IBD Team YGA Travels to Istanbul to Work with Young Guru Academy (YGA) for a Second Year

Written by Team YGA: Joanne Lee, Clara Jiang, Enrique San Martin Petit and Daniel Mombiedro

After a successful inaugural engagement between Young Guru Academy (YGA) and IBD in 2017, the two partnered again this year to send a team of four MBA students to Istanbul, Turkey. The IBD team was tasked with assessing the potential of virtual reality tours to develop a go-to-market strategy and revenue model. Piri – one of YGA’s most promising startups – wants to expand beyond its current travel app which offers only GPS-based tracking audio tours. The value that the Berkeley Haas IBD team would be able to deliver was unique – situated in the hotbed of innovation with VR companies like Oculus, YGA understood this advantage. I had the privilege of being a member of this IBD team and embarked on my first international work experience.

A day in the life:

My alarm goes off at 7:30AM. I quickly get ready and head over to the dining hall for breakfast. Dining hall? Yes, that’s right – my team members and I are staying at Özyeğin university where one of YGA’s offices are located. I assemble on my tray a typical Turkish breakfast – eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese, and simit, a circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds. I pour myself a cup of hot tea and join my team members in the discussion of today’s agenda.

An elaborate traditional Turksih breakfast spread at a café

An elaborate traditional Turkish breakfast spread at a café

Today’s agenda: a Piri tour of Karakoy, a brief 30-minute meeting with the CEO of Turkcell (the largest tech company in Turkey), self-study time for our team to get some work done, and wrap-up with a dinner party hosted by Sezin, a YGA colleague. I am excited to do a little sight-seeing of Istanbul which qualifies as product testing – perks of working with a travel tech startup.

We arrive at the starting point of the Karakoy tour, a beautiful mosque with two minaret towers, and are promptly greeted by Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders. We all plug in our earphones and begin following the instructions from the audio tour. The experience is seamless – as I stare up the intricate details on the dome ceiling, I hear about the rich story behind the mosque. The tour concludes with us reaching the harbor with a spectacular view of the glistening Bosphorus river. After snapping some photos, we stop in a café. Over baklava, we provide feedback to Çağlar on our experience with the tour. Eventually, it is time for us to meet with Kaan Terzioğlu, Turkcell’s CEO – we don’t want to be late and Istanbul’s traffic is unpredictable.

IBD Team on the Karakoy Harbor with Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders

IBD Team on the Karakoy Harbor with Çağlar, one of Piri’s co-founders

Again with an unobstructed view of the Bosphorus River, I am sitting next to Kaan in a large conference room. My team members and I are presenting our research on the VR industry and getting a rare look at how the CEO of a major tech company conducts himself. Kaan is engaged, nodding, and occasionally interjecting with an insightful comment. After the meeting, we collect our notes and head back to the YGA office.

We settle into an empty conference room and get to work. Daniel Mombiedro, our team lead, starts going through our slide deck and proposing changes to be made. We all offer our thoughts on how to best reflect the new information from today. We are a collaborative team – discovering, discussing, and delivering together. After several hours of tweaking models in Excel and putting together slides, we’ve made good progress. A YGA colleague swings by to offer us a ride to Sezin’s dinner party. We pack up and prepare to sit through more traffic.

Upon arrival at Sezin’s apartment, I kiss cheeks one-by-one with everyone there. As an Asian-American raised in New York, cheek kissing is uncommon. Through these warm embraces, I feel a strong sense of the close-knit family that YGA has formed. Sezin has prepared a bountiful feast with a variety of meze (similar to tapas). With full plates, we sit around the living room and chat with YGA members to learn about what drew them to YGA. I am particularly inspired by Küşat’s story – Küşat, who is visually impaired, is working on the world’s most advanced smart-cane, WeWalk, that detects obstacles above the waist and integrates third-party apps through voice-activation to lessen the everyday challenges of the blind. At the end of the night, my team packs into a van to return to our dormitories – it’s been a long but eventful day and I’m excited about what tomorrow holds.

Arrival and Exploring the Brands of Madura

Full-time MBA students Lamees Alotaishan, Tyler Fisher-Colbrie, Derek Kenmotsu, Vanessa Pau, and Tina Ying are working with a major fashion apparel company located in Bengaluru, India aimed at determining the viability of integrating wearable technology into their product lines.

After a 20 hour journey, Team Madura landed in Bengaluru, India and hit the ground running. First order of business: retail therapy! In order to understand the Madura Fashion & Lifestyle brands, we visited four of Madura’s flagship stores of Peter England, Allen Solly, Van Heusen, and Louis Philippe. Each brand maintained its own unique personality and price point.

Understanding the nuances of each brand helped our team prepare for our mission: To explore the viability of integrating wearable technology into Madura’s product lines.

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The flagship store of Louis Philippe, Madura’s luxury brand

Tina and Lamees checking out traditional designs 

Tina and Lamees checking out traditional designs

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Derek can’t stop raving about Indian wedding attire

Fashion meets Lean Manufacturing
From concept to creation, the Madura’s Technology Management Center (TMC) brings fashion designs to life.

Our second day focused on observing and understanding the manufacturing operations of Madura. The TMC houses the most specialized seamstresses in the company. Their goal is to produce the newest concepts created by brand apparel designers.

From the TMC, we traveled to Anekal District to visit Madura’s manufacturing facilities. We observed the impressive mass production of Madura’s apparel. From elaborate embroideries to 120 operations that goes into completing a formal suit, Madura implements the lean manufacturing process, Kaizen, which they adopted from the Toyota Production System (TPS).

A glimpse of the Technology Management Center

A glimpse of the Technology Management Center

Outside of the Madura manufacturing facility

Outside of the Madura manufacturing facility

Ideating with Madura

We led Madura’s Product Development & Quality Assurance Team and four individual brand teams through five ideation sessions to create innovative e-textile solutions. We started by giving the teams an example persona with a pain point. Then we introduced them to the user-centric design thinking process to ideate product solutions that addressed that pain point.

We walked each group through the process, then broke off into teams to ideate around specific lifestyle applications that can be addressed by e-textile and smart clothing solutions. The teams went through a series of diverging and converging to finally come up with the most compelling ideas. Teams consisted of experts from product, marketing, design and textile experts. Product ideas ranged from fad fashion to futuristic technology concepts that are not yet developed. The ideation sessions were filled with energy, open-mindedness and creative prototyping. Afterwards, we shared a framework for launching these potential solutions through the Business Model Canvas tool.

Our presentation to jumpstart the ideation sessions

Our presentation to jumpstart the ideation sessions

Tina coaches designers and product managers through the ideation phase

Tina coaches designers and product managers through the ideation phase

A prototype of Life Connect, a garment that uses e-textiles to alert help

A prototype of Life Connect, a garment that uses e-textiles to alert help

An Excursion to Mumbai

Mumbai was a breath of fresh air, a very cosmopolitan city. From pushing through a bustling crowd at the Gateway of India and taking a ferry to Elephanta Island, our adventure to Mumbai was full of highlights. We also had the pleasure of catching up with the other Haas team that was based out of Pune, India.

At Elephanta Island, we captured the sight of a monkey feeding its little baby. The weather was very hot and humid, but was well worth the trip. There was a little bazaar under bright blue and yellow canopies on the island where visitors can shop for trinkets and crafts made by the locals. The island itself was a beautiful sight, with tropical palm trees and blue ocean surrounding the Hindu religious sights. We had a tour guide give us a brief explanation of the 1,200 year-old history of these sights. Then we topped off the night at a skydeck overlooking all of Mumbai while watching the UEFA Champions League Finals. It was the perfect conclusion to a successful trip!

Locals that we sighted on Elephanta Island

Locals that we sighted on Elephanta Island

The Trimurti sculpture at Elephanta Island

The Trimurti sculpture at Elephanta Island

For a more visual look into our trip, please check out our video blog:

Disrupting the Education Technology Industry in Brazil

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

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

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

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Team Starline enjoying Pão de Açúcar, Rio de Janeiro

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

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

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

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

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

Entrance to Milton Campos

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

Typical classroom at Milton CamposImage

Vivek shows some Haas love

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

Ancient computer in the library at Milton Campos

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

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

Students from the chemistry class we observed

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

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

A computer lab at Isabela Hendrix

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Auditorium

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

 Amy telling the students about Taiwan

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Our new friends 

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

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