Que Alegre! Updates from Guatemala City

Written by Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison

FTMBA students Peter Wasserman, Ian Collazo, Kevin Schuster, Michelle Hernandez and Rachel Garrison traveled to Guatemala City during May 2017 to work with the fourth-largest, family-owned, home goods, hardware, toy, and baby retailer in Guate mala: Cemaco.

Guatemala City

Our team arrived in Guatemala City during an exciting time for retail. Last year, the retail industry grew 13%, with growth driven by middle/high-end of the market in Guatemala City. Our client Cemaco benefited from these demographic trends, increasing revenue despite growing competition, doubling the number of stores, and receiving recognition as one of Guatemala’s most recognized brands.

Cemaco came to IBD looking for big ideas to meet aggressive revenue and profitability goals.  Among the five pillars for growth highlighted in the 2020 vision, our team was tasked to develop strategy and implementation roadmap to become the dominant e-commerce retail player in Guatemala.

The Initial Research

E-commerce is nascent but growing in Guatemala City. In 2016, e-commerce grew by 20%, mainly used by the young, urban, upper class.  Cemaco launched their beta e-commerce site in April of this year, allowing us to work in parallel with the team and project.

Prior to arriving in Guatemala City, our team conducted secondary research on the industry, competition, company, and customers to make the most of our time in-country. We sent a survey to 600 active and 250 lapsed Cemaco customers and received 80% response rate. This amazing level of loyalty and commitment from the customer base was incredible – we were excited to meet the team and customers during the coming weeks!

Arrival in Guatemala City

Arriving on Saturday, May 13th, we were greeted by the Cemaco team for a tour of the city.  We stopped by a local market, picked up groceries, and of course visited a Cemaco store.

First Days at the Office

Our day of arrival presentation gave us helpful feedback to move forward with our proposal. Meeting with the team, we felt incredibly welcome. Not to mention, it was Peter’s birthday! The team took us out to lunch and we celebrated over cake!

Learning about the market

To learn about the market, we focused our time visiting Cemaco and competitor stores, going to the warehouse to see the e-commerce logistics firsthand (and ride a forklift together!), and conducting in person interviews at Cemaco stores. These experiences helped us understand

  • What obstacles/profitability challenges Cemaco will face: Labor is very cheap in Guatemala. From a logistics perspective, Cemaco has been very flexible and fast, figuring out how to package and deliver e-commerce orders in 1-2 days
  • How Cemaco sets itself apart from the competition: Cemaco is a customer first company that puts its stores at the center of its experience. Cemaco stores are welcoming, bright, and customers enjoy spending time browsing the wide variety of products
  • Why customers love Cemaco: As an established, family owned company with Guatemalan roots, customers are extremely loyal. They feel that they can find everything they need for their homes at Cemaco, and expect to find high-quality products.

Weekend trips 

As our classmates pointed out to us, our team didn’t just work…our client Cemaco planned amazing weekend trips for us. First, we went to Lake Atitlan, where we enjoyed an amazing view of the lake, mountains, and volcanoes went on a nature hike with swinging bridges and saw ancient Mayan ruins.

On our second weekend, we hiked the Pacaya volcano where we roasted marshmallows on top and visited the beautiful, historic Antigua.  Walking down the cobbled roads, we took in the architecture and culture of the city – from carrot ice cream to a speakeasy bar called “No Se,” we tried to find all the hidden gems that Antigua had to offer.

Final Presentation

Back at work, in our final presentation, we recommended that Cemaco prioritize its growing B2B business through an e-commerce platform, and developed a customer-first omnichannel experience plan for both existing and new customers. We were especially excited about our plan to partner with apartment buildings in the nearby Zone 4, known as the “Silicon Valley of Guatemala City,” where first time renters were moving out of their parents’ home before getting married. The team took us out to drinks to celebrate!

In Conclusion

Guatemala is an amazing country and the people are incredibly warm and welcoming. We were so impressed by the culture that Cemaco has created and kept strong over the past 40 years, encouraging their employees to move across functions, pursue continuing education, push for corporate social responsibility, and experiment with new business strategies. We are excited to see what’s next for Cemaco!

IBD Teams United – The 2017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal”

017 Full Time MBA IBD Program “Big Reveal” Day

Finally, the wait is over!

The Spring 2017 IBD program Team Leads, faculty, and staff don’t have to stay quiet any longer.  The IBD “Big Reveal” event took place on March 2nd when each Team Lead welcomed their respective Team Members with a short two-minute video on their client, their industry, and their overview on what the team has been tasked to solve.  Team Leads also included information about their project destination and what they might experience while living and working for three weeks in-country.  Finally, Team Leads presented their four new Team Members with a small gift that represented something about their project country or client.

Said one Team Member of the experience, “The IBD reveal day was a lot of fun. (Team) Leads did a great job staying silent until the day of so it remained a mystery, which I loved. The videos were hilarious and all of the gifts were so thoughtful.”

Team Tekes has hugs all around

Clapping, hugs and handshakes were exchanged after each IBD team was revealed.  

Another incoming IBD Team Member commented that “I loved seeing all of the fun videos and learning about all of the projects!  The local country specific gifts for team members made the reveal especially tailored and fun.  I was so excited to find out that I’d be spending my summer in Thailand, with a great group of people, working in a new industry.  It is sure to be a fun experience and I look forward to being challenged personally and professionally along the way.”

Team ARM meeting for the first time

Once the IBD project “Big Reveal” was concluded, it was time to get the newly formed groups working on a team building exercise called the Viking Attack – a longstanding IBD tradition.   Building successful team dynamics is one of the main goals of the IBD course; IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube often describes IBD as “teamwork on steroids.”  Although there are many courses at Berkeley-Haas in which MBA students work in teams, there isn’t one quite like IBD in which students end up spending three weeks together outside the US working on a consulting engagement.  As Kristi Raube put it, “we really emphasize teamwork, as students will need to rely on each other in-country.  International work is all about being flexible and being able to handle unpredictable and difficult situations.”  

YGA Team Lead giving her new Team Members yummy baklava

Over the next seven weeks leading up to the departure to their respective project countries, IBD teams will work to gather more insights from their clients, conduct extensive research, and tackle the problems they have been tasked to solve.  At the same time, Kristi Raube and the IBD Faculty Mentors will work with the students on IBD course goals like developing consulting skills and techniques, communication and storytelling skills, and understanding cultural dynamics.   As Faculty Mentor Judy Hopelain observed at this point in the course, “My teams are excited, revved up, and they know what they are doing.”  

Team G-Hub

Tune in next month when we check back with the IBD teams on their progress, and we learn how ready they are to head out on their international adventures.  

To see all the photos from the Spring 2017 IBD Program “Big Reveal”, click here.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByYfWhxK5s7RUzJQX1BULU11VFk

Team ElectroMech


IBD in the World

IBD Director of Development, David Richardson and Executive Director, Kristi Raube, have been traveling around the world the last couple months meeting with alumni and prospective clients to talk about the IBD program.  In fact, Kristi and Dean Lyons were all in Santiago, Chile, this past week at the spectacular venue, Los Majadas de Pirque.

Haas Alumni in Santiago at Las Majadas de Pirque

Haas Alumni in Santiago at Las Majadas de Pirque

120 Haas alumni were in attendance, including the Chilean Haas Alumni Network Chapter President, Marcello Vasquez ( ’02) and one of the owners of Los Majadas de Pirque, Pablo Bosch (’15).  Pablo is also an IBD alumnus and in 2014, he went to Haiti to work with the Haitian Education & Leadership Program (HELP), which provides scholarships to low-income, high-achieving Haitian college students.

David’s travels took him to Bogota, Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, this past week and Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing in October.  Meanwhile, Kristi has been to four continents in the last 3 months.  Her travels have taken her to Nigeria, Ghana, Sweden, Norway, Shanghai, Ecuador, Vietnam, and Chile.  All the fruits of Kristi’s and David’s travel will soon reveal themselves in January when the 16 team leads will be assigned to their projects.   We can’t wait to reveal the clients, projects and destinations in March 2017.  Stay Tuned!

Berkeley-Haas alumni dinner in Bogota

Berkeley-Haas alumni dinner in Bogota

Please enjoy photos from both of David’s travels.  To view photos from David’s trip to Latin America, click here and to view photos from his trip to Asia, click here.

Dinner in Hong Kong with Berkeley-Haas alumni James Man and Alan Cheng

Dinner in Hong Kong with Berkeley-Haas alumni James Man and Alan Cheng

Update 2 from IBD Team Fielo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Qing Ye

Photo credit: Qing Ye

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

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

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

Interesting attempt. Man in green shorts is not impressed.

Interesting attempt. Man in green shorts is not impressed.

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


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


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


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


We celebrated with a coconut.
Drink the coconut Peter.


Good. Fabulous technique Peter.


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


ROB!! >=( We’ll miss you Rio ❤




Update from IBD Team Fielo

FTMBA students Dan Cho, Cynthia Song, Peter Stilwell, Rob Uvanovic and Qing Ye spent 3 weeks in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires working with Fielo, a B2B loyalty incentivization platform. Here, they describe a typical day in the life of a software startup.

Our client is a Brazilian start-up that was founded by one of our very own Haasies – Sanjay. After studying computer science and working in tech in the Bay Area, he decided to go back to his home country Brazil to explore the untapped technology industry. His first “barrel of gold” came from founding the first ever Salesforce implementation consultancy in Brazil. After more than 10 years of successful track record, Sanjay started his second new venture – a 100% cloud based software solution for automating customer loyalty and engagement. He has come to us for go-to-market advice: which industries should his new product focus on? And how can he target these industries?

Now, let’s take you through a typical day of us on client site.

Morning, 8am – Preparing for Innovation Workshop

Today is the big workshop day! After taking PFPS and hearing how multiple past IBD projects have successfully used PFPS to achieve unexpectedly positive results on client sites, we are determined to give it a go. We came up with an innovation challenge for the client: how might we create win-win relationships between consumer product brands and their channel partners?

First things first – post-it notes. We rushed to the stationery to get multi-color post-it notes. We invited the Chief Customer Office, Demand Generation Officer and several key members on their teams to join the workshop. Before the workshop, our team already did our fieldwork with key experts, so that we are ready to bring in insights.

After a brief introduction to PFPS methodology, everyone is ready to brainstorm, synthesize and come up with a How Might We.


Then the teams got creative coming up ideas, and even got some time to eat the local delicacy – empanadas! See Dan and Peter’s impressed (stuffed) faces!

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Lastly, it’s show-time! Final presentations from both teams are full of brilliant ideas and excellent storytelling.

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Although the first time using human-centered design approach, the client left very impressed and loved the energy throughout the workshop.

Afternoon, 3pm – The industry expert interviews

Industry expert interviews is a big component of our research approach. In order to understand the pain points and underlying needs of both vendors and their channel partners, we reached out over 200 industry experts since March.

Rob’s LinkedIn Profile

The biggest challenges of conducting interviews? Getting the interview!

The team had a plan. Step 1, look for Haas and Cal alums on LinkedIn with key words such as “sales enablement”, “channel partners”. Step 2, find their personal email addresses in Cal alum platform. Step 3, send a cold email and wait for replies.

Team busy on the phone doing interviews

Team busy on the phone doing interviews

And then, there was few reply. Perhaps 1 in 20.

The only person who seemed successful in setting up interviews was Rob. So the team turned to Rob for help. In the second phase of outreach, we did two things differently: 1) we added “incentives” in our cold emails – if people agree to chat, we will share research findings; 2) everyone used Rob’s LinkedIn account to send out interview requests.


This time we heard back from 1 in 2 people we reached out to.

We ended up interviewing 51 from a variety of industries and functions.


Early Evening, 6pm – One more client interview…

We interviewed one of Fielo’s existing clients, Oi, Brazil’s largest telecom, at a café, which was a great experience in being able to pull true insights due to the interview being in Portuguese and right outside Oi’s office. During the interview, we were really able to see the way that business is conducted in Brazil, which is done much more through personal relationships. The interview was over coffee, the staple of any Brazilian business meeting, and began with the customary five minutes of small talk and getting to know each other.

This interview proved a critical turning point in our research, as we began to truly understand why our client’s product had the potential to be very successful. Oi walked us through their case study of how they used our client’s product to incentivize shop owners to sell more of their sim card as opposed to their competitors.

Key Takeaways

Seeing how a technology product can move from an idea to incentivizing shop owners and store clerks who work in kiosks and sell hundreds of products every day, to specifically push your product over another, was very inspiring.

It was great to see how open our client was in giving us access to their clients and talking about how important these interviews were towards their progress as a company, while it was really neat to see how much detail a large company such as Oi was willing to give a group of students.

This was very symbolic of the way that we have been treated in Brazil, in that if you ask a question, you will almost always get an honest and detailed answer, as people are always looking to help you.

In the Land of the Inkas

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Have you ever heard of sphagnum moss? Neither had we. Our team, FTMBA 2017 students Mitul Bhat, Katrina Gordon, Pan Lu, Hady Barry and Mostafa AbdelAziz, had the chance to explore this new world of small, absorbent, flowering plants through our Spring 2016 IBD project. We were assigned to work with Inka Moss, a Peruvian social enterprise, and one of its investors, NESsT, an early-stage impact investor, to develop a US go-to-market strategy for the sphagnum moss that Inka Moss collects and processes. Sphagnum moss is a highly absorbent type of moss that is used to grow specialty plants like orchids. It is used in its other forms as a soil conditioner, for decoration, or even as a natural water filter.

The “Moss” Diverse Team in IBD History

Inka_2 copyBetween ethnicity, nationality, languages spoken, professional experience, religious background, dietary preferences and sleep schedule, the members of our team were different in every way. This diversity in experiences and points of view made our experience quite unique!



Exploring Peru

In an effort to get to know Peru before starting work, we arrived early to explore different parts of the country. We hiked Machu Picchu, checked out the glaciers of Huaraz, and challenged our bodies at elevations over 5000m (16,000ft) high. We also quickly learned we love Peruvian breakfasts and walking around the beautiful streets of Lima!

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Ceviche por favor!

In between working, we were able to discover the city and find what makes this beautiful place tick. To our surprise, food became a pivotal part of this trip. Lima is a culinary powerhouse, and the ceviche, Chinese fusion ‘chifa,’ sandwiches, meats and local fruits definitely made the long hours together and many revisions of our project so much easier.

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Getting Down to Business

We devised an elaborate plan to create a helpful strategy for our client, which meant our schedule was packed: defining target customers, developing positioning of products, creating a go-to market plan with detailed messaging, pricing, distribution, and marketing tactics, and finally an implementation plan to boot!


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…and Night!

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Highlands visit

To give us more context, our client arranged for us to visit Inka Moss’ production facility in the Highlands. We had to wake up at 5:30 am to catch a 7-hour bus ride from Lima to Jauja, but we were very excited to gain a better understanding of where the moss is grown and the collect, cleaning, drying and packaging processes.

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Most importantly, we had the unique opportunity to interact with the community and understand the impact that Inka Moss has had in the communities it works with. After spending one day in the community up on the mountain, the next day was filled with sharing and interpreting the information and insights from our trip, brainstorming on our next steps, getting to the bus station, and a 10-hour bus ride! The traffic was insanely bad, but we finished 5 movies, 2 books and caught up on 2 days of sleep. Success!

Down to the Wire

In the end, it was our mission to turn all our experiences into actionable insights and devise a holistic go-to-market presentation for Inka Moss to use to enter the US market.

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Happy client, happy team! As we presented to our client during our final presentation, our goal was to offer Marco insights and actionable next steps that would enable Inka Moss to hit the ground running. If you asked any of us four months ago what sphagnum moss was, we would have had little to say—but now we can’t stop talking or thinking about it!


Developing a Distributed Solar Energy Sector in Chile

Team Chile worked with the Universidad de Chile and Fundación Chile in Santiago. Our goal was to recommend policy and financing tools to spur the development of distributed, or behind-the-meter, solar energy generation in Chile.

This past Thursday, Team Chile sat in the audience of a large auditorium watching the Chilean presidential candidates debate the future of energy in their country. Broadcast live on CNN Chile and sponsored in part by one of our clients, Fundación Chile, the fierce debate stressed the critical nature of Chile’s current energy dilemma. Chile needs more energy to fuel its continued economic growth, but the high smog levels in Santiago, foreign dependence on fossil fuels, and rising price of energy are leading Chileans to look for clean, sustainable energy sources within the country.

Our team with Marcos Kulka, the CEO of Fundacion Chile and a Haas alum, at the presidential debate on energy.

Our team with Marcos Kulka, the CEO of Fundacion Chile and a Haas alum, at the presidential debate on energy.

Luckily, Chile boasts some of the best solar radiation in the world. Major investment in large-scale solar generation in northern Chile has begun through both international solar developers as well a local start-ups such as Solar Chile, which was co-founded by Haas alum Cristian Sjogren.

Dinner with Haas alum Cristian Sjogren and his co-founder Koichi Arimitsu, who co-founded Solar Chile.

Dinner with Haas alum Cristian Sjogren and his co-founder Koichi Arimitsu, who co-founded Solar Chile.

Despite the growing solar industry, distributed solar on rooftops or in small community installations is relatively unexplored in Chile. Our team examined the existing markets for distributed solar in California and Germany, and then spent three weeks in Chile testing our hypotheses around how those models for public policy and financing tools might be applied in Chile.

In our first two weeks in Chile, we interviewed a broad web of stakeholders, including government ministries, environmentalists, educators, solar customers, bankers, retailers, entrepreneurs, and policy experts in Santiago. We traveled outside the capital city to interview potential commercial customers from the wine industry, and visited the port city of Valparaiso to listen to consumer opinions.

We visited the port town of Valparaiso to talk with potential solar customers.

We visited the port town of Valparaiso to talk with potential solar customers.

We visited a vineyard in the Maipo Valley to talk about their small solar-thermal installation.

We visited a vineyard in the Maipo Valley to talk about the winery’s solar-thermal installation.

Not only did we hear about policy and financing needs, but we also heard about the need for education and capacity building to foster distributed solar in Chile. As a result, we developed recommendations for a multi-pronged approach to educating consumers, financiers, government, and solar installers. We explored what it would mean to establish policy, financing, and education to spur a more democratic, distributed energy future for Chile using solar energy.

Team Chile worked closely with the Energy and Climate Change team at Fundación Chile as we developed our recommendations and tailored our ideas to the Chilean context. Fundación Chile’s office overlooks the city from high in the hills, and on a clear morning you can see the nearby Andes mountains covered with a fresh coat of snow. The organization is part think-tank and policy organization, and part incubator for new industries in Chile. (It is well known for fostering the salmon industry in Chile, for example.) The dual nature of Fundación Chile’s work pushed our team to think about both the macro-scale policy structures needed to foster the distributed solar market, as well as community engagement and viable business models for service providers working from the ground up.

The offices of Fundacion Chile overlooked the city and out to the Andes mountains.

The offices of Fundacion Chile overlooked the city and out to the Andes mountains.

In our final week, Team Chile presented our recommendations spanning policy, financing, education, and business models to increase the rate of solar adoption and establish a new, competitive sector for the Chilean economy. For example, new financing models such as solar leasing can be applied in Chile to reduce the upfront costs of solar systems and bundle customers to reach scale for effective financing opportunities.

Solar panels provide lighting at the local bus stop.

Solar panels provide lighting at the local bus stop.

Chile has already taken many positive steps toward fostering the distributed solar market with early policies that establish a vision for renewable energy development. To help Chile capture more of the value from its distributed solar industry and support rapid market expansion, our findings support even stronger, large-scale initiatives.

In the coming years, Fundación Chile and Universidad de Chile together will lead policy and public-sector initiatives to unlock demand and capital in Chile for distributed solar. In addition, Fundación Chile will undoubtedly incubate a solar provider for the Chilean market. As Chile turns to national elections in the fall, its foremost experts on policy and energy at Fundacion Chile and Universidad de Chile will have the opportunity to push for new ideas. We hope that our recommendations can help inform new developments in the nascent distributed solar sector, making Chile a regional leader in solar energy.

Our last day at the Fundacion Chile offices in Santiago

Our last day at the Fundacion Chile offices in Santiago