Winning Case competition Tbirds share their strategies

By: Ashwathy Sreenivasan’12

This Friday, during the weekly TSG meeting, as part of the agenda, our case competitions winners were invited to make a presentation to the audience based on what their case was and what strategies that helped them win.

First to present was the International Venture Capital Team (Harsha Reddy, Chris Lopez, Manish Chhokar, Tim Brown and Mattphoto (1) Gottesman) who won 2nd place at the Venture Capital International Case competition that was hosted by USC Marshall. The structure was each team were assigned two entrepreneurs, who presented their individual business plans that the team was required to value. Entrepreneurs pitched their ideas and explained the competitive advantage they were hoping to establish. This initial round lasted 30 min.  The team was then allowed 3 hours for due diligence and use multiple valuation models, analyse the term sheet, technology that the businessmen proposed to use etc. Each member had the task of analysing the various functions of a business and discussed their findings to pick the entrepreneur they would invest in. Fifteen minutes was specifically allotted to negotiating and prepare a term sheet. The Judges had ten minutes to ask questions to each tem and pick the final winner. Our team represented our school with dignity and portrayed their expertise in handling such testing situations.
DSCF0274International HULT Global Case Competition was held at the end of February conducted three different tracks; Solar, Housing and education. This team was composed of Aditya Sandu, David Grimaud, Riley Roberts, Fabienne Jolivert and Gwen Straley and participated to in the housing track. Approximately 3000 teams participated, 50 of them were short listed and were asked to present. They created a ten year business strategy for Habitat for Humanity. One month, three times a week with 2-3 hour long meetings, this team developed a comprehensive plan that addressed all the issues raised in the case. Professor Finney provided them guidance regarding the content of the PPT, Dr. Cabrera was on the judging panel a couple of years ago and the team asked his advice on addressing the issues of the case and Professor Ramaswamy for his functional expertise. Although the team did not win the overall competition they were given a special mention and contacted by the Director of Housing board to make the same presentation to the C level executives of Habitat for Humanity. The team was lucky to also be offered internships with them to stay as consultants.

Thunderbird SHRM club was sponsored by the local SHRM chapter to attend the competitions held by SHRM organization across theIMG_0035 nation. Our team was composed of Helen Wu, Sharon Liu, Kyle Larsen, Lauren Sanne, Swecha Bhavana, and Rula Andriessen. They were given four hours to complete a case analysis, prepare a paper, and create and practice their presentation.  After the team’s first round in front of the judges, they spent the afternoon clarifying their arguments and putting in additional practice time. The team won $3,000 and free admission to the Society of Human Resource Management 2012 National Conference in Atlanta.  The AZ SHRM Chapter, and the Thunderbird SHRM Chapter, under the leadership of John Briscoe, sponsored the team and supported them in their journey to victory.

Strategies and advice they have for aspiring students interested in participating in future case competitions:

Lessons learnt, by the International Venture Capital team:

  • Remember that you are investing in people and not only the business plan report.
  • Look for signs of commitment and the passion they portray while discussing their idea.
  • Walk entrepreneurs through the term sheet, explain terms and rational to ensure they are on board with all discussions.
  • Always keep things positive and propose sufficient rewards than the penalties.
  • Conduct a Mock run on campus with fellow Tbirds to identify flaws that may have been overlooked.
  • As a venture capital firm, you must remember that it is not only about the money but also about adding value to the business.
  • Encourage first Tri students to be a part of the team to be able to coach the next team that will be willing to participate.

Tips from the teams:

  • Ensure you pick your members based on their individual skills and expertise to have a complimentary team.
  • Be realistic and understand all the constraints before making the final presentation of the solutions.
  • Know your audience i.e. judges especially, as they may not know the complete details of the case and in it would be best to not complicate the presentation.
  • Having a team facilitator will ease the communication among members.
  • Do not forget the core value and issue of the case.
  • Advise the TSG to open a forum that will allow students to keep track of the various competitions taking place at different times. Encourage students to share such information with clubs and other students to gain a better chance of building stronger teams.
  • Twitter has been an effective source of information regarding the happenings of various case competitions. Following various business leaders is normally sufficient.
  • For uncertain case competitions, meet with team members before hand to understand the way the work, personalities and device and effective strategy in splitting the work based on their competencies.

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