Getting started

To get a sense of the evolution of our project, one could start with the name of our team. Initially, we – Theo, Vaisakh, Josh, Asli, and myself (Cameron) – were assigned to groupelephant.com, a South African for-profit company with a  “three-zone” business model consisting of a for-profit software business as well as non-profit and impact investing activities around wildlife conservation and poverty alleviation. The client was frustrated that all of the good work it had done for conserving elephants and rhinos had gone nearly unmentioned in the press, and hired us to turn that around.

After a semester in Berkeley figuring out how to market this unique business model to a corporate audience in the U.S., we decided to refocus our efforts on just the non-profit entity of groupelephant.com, ERP – short for Elephants, Rhinos, and People. We were fortunate to work with Quintin Smith, a Haas alum himself, who embodied the passion and entrepreneurial spirit we came to recognize in all of ERP and groupelephant.com.

On The road!

The highlight of our three-week trip was without a doubt heading down two days after we arrived to a wildlife reserve in the Eastern Cape. The reserve had recently suffered a tragic rhino poaching, and we were there to discuss steps the reserve could take to protect the rest of its herd. These conversations dovetailed nicely with one of our final deliverables, developing an Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign for a technology-driven rhino security solution.

Every good Indiegogo campaign has a short video to go along with it. So we had to take to the streets – er, the dusty trails – of the reserve to start shooting some film.

To get the best lighting, we woke up at the crack of dawn for some sunrise safaris…

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

Our director and team lead, Theo, with his cinematographer Rob (of ERP)

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…and went back for round two as the sun set:

 

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With this trip, we really took mixing business and pleasure to new heights – we struggled to think of another time when we’d be holding team meetings around a campfire, or conducting research from the back of a safari truck.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Enjoying my fifteen minutes (seconds?) of fame as a stand-in for our interviewees.

Our crew hard at work

Our crew hard at work

As much as we loved our time on the reserve, eventually, we had to pack our bags and say goodbye.

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

Me, Josh, and Vaisakh on a final ride with our German-Spanish-French tour guide Pablo

A weekend retreat

Fortunately for us, the Quintinator was not about to let us go back to Pretoria quite yet. Instead, he and the rest of the crew took us up to Modumela, a ranch several hours north of the city.

After several days of filming and focusing exclusively on our Indiegogo campaign, we needed to step back for a moment to think through our project’s broader objectives.

Hard at work, clearly

Hard at work, clearly

But it was the weekend, and we made sure to relax:

Learning new hobbies

Learning new hobbies

Grilling full chickens!

Grilling full chickens!

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

Closing down the campfire at 2? 3am?

The real work begins

When we got back to Pretoria, we buckled down in the office and got back to work. We had a gargantuan task ahead of us: taking a semester’s worth of research, conversations, and observations and coming up with a succinct yet comprehensive branding for this burgeoning non-profit. Very quickly, we realized that this work was more than just a marketing exercise; it was getting to the heart of ERP’s strategic first, figuring out how to communicate it second.

Like any good first-year Haas students, we got our PFPS on:

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The Windy City

Despite being in crunch time, we managed to find time to get away, just the five of us – the dream team. We spent the weekend in beautiful Cape Town, taking a much needed break from everything branding, marketing, and frameworks.

Asli making some new friends

Asli making some new friends

 

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Blown away by Table Mountain!

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Elephants, rhinos…and sea lions?

Wrapping up

In the end, we delivered a comprehensive branding and marketing action plan for our client. This final report provided some realistic, actionable recommendations for coordinating ERP’s communication from the inside out.

It wasn’t always the easiest process – we took the liberty of proposing some bold new ideas, and the clients didn’t always pick up what we were putting down, sending us back to the drawing board. This entire experience was undoubtedly a valuable learning process. If anything, we learned that, for all of the immense value of the Haas core curriculum, what works in a business setting isn’t always the most feasible for a young non-profit. We didn’t realize it at the time, but our challenge was adapting what we had learned in Marketing (and in Strategy, Leading People, Leadership Communications…) and adapting it for an untraditional setting. Three weeks and many Post-Its later, we can confidently say that we “cracked the code” on non-profit marketing.

All done!

All done!

As for me, I learned that, when you have the right crew by your side, getting around the South African bush on crutches isn’t so hard. I wasn’t sure what three weeks abroad while unable to walk properly would be like, but with help and support from my awesome team, I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. It was, as Josh would say, truly something special.

The Big Five

The Big Five

Updates from IBD – Team Singapore

Meet the Team:

-Niki Ariyasinghe an Aussie banker/consultant and bitcoin aficionado

-Moe Poonja a techie and DJ from Chicago

-Diego Vidaurre a Chilean banker and part-time magician

-Gavin Abreu a Mexican central banker and salsa dancer

We were all selected for this project given our prior banking experience.

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The Country

When Singapore achieved its independence, in 1965, the country was battling unemployment and serious social and economic problems.  However openness to foreign investment and promoting the creation of new companies helped the country overcome its economic foes and become one of the world’s largest financial hubs.  The result?  Well today Singapore is the third richest country of the world in per capita terms and the World Bank has ranked them the easiest country of the world to do business.

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The Project

Developing a strategy for a large financial institution in Singapore to better engage clients through digital tools allowing them to improve the customer experience. However the project had a catch to it. Instead of one client, we had two clients with two different perspectives and two distinct needs.

*Details of the client and project cannot be fully disclosed due to a signed NDA

The Process

We first started by reviewing the industry.  What are the industry standards and what are the innovations that are threatening to disrupt the industry?  To do this, we focused on the large financial institutions in North America and Europe and startups in Silicon Valley.  After we grew familiar with the industry, we talked to client-facing employees at financial institutions to gain a better understating of the costumers needs along with fintech companies with their latest disruptive innovations.  Armed with this knowledge we flew to Singapore, well equipped to offer emerging trends within the industry.  Once there, we interviewed numerous employees of the company and identified their pains and areas of opportunity.  We ideated (using post-its, of course), identified commonalities and ultimately looked to find efficiencies or enhance the customer or banker’s experience.

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And came up with a list of recommendations that could help them alleviate their pains and embrace digital tools.

The Final Presentation

We set up a final document with these recommendations and only days before our final presentation we learned that instead of presenting to our sponsor (the Head of Products) we were actually going to present our findings to the CEO of one bank and COO of the other large institution.  We worked diligently to prepare the presentation and tailor it so it is relevant despite having two separate stakeholders with two different recommendations.

We had already taken Cort Worthington’s class so we welcomed the opportunity with confidence and rocked the presentation!

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Updates from IBD China – Team Thermo Fisher

IBD Team Thermo Fisher (Ramya Babu, Lisa Becker, Scott Crider, George James) worked with the China division of Thermo Fisher, an American multinational company, on a growth strategy project for its environment / water analysis segment.

Moving Fast

Shanghai is not what we expected it to be. Even George, who had already lived in this city before was surprised by how modern and western Shanghai has become. We stayed in Pudong, aka “Pu-Jersey”, a 45-minute subway ride from the famous skyline of Shanghai. With nearly 25 million in habitants, Shanghai is currently the largest city by population in the world.

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

View of the Lujiazui skyline from The Bund, a large, public walkway in Puxi

The most awe-inspiring thing to behold is the speed at which China is developing. Mega structures that did not exist a few years ago now tower over older buildings. The pace of growth and notion of limitless possibilities in China, and especially in Shanghai, is quite remarkable.

Food to Die For

Upon arrival, we acquainted ourselves with the area around the hotel, home to many expats. The local businesses cater to this population and thus there are many non-Chinese restaurants, with prices not much different from those of the Bay Area.

We sampled many traditional Chinese meals with our Thermo Fisher hosts, including lunches at the company’s business park cafeteria and dinners at Shanghainese restaurants.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher. From left to right: Zheng Xin (Thermo Fisher), George James, Ramya Babu, Scott Crider, Lisa Becker and Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher)

One of our favorite meals was la mian, huge bowls of noodle soup for around 12 RMB (or $2 USD). Other favorites included xiao long bao (soup dumplings), Da Dong’s Peking Duck (Beijing’s most famous dish) and, of course, the local pijiu, Tsingtao.

La mian

La mian

Xiao long bao

Xiao long bao

The People

We encountered a variety of people in the new, cosmopolitan city of Shanghai: cab drivers from the provinces, coworkers from Beijing, and foreigners from every corner of the globe. As different as they are, these people all share something in common – the pursuit of opportunity. From the rich to the poor, Shanghai represents the growth of China and the opportunity that a booming economy can create.

The people we met were very open to meeting foreigners, especially those who are interested in Chinese culture. George fit in well with the locals and made friends with the Chinese who appreciated his interest in Chinese language, arts and history.

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Taking a quick nap on the subway after a long and jolly conversation: George James (left) and Shangainese local (right)

Culture and Business

Interacting with businesses in China was quite eye opening. There were several conflicting characteristics that we observed. The most prominent are embracing proven ideas, struggling to adopt new ideas, and moving fast. As we spoke with our client and their customers, one idea was repeated throughout: the use of best in class practices combed from all over the world are representative of “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”. The sheer thirst for knowledge that has been proven was astounding to observe.

In direct contrast to the assimilation of proven ideas is the struggle to adopt cutting edge ones. We used design-thinking processes that we had previously learned in the Problem Finding, Problem Solving class. Our client struggled to understand the value of diverging from common practices to flush out insights. This was especially interesting given that the client is a large multinational corporation based in the United States.

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

The IBD Team with Thermo Fisher grouping insights from customer interviews. From left to right: Lisa Becker, Lily Lei (Thermo Fisher), and Ramya Babu

We are truly grateful for the hospitality shown by the city of Shanghai, a constantly evolving city that everyone should visit at least once in his or her lifetime.

Updates from IBD Peru and Chile – Team Bocadio Part II

Part II of Spring 2015 IBD Team Bocadio’s adventures working with Bocadio, an innovative, high-quality meal delivery startup in Latin America.

3 – On Getting a Phone

As we settled into our daily routine of data analytics and market sizing, it was clear that communicating with each other, and Diego, would require finding a dataplan. It was through this adventure that Christian and Steven discovered that Inventarte’s complex check-out process was perhaps simply indicative of a cultural difference we had missed: Peruvians enjoy processes. Indeed, as it turns out, securing a phone plan required no less than 12 steps:

The Twelve Labors of Claro

  1. Find the only store in Lima where you can purchase a SIM card for your phone from Claro, one of the major operators in Latin America
  2. Revisit the store a second time, as it is closed on the weekends
  3. Line up for a ticket, and explain purpose of visit in broken Spanish
  4. Realize you need your passport and the little immigration stub to accomplish most things in Peru
  5. Return to hotel to pick up passport
  6. Rush frantically back to the store, as it closes early
  7. Line up for a ticket, realize the person at the desk has changed, and explain again the purpose of visit in broken Spanish
  8. Wait to be called to a customer service counter and get a voucher for a SIM card
  9. Line up at cash register to pay for the SIM card itself
  10. Return to customer service counter to collect SIM card
  11. Line up at automated kiosk to add initial credit to phone
  12. Return to customer service counter, to activate phone
Claro - many phones but only one place to buy a SIM

Claro – many phones but only one place to buy a SIM

In the hotel lobby, Kayo had already secured her own dataplan, and was happily browsing away when Steven and Christian, having triumphed over Claro, returned sweaty and disgusting, but with chests stuck out like proud warriors bringing back in their pockets the spoils of their war. “Actually,” Kayo said, “for me it was very fast. Japanese Guide told me everything I needed to bring.”

On the inside, Christian and Steven wept.

4 – On Our Travels Outside Lima

In Steven and Ben’s absence, Kayo and Christian opted to use their weekend alone to travel outside of the city and see some of the country’s favorite sights. While forewarned by Japanese Guide of the challenges that lay ahead of them, they embarked upon a perilous 8-hour bus and car journey to Nazca, sight of the world-famous Nazca lines. Of course, travelling around the country is much easier today that it would have been in the time of the Nazca people. Thousands of years ago, it would have taken months to get from Nazca to Lima by llama whereas today, thanks to the way people drive, you are lucky to get there at all.

Whatever they may have felt, however, Kayo and Christian had no real choice: humans are hard wired to travel. Indeed, we travel because no matter how content we are at home, we yearn take new tours, buy new souvenirs, introduce ravenous new bacteria to our intestines, learn new words for “explosive diarrhea,” and have all kinds of other unforgettable experiences that make us want to embrace our beds when we finally get home.

Of course, none of this mattered once Christian and Kayo finally found themselves on the tarmac of the Nazca Aerodrome (Motto: “The only way to fly. No really, we mean it, there is nothing for hundreds of miles.”) awaiting their turn in the back of a tiny Cessna, the preferred method of viewing the ancient lines. Thankful that the very hearty breakfast they had enjoyed that morning was helping to keep them warm in the frigid desert, Kayo and Christian listened to the pilot’s instructions as they were strapped into their seats. “Oh and I hope you skipped breakfast this morning,” he concluded, “things can get pretty bumpy.” Christian opened his mouth to make a witty remark, but before he could, the minuscule aircraft shot into the air.

Happiness...

Happiness…

...and a little bit of anxiety -- just a bit

…and a little bit of anxiety — just a bit

Meanwhile in Santiago, Steven and Ben were helping Diego add a real-world lens to his market research. The goal of the visit was to better understand the market conditions and viability for starting a Bocadio branch in Santiago, and begin building relationships with investors and local operators who could one day help grow the business.

Our first day in Santiago, a Haas alumnus, and old friend of Diego, Koichi Arimitsu, had a dinner to welcome Diego, Steven and Ben to Santiago. Koichi shared his experiences as an entrepreneur in Chile, starting one of the first large-scale solar plants in the northern desert. Koichi explained that Santiago’s start-up community is growing quickly, and is heavily supported by a strong government infrastructure. Koichi also complained about the lack of delicious food, despite the wealth of incredible, locally grown ingredients (Chile’s top exports include Wine, Salmon, Avocados, Grapes, Apples, Pears, and Pigs). As Koichi explained, “they’ve got amazing ingredients, but have no idea how to prepare them!” In fact, Chileans avoid “Chilean” cuisine at all costs. What are the two hottest restaurants in town? Peruvian exports: Gaston Acurio’s Le Mar, and Ciro Watanabe’s Osaka.

Diego, Ben, and Steven were excited to hear that the market opportunity in Santiago was prime for a new, high quality, low cost food delivery service – especially one backed Peruvian chefs that could meet the demand of a growing middle-class that lacked in-home help.

Koichi's Texas-sized portion of Pork & Asparagus

Koichi’s Texas-sized portion of Pork & Asparagus

The second day in Santiago, Steven, Ben and Diego had lined up a number of meetings with potential investors, including another solar entrepreneur (Haas ’07), a family office who was responsible for bringing Papa John’s to Chile, and the head of Fundacion Chile (Haas ’06). The first two meetings went incredibly well, each investor indicating that Bocadio would do well in Santiago, and they may be willing to contribute to help fund its expansion.

Diego discussing the Bocadio concept with Haas alum Christian Sjorgen

Diego discussing the Bocadio concept with Haas alum Christian Sjorgen

Steven, Ben and Diego were over the moon with this feedback. Hearing from real investors in the flesh of Bocadio’s market potential helped validate the months of market research they had been conducting on the ground in Berkeley. Further, they began to realize that the idolization of Peruvian cuisine and lack of local flavors was unique to Santiago, and perhaps made it a better market to begin expansion when compared to cities with similar profiles (such as Bogota).

The third day, Diego had arranged a tour of Aramark’s largest food processing facility in Santiago. This plant was responsible for cooking and delivering hundreds of thousands of meals a year to mines scattered across the north and south of Chile. The plant tour would provide Diego a window into a state-of-the-art food production facility, and the techniques required to optimize cooking food & then chilling it for delivery at scale.

Walking through the factory floor, Diego, Ben and Steven got to see first-hand the incredible technology that made this type of food production possible – including a laser-cutting machine that could quickly dice any type of meat into uniform cubes, identical in weight, and a giant skillet that could cook hundreds of pounds of spaghetti with meatballs by simply loading the ingredients. While adding to the future wish-list of equipment, Diego, Ben and Steven were also able to have an insight that could be applied immediately – adopting a bar code scanning system that could trace the origin of each meal, allowing for better insights throughout the supply chain.

Visiting Aramark's Plant

Visiting Aramark’s Plant

Ben and Steven taking advantage of the weekend in Santiago on horseback through the Andes

Ben and Steven taking advantage of the weekend in Santiago on horseback through the Andes

Showing some school spirit

Showing some school spirit

 

Updates from IBD Peru and Chile – Team Bocadio Part I

Berkeley-Haas Full-time MBA students Benjamin Geller, Steven Truong, Christian Kaas and Kayo Inoue worked with Peruvian food delivery startup “Bocadio” to launch the business in Lima, and craft a plan for expansion throughout Latin-America. Bocadio combines technology and gastronomy to provide high-quality meals delivered quickly at a low price-point. Originally our goal was to help Bocadio in its initial month of operation in Lima, while researching opportunities for international expansion. However, upon landing we realized that construction on the kitchen had been delayed. With this impetus, we refocused our project on preparing the Bocadio team for a successful Beta period when the kitchen completed in August, and investigating international expansion in Santiago, with Steven and Ben joining Diego for one week to meet with investors and operators.

1 – On Arriving in Peru

While the team left Berkeley at 4am, it was already night time when we arrived in Lima, excited to begin our IBD adventure with Bocadio, the latest addition to the city’s thriving food scene and the local analog to the Bay Area’s successful Munchery concept.

Making our way through the airport towards baggage collection, Steven saw an excellent opportunity for us to get started on one of the most important parts of our project. “Guys, we need to take a picture for our blog!” If I had even been irritated by tourists’ propensity to photograph themselves in the inane and inconvenient of settings, I can now sympathize that they must simply be collecting material for their IBD deliverable. This picture of us happily holding up foot traffic in-front of the Jorge Chavez International Airport international arrivals’ women’s lavatory can attest to this.

Arrival in Lima

Arrival in Lima

Exhausted by our trip, we were happy to have arrived a day early and to have Sunday off to discover Lima. Our first challenge was an important one, particularly given our project context: where do we eat? TripAdvisor raved about a local joint Haiti Haiti Café that was, rather interestingly, neither Haitian nor really a café. Proud of our first foray into the local culinary scene, we would later tell our client team about Haiti Haiti and how happy we were with our discovery. “This is not a good place to eat,” the team grimaced. Surprisingly, it turns out that hotdoggurl_345 from Skokie, Illinois is a poor assessor of Peruvian cuisine. Who knew?

First lunch in Peru - they love their potatoes

First lunch in Peru – they love their potatoes

Another wonderful meal - we were making a habit of this

Another wonderful meal – we were making a habit of this

While Steven and Christian put their extensive experience with the Spanish language and mime to communicate important things like “beer” or “fork,” Kayo seemed to be faring altogether better with her guidebook, sadly impenetrable for mere mortals, which we came to know affectionately as Japanese Guide.

Japanese Guide, or why Kayo always knew more than we did

Japanese Guide, or why Kayo always knew more than we did

2 – On Meeting Diego

Monday morning was our first meeting with Diego, who came to meet us at our hotel. Diego’s little yellow car shot through Lima traffic like a pinball, with team Bocadio in tow. “Don’t be afraid if I’m driving a little bit crazy, eh,” said Diego, elbowing his way across three lanes of traffic to catch a late turnoff, “it’s just the way you need to do things around here.” Some pink returned to our knuckles as we partly unclenched our grip our Diego’s car seats. Diego’s car would later feature in one of my dreams, with a rocket attached to the back, like a bright yellow Batmobile.

In record time, therefore, we found ourselves at Bocadio’s new office, nested above a little café in the upscale residential neighborhood of San Isidro. We enjoyed meeting so many of the people who – up to now – had only been names on an e-mail chain: Mauricio, Alex, Willy and Laura. Also present on our first day was Coque Ossio, one of Diego’s principal backers and owner of, we have come to suspect, pretty much every restaurant in Peru. Upon finding us setting up shop in a bakery near our hotel, Diego remarked “how do you like the Bonbonnière, it belongs to Coque, you know.” The restaurants at Lima airport? Coque. This celebrity connection greatly entertained us, of course, and Steven enjoyed introducing us everywhere we went as friends of Coque. Often, people would nod enthusiastically, either recognizing the name of one of the country’s great chefs, or thinking Steven was crazy. My money is on the latter.

Diego's yellow car

Diego’s yellow car

We then had the opportunity to sit down with Bocadio’s head chef at Coque’s restaurant across the street, and perform the arduous task of taste-testing potential items for the menu. We were struck by the vibrancy of flavors, and the different uses of potatoes in the dishes – who knew that Peru had over 3,000 varietals! We knew at this point that Bocadio had a dynamite product, which was great to experience first-hand.

Bocadio team member Mauricio helping serve up our first tasting

Bocadio team member Mauricio helping serve up our first tasting

 

Alex Riccio, one of Bocadio's main chefs, and a Munchery alum

Alex Riccio, one of Bocadio’s main chefs, and a Munchery alum

The team working hard

The team working hard

Happy campers pose with Chef Alex

Happy campers pose with Chef Alex

 

But back to Bocadio. One of our first tasks was to accompany Diego to meet Inventarte, his website production team, to review their progress and offer some suggestions for user-centric design based on our extensive experience of the one class Ben took on the subject. One of the main observations we made that day was that the check-out process for new users seemed overly complex, to the point of being potentially off-putting for new customers. In a similar vein, much of this first meeting focused on reducing the complexity of the Bocadio sales funnel, to make the ordering process as pleasant an experience as possible.

Reviewing the progress on the website

Reviewing the progress on the website

At the end of our first day, Diego dropped us off at one of Lima’s best-known Cevicherias, renowned for their modern interpretation of Peru’s ceviche, raw fish seized with lime juice. “The restaurant is great, but not in the best part of town,” Diego said. “Don’t leave this street.” Ben turned around to ask if he would like to join us “Dieg…”

But he was gone.

Like Batman.

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“I’m Batman.”

Stay tuned for part 2 of Team Bocadio’s adventures…

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.

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Conducting a design thinking session with Geave’s software partner

 

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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.

Wrap-Up

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 IBD Tanzania – Team PSI

FTMBA students Mohsin Alvi, Dhiren Belur, Susan Lee, and Rachel Park are completing their Spring 2015 IBD project with Population Services International in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.

Team PSI with our clients Edwin and Madeleine after our final presentation

Team PSI with our clients Edwin and Madeleine after our final presentation

May 28, 2015: A day in the life of Team PSI

Interview with Precision Air: The day started in Dar Es Salaam’s city center, with an interview with two employees of Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest airline.  Our project was about exploring new revenue opportunities for PSI clinics through corporate contracts, so part of our learning was gathering information about employer health plans from local corporations. In our interviews, we learned that Precision Air employees had very robust health coverage with private insurance, and thus was likely not the target market for PSI clinics.  This was invaluable information for us, however, as we were able to quickly shift gears and secure interviews with lower-income employers for the following week.

PK Dispensary: Our next stop of the day was PK Dispensary, a PSI clinic just outside Dar.  In addition to gathering information about employers, we were also interviewing various PSI clinics in tandem to understand their services and relationship with employers in their area.  PK Dispensary was quite sophisticated relative to other PSI clinics, with a pharmacy, laboratory, and a much higher patient load. We learned from the manager, James, that PK Dispensary already had a few active contracts with local employers, and he provided valuable information on how those contracts benefit the clinic and the employees, as well as how those contracts were structured.  James also got us in touch with one of the employers that PK Dispensary contracts with, so during the value prop testing phase of our project, we were able to test out our ideas with them.

James giving us a tour of PK Dispensary

James giving us a tour of PK Dispensary

Drive to Morogoro: After a long day of interviews, we hopped back into the van and headed out for Morogoro, a small city in a rural area of Tanzania where several other PSI clinics operate. We had an interview with one of these clinics scheduled the following morning, so we could get a more rural perspective on the needs and challenges of PSI clinics in addition to the clinics we had visited in Dar.

The drive to Morogoro from Dar was not for the faint of heart.  It took about 5 hours, many of which were on the bumpiest dirt roads we’d ever felt.  Here in Tanzania they call it an “African massage.” I’d say it’s more like being tossed in a washing machine. Luckily, Morogoro is absolutely beautiful, with lush, green mountains filling the skyline. We were lucky enough to catch a double rainbow and a sunset on the drive there.

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Morogoro at sunset

 

Roadside snacks: Off the side of the road, we saw a guy selling huge stalks of sugarcane and we immediately pulled over.  We watched in amazement as he hacked into the sugarcane with a machete; it was the first time Rachel and I had ever had sugarcane straight from the stalk before. The texture was like celery, and it tasted much milder than I was expecting—delicious and not overly sweet.  A hefty bag of sugarcane kept us going for the rest of the bumpy ride.

Sugarcane vendor hacking away at our roadside snack

Sugarcane vendor hacking away at our roadside snack

*Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.*

*Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.*

After a long but rewarding day, we settled in for a good night’s rest.  In one day we experienced the bustle of the Tanzanian capital and the otherworldly scenery of Morogoro. It was one of those days that makes you feel lucky to be here–and ready for the next day’s adventure.

Updates from IBD Kenya – Team Jacaranda Maternity

Shruti Tibrewala is a Full-Time MBA/MPH working on an International Business Development project in Nairobi, Kenya. Her team, Viral Shah, Flavia Bicalho and Rodrigo Machado Pasianotto, is working with Jacaranda Maternity.

Jambo! We’re Team Jacaranda, 4 Full Time MBA students helping our client in Kenya understand how to build a sustainable model that allows the organization to provide low cost high quality maternity care to women across Kenya. We’ve been working with Jacaranda virtually since January and on site in Nairobi for the last 3 weeks. Our team brings a range of relevant interests and expertises to this project – Flavia brings her experience in M&A and Private Equity, Rodrigo and Viral in management consulting, ranging from market expansion strategies to healthcare providers and Shruti in biopharma and public health.

The team outside the clinic

The team outside the clinic

Our Work

Jacaranda Maternity aspires to be a chain of non-profit maternity clinics that provides low cost high quality services to women in Kenya. 40% of all births in Kenya are at home and the rest are done by public and private facilities. Jacaranda hopes to bridge the gap between poor quality public facilities and high cost private facilities.

Having now spent nearly three weeks in country, I feel confident that we have delivered significant value to the organization through our deliverables – a model and supporting set of recommendations. The mission of Jacaranda is clear and inspiring, but solving for financial sustainability has been a challenge. Over the course of our project, we collected a trove of valuable information that will allow Jacaranda clear visibility into their costs. Now, they can rationalize their pricing and product mix in order to ensure that they are making a sustainable margin on the valuable products they provide.

In addition, we worked hard to develop a one-of-a-kind tool that empowers the Executive Team to perform scenario analysis (varying pricing, costs, and service mix) to understand the bottom line impact overall and for each product they offer. Now, as Jacaranda Executives make strategic decisions, they will be able to do so with the support of our tool so that the financials map directly to actions.

Shruti and Flavia get a taste of medical life

Shruti and Flavia get a taste of medical life

Our client’s appreciation for our work has been so rewarding. Seeing how Jacaranda operates as well as it does so with the limited resources they have was inspiring – and knowing that we have helped them to stretch their capabilities even further is great. We have truly felt that we became trusted advisors to Jacaranda’s Executive Team – and were often solicited for advice on unrelated topics. From the work front perspective – mission accomplished! From a personal perspective – we are thrilled to be invited into the Jacaranda family and really enjoyed our time working with their team and learned a lot from them about their work and the culture.

A day in the life

Jacaranda currently has two clinics, both located on the outskirts of Nairobi, in Kiambu county. We were housed in an apartment a brief 5-7 min walk away from their Kahawa West clinic. Most days consisted of a few hours of client meetings, interviewing competitors, working with their clinical staff to design methods to collect data and working on the final deliverable.

Project work and getting to and from dinner consumed most of our weekdays. We were fortunate to have had many classmates who had lived or worked in Nairobi previously and had provided us with many recommendations of places to check out and taxi drivers to use. It seems as though traffic is an inevitable consequence of living in Nairobi – between the sporadic, heavy and unpredictable rains (a driver told us that all residents leave and get in their cars to go home at the same time when it rains), poor road infrastructure in some parts and matatus ruling the road (Nairobis public transport system, that is owned and run by various co-ops). That said, often our long taxi rides led to very interesting conversations with the drivers – learning about the Kikuyus and Luos in Kenya, multiple wives and carjackings. We chose to look at the glass half full and our excursions brought us to new adventures each day!

The Haas team with part of the amazing team that makes Jacaranda tick

The Haas team with part of the amazing team that makes Jacaranda tick

Weekends!

Our first weekend, we headed to Kenya’s beautiful Masai Mara, along with the UN Women team. Our drive up there took us through Kenya’s stunning Rift Valley and through a Masai village.

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Team Jacaranda and Team UN Women outside Kenya’s stunning Rift Valley

 

Despite it being low season, we were fortunate to see 3 out of the “Big 5” – Lions, buffalo and elephants! And wow – it took our breath away! We also saw gazelles, cheetahs, vultures, giraffes, zebras and many, many other species. At one point, we saw a lion resting a few feet away from a carcass of a buffalo he had just demolished. Close by were 5-6 vultures on a tree and some hyenas. We felt we had just seen an entire food chain in action! I’ll probably never forget that sight. We slept in a luxury camp, with the sound of a live grunting hippo outside as background music. It was hands down, AMAZING.

Team meets...LION!!!

Team meets…LION!!!

The next weekend, the team headed to Zanzibar. Sadly, due to an unfortunate experience with Precision Air and Kenya Airways, the writer of this blog was unable to go but it seemed like it was an awesome experience!  However, from the rest of the team, I am able to report that the  picturesque beaches (apparently straight out of a postcard) coupled with stunning snorkeling, great food and drink made for a one-of-a-kind vacation.

Cheetahs in Masai Mara...no big deal

Cheetahs in Masai Mara…no big deal

Kenya

Despite being far from the city center, we felt very welcomed by our client and local Kenyans. We found that people enjoyed talking about themselves and their experiences and were warm, friendly and helpful. The staff at Jacaranda was comprised of passionate people who were always willing to help us with what we needed for our work. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard the word “Karibu”, which means “Welcome” in Swahili, over the last 3 weeks. At one of the clinics, we were treated to a meal of ugali and skuma, which is traditional Kenyan cornmeal cake and greens. We even learned how to eat it with our hands! Yum!

As I write this post a day before we leave Kenya to return to our respective internships, I realize how far we have come since January, from first meeting each other to living in the same apartment for 3 weeks and eating all our meals together, from first hearing about our client to coming on site and meeting the people that run this organization and seeing the women it serves and finally from learning we’re going to Kenya and working on our ICO report to actually experiencing the life, the food and the people. This has been a life changing experience and we are so thankful to Haas, and Jacaranda for the opportunity.

Asante IBD, Jacaranda and Kenya!

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Updates from IBD Philippines – Team We Care Solar

IBD Spring 2015 team We Care Solar (Sherry Chen, Sarah Tomec, My-Thuan Tran, Dorothy Yang) traveled to the Philippines for their IBD project.

It wasn’t until our team landed in the Philippines that we grasped the extent of the country’s devastating natural disasters. We arrived just a year and a half after Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest cyclones ever recorded. It killed more than 6,000 people and ravaged thousands of communities.

Much of the country had recovered. But among emergency response organizations, there was a sense of urgency. How could they better prepare for the next inevitable disaster? In the Philippines, it is not a question of if the next disaster will strike, but when. The Philippines is the second most disaster-prone country in the world, and Filipinos endure frequent typhoons, earthquakes, floods and tsunamis.

Ruins from the 2013 major earthquake in the Bohol Province.

Ruins from the 2013 major earthquake in the Bohol Province.

One of the biggest challenges in Haiyan relief efforts was access to reliable power. The typhoon severed electricity lines, and some areas did not have consistent access to power for months. Without power, emergency responders struggled to reach more isolated and remote areas with critical help. Search and rescue responders were unable to charge their communications devices to call for additional resources. Without a consistent light source, medical personnel had difficulty providing life-saving procedures at night for victims and women delivering babies.

That is where our IBD team came in. We worked on developing a market entry strategy for Solar Suitcases to be used in emergency disaster response in the Philippines. These Solar Suitcases use solar power to charge lights and other crucial devices. Developed by Berkeley-based WE CARE Solar, the suitcases are primarily used to light maternity clinics in rural areas. But following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, WE CARE saw a tremendous need for the Solar Suitcase in emergency response.

The IBD team with potential emergency response partners after the qualification meeting.

The IBD team with potential emergency response partners after the qualification meeting.

The Philippines was an ideal country to pilot entry of the technology into the emergency disaster sector. WE CARE partnered with Stiftung Solarenergie Foundation Philippines (StS), a social enterprise that works to provide solar energy in rural areas who do not have access to clean, reliable and sustainable energy.

The key question became how emergency responders could gain access to these Solar Suitcases. While there was a tremendous need for the Solar Suitcase, the equipment is cost-prohibitive for many smaller emergency response organizations. WCS and StS did not want to solely rely on grant after grant from foundations and donors. Our job was to develop a sustainable funding model and operational framework that would allow emergency responders to access the kits.

WECARE Solar and StS training emergency responders on power management with the solar suitcase.

WECARE Solar and StS training emergency responders on power management with the solar suitcase.

Our hypothesis that there was a strong market for these Solar Suitcases among emergency responders, and that they would be willing to pay to gain access to these Solar Suitcases during times of emergency. We developed a model similar to Zip Car: Solar Suitcases would be held in warehouses and emergency responder organizations would pay an annual fee that would allow them to get the Solar Suitcases whenever an emergency struck. They would pay a daily “lease” fee whenever the suitcase was in use.

We quickly realized that this was an innovative model. Through interviews with international organizations such as the United Nations, we recognized that most emergency response relied on major funders and donations that flowed in. The chaotic “all hands on deck” environment after a disaster did not lend itself to a structure in which equipment was returned. A leasing model would be a very new model in emergency response that StS would be pioneering.

We were honored to meet dozens of emergency responders who have dedicated their lives to helping communities in distress. Some came from the private sector, others from volunteer-based organizations, and some from government. These men and women spoke passionately about providing crucial help to devastated communities after disasters, time and time again.

As we introduced the Solar Suitcase to these responders, their eyes lit up. They spoke about how the Solar Suitcase could help them be more equipped during emergency response and how it could ensure life-saving disaster relief could reach remote and isolated areas. They talked about the potential to provide crucial light for their emergency operations and charge up their devices— from radios to cell phones to wireless modems—all critical tools in emergency response.

Taken in Coron, Palawan province, a young boy steers his boat away from the docking area. Our team was struck by the resilience and passion for life shared with us by the people of the Philippines.

Taken in Coron, Palawan province, a young boy steers his boat away from the docking area. Our team was struck by the resilience and passion for life shared with us by the people of the Philippines.

Our time on the ground showed us the resiliency of the Filipino people. We are excited to see this model come to life and to see the impact of the Solar Suitcase in emergency response. We hope it will empower first responders and help revolutionize access to power for disaster relief.

Updates from IBD Kazakhstan – Team IAB

Andrew Lee is a full-time MBA student working on a Spring 2014 International Business Development project in Kazakhstan. His team is working with the International Academy of Business (IAB), a Kazakh university based in Almaty.

The Republic of Kazakhstan is the Central Asian country where our International Business Development (IBD) team spent three weeks for our consulting project. During the country selection process for the project, David Lashley, Andrew Lee, Joe Regenbogen, and Kory Vargas Caro applied for an adventurous country. We were fortunate to receive our assignment of Kazakhstan, a country that is not a well-known business and travel destination for United States citizens.

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View of the mountains outside Almaty from our apartment

Our project involved consulting for the International Academy of Business (IAB), a Kazakh university based in Almaty, in their quest to become more a more entrepreneurial university. Throughout the engagement we met with a variety of internal and external stakeholders, and local universities to understand the educational climate and local conditions. One fun event involved sitting on a university panel to students.

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MBA 2015 students seated left to right Andrew Lee, David Lashley, Joe Regenbogen, Kory Vargas Caro, during a panel with Kazakh students regarding entrepreneurship

The scope of our project focused on the faculty and developing their entrepreneurial skills. Specifically we formulated recommendations regarding talent management, process efficiency, and curriculum redesign.

In addition to our work we also enjoyed the local culture. In the picture below we explored the Green Bazaar. People shop at this market for ready-to-eat food, drinks, groceries, and merchandise. While there we enjoyed mare’s milk and camel’s milk.

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Kory Vargas Caro (MBA 2015) accepts mare’s milk from a local vendor

We also explored the countryside by taking visits to the mountains, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Tamgaly Petroglyphs, which date to the Bronze Age.

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David Lashley, Kory Vargas Caro, Joe Regenbogen, and IAB employee Dias Bakasarin in the mountainside just south of Almaty

When interacting with Kazakhs they frequently inquire what we have learned about their country or what surprises us. In truth we were impressed with the beauty of this land. It is filled with generous and warm-hearted individuals who have welcomed us, helped translate during our interviews, and showed us true hospitality. We all leave with an appreciation for the future growth potential of Kazakhstan.

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From left to right: a Suleyman Demirel University employee , IAB employee Dias Bakasarin, David Lashley, Joe Regenbogen, Kory Vargas Caro, and Andrew Lee 

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Left to right David Lashley, Kory Vargas Caro, Andrew Lee, Joe Regenbogen, and IAB translator Dina Teltayeva during a presentation to faculty and staff