driven to work hard and achieve their dreams”.

To read Team Apsara’s blog click here.

Ready, Set, Innovate! Autodesk Tournament Tests Students’ Left and Right Brains

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“You’ve just described the Holy Grail for designers…but how will you crack it open?” Next!

 “Great idea. In fact, it’s so great we’re already doing it.” Next!

 “You’re really onto something. Now be like James Cameron—make us believe it’s the next Titanic.” Go!

It was like American Idol for elevator pitches as about 45 students in Haas’ Design, Innovation & Strategy Club (DISC) raced against the clock—and each other—to impress some of Autodesk’s most strategic thinkers at the club’s first innovation tournament March 9 in San Francisco. They sketched teddy bears, scribbled flow charts, and even flapped their arms and shrieked like hawks as they wrestled with the question: How can Autodesk use the cloud and the crowd to help far-flung teams work better together?

Teams of students, paired with “innovation sages” from leading design firms, had just 30 seconds for each pitch, but could return for multiple rounds. Each time, the judges prodded them to go further, pulling out the most promising nuggets and displaying their ratings on screens to stoke the fires of competition.

“We’re hard to impress. We think about this stuff all the time, we hear a lot of new ideas, and they’re under pressure to do it fast,” said judge Mark Davis, Autodesk’s senior director of user experience, midway through the tournament. “But things are popping up—new ideas, new ways of looking at things.”

The competition was part of the daylong event Life in 4D: Discover, Define, Design, Develop, held at Autodesk’s San Francisco Gallery and organized by DISC to give students inspiration and practice with the process of innovation.

The tournament format was developed by InnoCoop, a company formed by Haas visiting scholars from Finland’s University of Oulu, who credited Haas Adjunct Professor Henry Chesbrough’s work on open innovation and Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman for inspiration. “We were looking for a way to get people excited about being innovative in short sessions, and to turn it into a game,” said PhD student Petri Morko, who has run more than a dozen tournaments in Finland with fellow visiting PhD students Mikko Jarvilehto and Tomi Huttula.

Corinna Kester, MBA12, said her team used techniques from Beckman’s Problem Finding, Problem Solving course as they hashed out their concept, which won high praise from judges. “The ideas of converging and diverging played out as we went through the process,” she said. “We get this in the curriculum, but we also need to practice it on real-world problems to get better.”

This mashup of cultures, methods, and competition led to quite a few “a-ha” moments. Jill Schweitzer, MBA13, pitched a concept for a collaborative voice- and touch-controlled system for designers to discuss and manipulate their work, catching the attention of judge Karen Brewer, Autodesk’s vice president of marketing. “We thought it was a big idea, so congratulations,” Brewer said.

Schweitzer said the judges’ “what if” questions spurred her group on. “Pitching to the judges multiple times and within such a condensed timeframe was an interesting experience—we had to make quick changes and produce concise, illustrative explanations of our idea without much prep time,” she said. “The initial idea rapidly transformed into something far more robust and colorful than the original. Our team really enjoyed thinking big and further into the future.”

Ultimately, it was the team that took to heart the advice about James Cameron—given by Autodesk Director of Strategic Initiatives Jonathan Knowles—that won over the crowd and the judges.

Running out of time to create a visual aid, they decided to act out their concept for an application called Photohawk, which would crowdsource 3D models. Gabe Cohen, MBA 12, played the part of a designer who submitted the request to “hawk” Evan Atherton, an engineering student who flapped enthusiastically as he collected images from Cohen’s social network: full-time student Eileen Chang, MBA 12; evening-and-weekend student Deepti Gottipati, MBA 13, and coaches Cheryn Flanagan of Sequence and Adam Menter of Autodesk. 

For their performance, the group took home the tournament’s Oscar—actually Autodesk’s Oscar-winning special effects software. Perhaps more valuable was the praise from the hard-to-impress judges: Knowles even tweeted a photo of the winners along with the post, “I have a new positive perspective on MBAs after being a judge @BerkeleyHaas Innovation Tournament today.”