Updates from IBD Beijing

 

EWMBA students Tiffany Barbour, Ketaki Gangal, Benjamin Kim, and Jaimin Patel are currently in Beijing, China, working on an International Business Development (IBD) project with CreditEase. EWMBA student Leanne Chu is managing the offshore project operations in Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA.

Our Project

Our mission was to help CreditEase understand the Wealth Management (WM) industry in the U.S., and develop an implementable strategic framework recommendation for offshore investment by CreditEase target customers using U.S.-based investment vehicles. After six weeks of intense research and interviews with industry experts in the U.S., we were ecstatic to finally be in Beijing!

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A Day In The Life…

We started each morning with a call to sync up the Beijing and US teams, discuss the learning and findings from the previous day, as well as plan our next steps. Work life in the Beijing office was very similar to the U.S., except the workday typically started around 9:30a. Once the office doors opened, though, it was off to the races with product team meetings and client conference calls scheduled throughout the day and usually in different buildings across the city. No need to go to the gym… these walks definitely kept us fit.

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Team interviews with various product team leads and current WM customers.

Meeting with the product teams and current customers for an hour at a time was so illuminating. Every conversation seemed to double our learning, which helped us generate new insights and even better ideas for the market entry strategy.

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Team photo in our cubicles.

Between meetings, we would spend time at our cubicles debriefing the previous meeting, formulating new ideas, and connecting with our nearby neighbors from the Corporate Strategy team.

The Country and Culture

Even though the project kept us continually busy, we managed to find time to take in the sights, learn the history of China, and of course enjoy the delicious cuisine.

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Jaimin and Ben at the Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.

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Team photo in front of entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Delicious lunch spread in a local restaurant.

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We also took some time to enjoy a traditional tea ceremony…

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… and then learned how silk is made.

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Team photo with our hosts: Bing, Kelly, and Meichen.

Our overall goal was to wow the client, and we did just that! The senior management in attendance for the final presentation were highly engaged, asked lots of questions, were genuinely impressed by our ideas. If you had asked any of us about Wealth Management, Fintech, or CreditEase two months ago, there would have been a number of blank stares. Now, we feel like experts in training and are eagerly awaiting the day when we can invest with CreditEase in the U.S.!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Nan ga def! Mangifi!

Welcome to Dakar. Nestled in the Cap-Vert peninsula, Dakar is the westernmost point of the African continent.

picture1          A beautiful beach in Ile de Goree, off the coast of Dakar

A city of contrasts where gleaming Range Rovers and broken Renault cabs jostle for space on the same lane, towering beachside mansions overlook decrepit shanties. And bold new-age enterprises, dysfunctional government and age-old agriculture makeup the Senegalese economy.

The first thing that strikes you in Dakar is the construction. There is an undercurrent of urgency in a city bursting at its seams as people from all over Africa, and around the world flood to it, seeking opportunities in a resurgent Africa. We visited and met scrappy entrepreneurs in a number of incubators in Dakar – working on bringing technology to transform deep social causes. 

picture2           Dakar is bustling with construction

Africa has leapfrogged the traditional banking system, with mobile banking. With over 100% mobile penetration, mobile payments and mobile money transfer are slowly replacing the cash based economy. Our host InTouch hopes to make this readily accessible to a wide swath of the population with a digital point-of-sale system as an aggregator of payments. From day one, we hit the ground running to figure out a strategy for expansion and growth for InTouch’s products.

picture3             Tigo is one of the top 3 mobile money operators. In the foreground is a                                                          rebooting Windows screen.

Our main focus was understanding the market landscape and the adoption of InTouch’s current product. We had already prepared a couple of solutions before landing in Senegal – so that we could quickly validate our hypothesis and present to InTouch.

picture4           Usability research at gas station where the product is deployed

 

picture6          Market validation with local retail stores

We visited CTIC (an incubator) and Jokkolabs (a co-working space) in Dakar. It was fascinating to meet and interact with the entrepreneurs from all over the world working on making a deep impact on some of the social challenges in Africa.

picture5                        Visiting incubators and co-working spaces in Dakar with Yann LeBeaux

Vincent, the Innovation director at UNICEF was looking to use data analytics to become a nimble and agile organization. Adam at Voto was working on technology that could be used to gather survey data from social workers in far-flung regions. Malick at Africa Mobile sought to build a service to reach uneducated massed via web and mobile communication tools. And Bagore & Edouard at La Laiterie du Berger are looking to create a distribution channel for milk produced in rural Senegal to meet the burgeoning demand in cities like Dakar. We also met a passionate Daouda Gassama at the AEME who is bringing in an age of energy efficiency to Senegal.

picture7          Met the passionate Daouda Gassama and his wall of energy efficient lights at the AEME

As a part of our secondary research, Mike also figured out that Senegalese eat 29 Kgs of fish every day. One of our goals was to consume 29 Kgs of fish in 2 weeks. Thus began a search of the local Ceebu Jen (thiéboudiène), Yassa Poisson, Grilled Thiof, Crevette et lotte, and all sorts of deliciousness. Incidentally, we also found that Ravi does not like to wait for his food – a point made amply clear while waiting repeatedly for the local made-to-order Thiof.

picture8      Food was always on our minds in Dakar

Yogesh earned the nickname of “Yekini” given his uncanny resemblance to the professional Senegalese wrestler Yekini. That and his love for fish heads and sparkling water.

picture9           Apparently Yogesh bears an uncanny resemblance to the wrestler Yekini

Our gracious hosts took us sight-seeing over the weekend to Sine Saloum islands in South Senegal. This was a weekend of touring the local villages, fishing in the delta, pickup soccer on salt flats, seeing our first ever sun halo and attending a local wrestling competition. Evenings were spent taking in the spectacular African sunsets and more eating.

picture10     Amazing Sine Saloum

 

picture11    Spectacular African sunsets

This was one of the best experiences we have had at Haas. Thanks InTouch team for hosting us.

picture12     We can fit in the back of a beat up Renault or a horse cart

An Invitation to Help Transform Agriculture in Ethiopia

Like all the other IBD stories, ours is a story of international travel. Of exploring a country for the first time. Yes, we tried new food and saw amazing new things (our oldest known human ancestor, 12th century churches carved into hillsides, and much more).

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We survived the government shutdown of the entire country’s internet. (Yes, really) We fit all of us PLUS our intrepid client/guide into his tiny car from the 80’s.

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Collectively, we even tried every single domestic beer brand (not as impressive as it sounds, considering there are only nine of them) and lots of Ethiopian buna coffee.

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But more interestingly, it’s also a story of agriculture in a country where over 80% of the population depends on the sector for their livelihoods. It’s a story of a country determined to achieve middle-income status in the next 10 years and of the proud and optimistic people across numerous sectors who are working to make this a reality.

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So it’s not really a story about us. It’s a story about an invitation. An offer to share a vision and contribute in some very small part to projects that could one day help an entire country produce key crops more efficiently and effectively. Reaching this goal will mean food security for 100 million people. Exports that provide income for public investment in roads, health systems, and schools. An opportunity for children to become educated and pursue jobs that will help their families have more than the generation that came before them.

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This is a story about Ethiopia. About the people who work here every single day with the hope that someday, together, they will reach these goals. So instead of talking any more about us, we’d like to share the story of just two of the many amazing people we’ve met over the last two weeks.

Taressa

Input Supply and Distribution Head at the local government level an hour outside of Addis Ababa

Taressa is young, a sharp dresser. He seems out of place in his surroundings – the local branch of the Ethiopian Agricultural Bureau. The office where we conduct our interview is cramped with three desks, one computer, several filing cabinets, and shoulder-high piles of what could be anything from reams of paper to leftover and forgotten agricultural inputs. By lining chairs up between the desks, we find room for everyone to sit.

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As Taressa tells us about his job, the most incredible thing is that he doesn’t seem at all frustrated by a system we view as infuriatingly outdated and redundant. Each day, Taressa spends up to eight hours on the phone collecting transaction data from 20+ primary cooperatives (agricultural distribution centers) under his office’s jurisdiction. When no one else is using one of the two working computers in the office (the one in front of us is off the “functional” list) he can update an excel sheet with his findings. If not, or if the electricity is out, he records information by hand and waits for an opportunity to update the excel sheet. Once updated, he prints it out and walks or catches a ride to the center of town to hand deliver the sheet to another office. When we ask about emailing it, he laughs. There is no internet in the office.

But he doesn’t seem upset. He smiles the entire time we’re talking and is optimistic that there are ways to improve the system. He takes us to see a primary cooperative and animatedly discusses different options for digitizing their inventory tracking system.

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Meeting Taressa gave us a newfound respect for the young people who dedicate their time and talent to improving the lives of smallholder farmers. And we left with the hope that our project can in some small way make his job slightly easier, and in turn help to improve others’ livelihoods.

Melaku Admassu

20 years working for DuPont Pioneer, the only private multinational company with current permission to sell seeds in Ethiopia

We met Melaku, the Country Manager for DuPont Pioneer  Ethiopia, at his administrative headquarters on Peacock road in Addis Ababa. We entered the building, which looked like a converted private residence, and were welcomed by an older man wearing a tweed suit and a warm smile.

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Melaku has worked for Pioneer in Ethiopia for twenty years and, though his humble demeanor won’t allow him to say it out loud, is largely responsible for the international company’s success in a country whose agricultural industry is almost entirely dominated by public sector enterprises.

At the end of our interview, during which Melaku showed extensive knowledge of both the agricultural sector in Ethiopia and innovative marketing and business practices, we asked him one final question and received an amazing answer –

Q: What is your background and why do you do this work?=

A: My background is in agronomy. When I was young, my father was a teacher but he also farmed the land. I still remember when one day a government extension agent came to our farm and he said “you should use this fertilizer” and my father, he said, “why do I need this? All I know is manure.” And the man said to my father, “Okay, don’t use it for your own sake. Use it because you are a teacher and you need to show everyone else that this works and will make their crops better.” And my father said “I’ll do this for the people.” I still remember that.

When I started this work as pioneer employee, I went to this smallholder  farmer and asked him. “Please try this improved seed.” He looked at me and said, “you know I have two wives and sixteen children to provide for. If I take your seed and it doesn’t work, you’ll be responsible for killing my family.” And I said, “Okay, I believe in this seed. I’ll take the responsibility.” He planted the hybrid corn seed I gave him as a sample (free of charge ) plus my advice on agronomy management and he harvested three fold of what he used to harvest from the same plot of land, secured food for the whole year, and started convincing his neighbors later the community.

Now, 20 year’s later, he is a big man. We promoted him from a Pioneer Extension Partner (model farmer) to a seed dealer and he has expanded from half a hectare of cultivated land to 16 hectares. His productivity has increased and his  income is also growing because he is implementing  best practices. Before, he had to decide which of his children could attend school, because he didn’t have enough money for uniforms and supplies for all of them. Now, four of them have graduated from university and the rest are all attending school. He has upgraded the grass roof of his house to corrugated iron, bought a television and radio, and now has a mobile phone to be able to keep better track of  agricultural market information. I was talking to him last month and he was going to another city for his son’s graduation. He was taking his younger wife with him I asked him, “oh, how long will your drive be?” and he replied, “We’re flying! I want my wife to experience riding in an airplane.”

Melaku smiles and says, “This is what our seed can do. It helps people. And when I see their success, it is my success. It’s like all their good fortune, it’s in here,” he touches his chest, “not just in their pockets.”

We feel similarly about our project and our time here. It’s a class, it’s an adventure, but it’s also a labor of hope. Hope that the project recommendations we make here will someday help the people we’ve met do their jobs more efficiently and, in turn, help farmers grow better crops for their children, their communities, and their country. If our project recommendations put more money in the pockets of the people who truly need it, their good fortune will be reward enough for our work. We are grateful to Haas for providing us with an amazing experience and an opportunity to go “beyond ourselves.”

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Team Lucep – Bangalore, India (IBD Summer 2016)

Background:
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in May, the IBD class of Summer 2016 walked into a Berkeley Haas classroom in eager anticipation for what was to come.  It was then that we would learn where our IBD adventure would take us, and which of our classmates would be coming along for the ride.  We were thrilled to meet each other for the first time and discover that we would be heading to Bangalore – the “Silicon Valley” of India.  Although we started out as a team of acquaintances at the time, the 8 week IBD experience would transform us into a tight-knit family.

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We hit the ground running by setting up our first client call within days after the first class.  We were assigned to work with Lucep, a startup that built a tool for lead management and sales acceleration.  This tool appears as a widget on the customer’s website and is similar to a “Contact Us” box that requires fields of information to be filled out (name, company, phone number, etc.).  The information that’s submitted is sent to a salesperson’s mobile phone in which the salesperson is then able to connect with a customer in 60 seconds or less.  The idea behind this is that businesses (especially startups and small/medium businesses) need to engage with prospective leads as soon as possible to prevent businesses from losing leads to their competitors.

Lucep then shared with us their challenge.  How do they go to market in the U.S.? How do they go to market in India? Can a single strategy be applied in both countries?  Or would each country require its own unique game plan?

The research:

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Since we all hailed from different backgrounds, we knew that gaining an understanding of the product offering would require a considerable amount of research.  We decided to focus on 3 main pillars:

  • First, we looked to industry news, articles and blogs to learn as much as we could about sales acceleration and lead management. This meant keeping up with the latest industry news and articles on sites such as TechCrunch and following relatedt tech blogs.
  • We then analyzed the competition by downloading whitepapers, watching informational videos, and even contacting competitors directly to get a more in-depth understanding of their products and how Lucep might differentiate itself.
  • Most of our research insights were derived from interviews. We reached out via our personal and Haas networks to learn about which SaaS products were currently being used by companies in the high technology indstury.  Also, we ascertained whether these companies placed an emphasis on fast response to prospective leads (Lucep’s core value proposition) and companies’ feedback on Lucept’s product.

We spent the first 6 weeks of IBD (up until we left for Bangalore) vetting out the U.S. market only.  The focus switched over to the Indian market once we arrived in Bangalore.

Day of Arrival
The day had come and we finally arrived in Bangalore after enduring a 20+ hour travel time from San Francisco to Bangalore.  Our client graciously sent a car to pick us up af the airport.  As we traveled from the airport to the office, one visibly difference between the US and India became apparent.  Bangalore traffic is unlike we had ever seen.  There is endless honking coming from a mix of rickshaws, cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bikes that weave in and out of each other and avoid cows and other animals idling in the middle of the streets.  Yet, there seemed to be a hidden sense of order underneath the seemingly chaotic traffic since no accidents or road rage were observed and locals seemed to have mastered the art of the “near miss” when driving through a tangled web of people, animals, and cars.

After 2 weeks, we learned that the keys to successful driving in Bangalore require 3 things – a good horn, good brakes, and good luck.

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Interviews:
Similar to our approach in the U.S., much of our research in India was based on interviews that were mostly set up by the client.  We had the opportunity to speak to a wide range of professionals including those working in sales, marketing, and even CEOs and founders of established Indian tech companies.  This was an incredible and eye opening experience and really brought to life some of the cultural differences between the U.S. and Indian markets.
One of these differences is the idea of “jugaad.” This word, originating from Hindi, refers to intelligent hacking to find a low cost solution.  We learned that SaaS has not been a successful model because of this juggad.  Rather than purchase a SaaS solution, many companies choose to “jugaad” a solution by creating their own in-house customer relationship management (CRM) systems, adopting the use of spreadsheets for complicated tasks, or installing pirated software.  We found that this greatly differed from the Silicon Valley startup scene where SaaS products such as Marketo, Hubspot, and Salesforce were fully adopted and paid for by organizations ranging from a handful to thousands of employees.

 

TechInAsia:
To supplement our research, Charlies Salazar was sent on Berkeley Haas Team’s behalf to attend the TechInAsia conference, a gathering designed to connect Asia’s tech ecosystem.  Conference attendees included a multitude of reps from startups across Asia, guest speakers, and investor panels.  The conference culminated in a pitch competition in which one lucky startup received financial backing to pursue their idea.

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Reflection:
Looking back on the experience, it was nothing short of incredible.  We were extremely lucky to have been assgined to such a amazing client and wondrous country.  Lucep were incredible hosts and we were able to learn a great deal about the Indian technology and startup scene from them.  We thank the IBD program and Berkeley Haas for giving us this precious opportunity that definitely a trip of a lifetime.

For a more visual look into our trip, please check out our video blog:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-01RrWtqGmE

Updates from IBD Team Cemaco

FTMBA students Geoff Grant, Juan Casanova, Jordan Pearson, and Carina Serreze are currently working on an International Business Development project with CEMACO, a large retailer, in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The team is helping the company refresh its Privilegio loyalty program strategy as the program celebrates its 30th anniversary.

In reading about the natural beauty of Guatemala, we lingered on German explorer Alexander von Humboldt’s famous words about Lake Atitlan, “. . . the most beautiful lake in the world.”

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Beautiful Lake Atitlan vista

Our team of four looked over the turquoise waters and shared the breathtaking view, the warm breeze, and a moment of perfect silence. This was our first trip out of bustling Guatemala City, where we mostly stayed indoors, and it was our first of many unforgettable experiences in Guatemala.

The City had its own charm. Less so in the sights or the views we took in, but rather in the warmth with which we were greeted. Our client, Andrea, met us with an enormous smile and welcomed us to her country with open arms. On our first day she toured us around the city and shared her beautiful home. Once we retired to the hotel suite, we reflected on our good fortune. Our accommodations, like our warm welcome, exceeded all expectations (see a few photos below). We woke up the following morning intent on returning the favor.

Our hotel suite’s living area

Our hotel suite’s living area

Our hotel suite’s master bedroom

Our hotel suite’s master bedroom

Our hotel suite’s loft bedroom

Our hotel suite’s loft bedroom

Our first week at CEMACO, Guatemala’s most respected and well-known retailer, consisted of visits to stores, competitors and warehouses. Think of CEMACO as a cross between Bed, Bath & Beyond and Ace Hardware – basically everything that you would need for the home – plus sister stores selling toys, baby items and construction materials.

We conducted customer interviews and met with CEMACO employees across the organization to build a deep understanding of our client. Most notably, however, on day one we launched a survey to 30,000 CEMACO customers, the culmination of dozens of hours of work in the preceding weeks.

Exterior of CEMACO’s store in the Cayala Shopping Center in Guatemala City

Exterior of CEMACO’s store in the Cayala Shopping Center in Guatemala City

Interior of CEMACO’s store in Cayala Shopping Center in Guatemala City

Interior of CEMACO’s store in Cayala Shopping Center in Guatemala City

Carina Serreze and Jordan Pearson conducting in-store product testing at CEMACO’s Cayala Shopping Center location

Carina Serreze and Jordan Pearson conducting in-store product testing at CEMACO’s Cayala Shopping Center location

Piano key-playing stairs inside of CEMACO’s store in Cayala Shopping Center in Guatemala City leading to the toy area

Piano key-playing stairs inside of CEMACO’s store in Cayala Shopping Center in Guatemala City leading to the toy area

Carina Serreze and Jordan Pearson taking a photo with Tito, the mascot for CEMACO’s sister toy store, Jugueton

Carina Serreze and Jordan Pearson taking a photo with Tito, the mascot for CEMACO’s sister toy store, Jugueton

: IBD team with our client Andrea in CEMACO’s warehouse in Guatemala City

IBD team with our client Andrea in CEMACO’s warehouse in Guatemala City

In the weeks that followed, our team built a roadmap for CEMACO’s 30 year-old rewards program, which had gone all but unchanged since inception, to turn it into a legitimate driver of loyalty and competitive advantage. We presented the key takeaways from our final deck, with 160 slides of original content, over the course of three-and-a-half hours with the company founders, the CEO and CFO, and members of the Marketing and IT teams. The meeting, by the founder’s own account, was an outstanding success. The company’s founder even called us “my heros” after we delivered our presentation! Our clients shared their sincerest gratitude for a job well done and immediately whisked us away for food and drinks at a chic bar followed by more drinks at a hipster art exhibit/abandoned warehouse nearby.

IBD Team with CEMACO’s CEO (Jonathan) and Marketing Team members (Andrea and Sofia) at an art exhibit in the hipster district of Guatemala City

IBD Team with CEMACO’s CEO (Jonathan) and Marketing Team members (Andrea and Sofia) at an art exhibit in the hipster district of Guatemala City

In the brief time that remains in-country, our focus will be on ensuring that CEMACO’s management and the loyalty program team have been equipped with everything they need to turn our business plan to action.

From seeing ruins in Antigua to scaling the Pacaya Volcano with our fearless guide and local CEMACO funnyman, Axel, Guatemala has been every bit as breathtaking as we could have hoped. And, as an added bonus, we’re happy to call our client, Andrea, a friend. Our flight home this weekend marks a “see you later,” but certainly not a final good-bye.

Please enjoy some of our favorite photos from the trip below!

Attempted (and failed) jumping shot in front of the Pacaya Volcano

Attempted (and failed) jumping shot in front of the Pacaya Volcano

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Our team enjoying a boat ride across Lake Atitlan

 

Our team reaching the end of a wobbly pier on Lake Atitlan

Our team reaching the end of a wobbly pier on Lake Atitlan

Our team catching a little rest amongst the ruins of an old convent in Antigua

Our team catching a little rest amongst the ruins of an old convent in Antigua

Dog lover Carina Serreze showing some love to the locals in Antigua

Dog lover Carina Serreze showing some love to the locals in Antigua

Welcoming the morning in the main plaza in Antigua

Welcoming the morning in the main plaza in Antigua

Local artisan market inside of a courtyard in Antigua

Local artisan market inside of a courtyard in Antigua

Butterfly whisperers Carina Serreze, Geoff Grant and Juanito Cassanova enjoy some bonding time with the local butterfly population in the Lake Atitlan Natural Reserve

Butterfly whisperers Carina Serreze, Geoff Grant and Juanito Cassanova enjoy some bonding time with the local butterfly population in the Lake Atitlan Natural Reserve

Hanging bridges hike in the Lake Atitlan Natural Reserve

Hanging bridges hike in the Lake Atitlan Natural Reserve

: Juanito Cassanova leading a pack of local “servicios taxi” up the trail to Pacaya Volcano

Juanito Cassanova leading a pack of local “servicios taxi” up the trail to Pacaya Volcano

IBD Team with CEMACO Funnyman Axel in Lake Atitlan

IBD Team with CEMACO Funnyman Axel in Lake Atitlan

All of the volcano selfies at Pacaya Volcano

All of the volcano selfies at Pacaya Volcano

IBD Team taking in the view of Antigua after a hike up to The Cross

IBD Team taking in the view of Antigua after a hike up to The Cross

IBD Team with CEMACO Funnyman Axel in front of Pacaya Volcano

IBD Team with CEMACO Funnyman Axel in front of Pacaya Volcano

The adage that learning happens best outside one’s comfort zone held true for team CEMACO. We expanded our horizons a great deal while working in a country none of us had visited before. Just as importantly, we feel confident that our hard work and fresh perspective will make a valuable difference in driving our client’s business forward.

We’re grateful to CEMACO for their amazing Guatemalan hospitality during our three weeks here, and we hope future IBD teams will have the pleasure of working with such a great client.

Sincerely,
Team CEMACO

IBD team with CEMACO’s Founder and Chairman Don Mario and CEO Jonathan at CEMACO’s headquarters in Guatemala City

IBD team with CEMACO’s Founder and Chairman Don Mario and CEO Jonathan at CEMACO’s headquarters in Guatemala City