Overall, my Global Challenge Lab (GCL) experience revealed to me which classes I took at Thunderbird were truly applicable and useful in real world situations. From learning how to do proper data-driven research from Dr. Babarinde’s Regional Business Environments Africa course, how to research and compose a pitch deck in Professor Scheel’s Building a Global Start-up course, and getting client interaction practice with Dr. Sully de Luque’s course from Corporate Social Responsibility, I felt incredibly prepared for the GCL. Furthermore, the main key was team dynamics. I had an absolutely fantastic group who were all dedicated to the project and all shared the same values and goals regarding the project. This made the entire experience wonderful!
About my project with Tai+
Best described as an Uber for cargo and truck transportation within Kenyan’s logistics system, Tai+ connects truck drivers and cargo holders through a mobile/web based application. The goal with the application is to decrease the inefficiency within the logistics system in Kenya, where 75% of a product’s cost goes towards logistics versus the US’s 6%. The application is not only to connect cargo holders to truck drivers but also to create transparency throughout the trip and increase optimization for the trucker to ensure they never have an empty truck load. Tai+ is a start-up company that is supported by the logistics company, Siginon Group. Both are working together to find ways to disrupt and bring the 4th Industrial Revolution into action within the logistics industry in Kenya and beyond.
As a start-up company, Tai+ is in the process of getting funding to expand the business. There is a need for investors to invest and a strategy to implement the commercialization of the product. With four other main competitors already in action within the industry, Tai+ needed to find ways to differentiate themselves and earn client loyalty. A pitch deck, an investor road map, and a commercialization strategy were requested in order to help the company grow and be successful within the industry.
Our Process to Achieve the Objective
The development of the pitch deck really helped the team be directed into what needed to be researched. Despite the time difference and the difficulty in getting research materials needed that Tai+ and Siginon already had, the team was able to find enough relevant research to create the pitch deck. The pitch deck required the team to dive deep into what the mobile market, the logistics market, and the trucking industry were like within Kenya. This developed a firm basis of discovery for the team to understand what Tai+ was up against. To dive deeper and understand more of the market landscape, a need to analyze the competition was necessary. Analyzing what the competitors were doing helped reveal areas in which Tai+ was needing to differentiate itself from the competition, future innovative ideas to consider, and an understanding of the needed manpower to help figure out marketing and financing within the company. This information was all gathered by researching the job postings for which competitors were hiring. Analyzing the job postings helped discover at what degree of operations the competitors were at and what Tia+ needed to do to stay competitive. This also helped with the methodology of figuring out an investor road map for Tai+. For the investor road map, we addressed the overarching need to research potential investors. This included local and international companies that were interested in the type of technology Tai+ had to offer. An extended competitor’s analysis was needed here, as the team needed to understand who invested in the competitors and their seed round dollar amounts to help the team determine who Tai+ should be pitching to and how much they should be aiming to earn for themselves. All of this research was organized and narrowed down to determine the top three potential investors, along with their contact information for Tai+ to reach out. Finally, this led the team to the commercialization strategy in order to follow through with what the pitch deck was promising to the investors. This research required the need to investigate platform based companies that were already applied within Kenya, such as Uber, AirBnB, and MPesa. By analyzing what those companies did and having an understanding of the logistic and mobile industry within Kenya, a commercialization strategy was able to be developed for future implementation.
Along with the deliverables presented, key recommendations in order for Tai+ to be successful were given. The overall and main recommendation was for Tai+ to use Siginon’s branding to help Tai+ become recognizable and highly valued. Siginon is one of Tai+’s customers that no other competitor has in their portfolio as a client. Considering Siginon’s 30+ years of experience within the industry, it is a well known company on which clients and customers know they can rely. This brand recognition would increase Tai+’s chances of earning clients and leading the market. In order to retain the clients/customers, however, the recommendation included a need for an account based marketing strategy. This included the increased usage of Tai+’s social media presence, revamping their website, and a focus on developing partnerships with truck manufacturers, the mobile money market, trucker’s associations in Kenya, and petrol stations. Not only do these partnerships develop loyalties, but they also increase marketing opportunities. With account based marketing, a specific focus is on individual customers with the idea to first develop quality customer relationships rather than reaching out to the masses. This all would require a new hire. From the analysis of what the competitors are doing, the need for a person to implement this commercialization strategy would require a full-time hire.
The Value of Our Recommendations
The client was very pleased with what the team had to offer. Of course, there were some aspects of the recommendations that the client did not agree with, but they found the information and deliverables provided extremely helpful. They found value in some of the ideas proposed and realized that there were future discussions that the teams of Tai+ and Siginon needed to discuss and brainstorm on. They were grateful for the recommendations because they provided a fresh, new, and outside perspective that brought light to key areas they needed to address in order to better the company to become successful in the market. Overall, the client believed that the recommendations given to them were helpful to determine their direction of conversations and future brainstorming the company needed to be doing. They wished we had a couple of more months to work on this together and hope to meet again one last time to brainstorm deeper.
My Takeaways from the GCL
Personal key takeaways had a lot to do with learning about myself, about working with different cultures within a business, and the importance of having a cohesive team. For myself, I learned more about what it means to lead a team and how to lead a proper meeting. At first, I was very awkward and clumsy throughout the meeting. However, it gave me the proper experience to learn from my teammates, get some practice in, and grow on how to manage and work the room throughout a meeting. For working with different cultures, I learned about the different ways of communication that are preferred. Parts were more direct, parts were more relationship building, and other parts were just managing the issues within the internal company politics, as it was evident there was conflict going on. It took time and patience to understand and taught me to slow down, breathe, and really embrace writing down thoughts to discuss later rather than interrupting. It was important for everyone to speak their mind and finish all of their thoughts because some people would take long pauses mid-thought that I would interpret as if they were done. Finally, learning how to work around conflict and bring the team together with Siginon and Tai+ was key in understanding how to move past that and bring successful business results. Conflict caused delays and thus revealed to me that whenever I become in charge of a company, I need to make sure to address and fix any conflict immediately so as to not negatively harm the company. Ultimately, my GCL experience with Tai+ was a truly enriching experience that left me better prepared to enter the workforce as I graduate Thunderbird this May.