575 ideas, 50 nations, $50,000: the 15th Annual Global Social Venture Competition

Launched by  Berkeley-Haas students in 1999, the annual Global Social Venture Competition is the oldest and biggest student-run competition aimed at elevating social enterprise start-ups. This year’s competition attracted more than 500 entries from 44 nations, vetted through a partnership of universities around the world. The winners, determined in the two-day finals hosted by Berkeley-Haas on April 10 and 11, shared $55,000 in prize money.

GSVC_Sampurnearth

The Winners:

      First place (25,000):  Sampurn(e)arth,  India, which develops end-to-end, environmentally friendly and profitable strategies for collecting and recycling solid waste.

      Second place ($15,000):  Odyssey Sensors, United Kingdom, which  developed low-cost water sensors to boost yields for Southeast Asian shrimp farmers and other aquaculture.

      Third place: ($7,500): Baisikeli Ugunduzi, Kenya, which designed and builds bicycle productsincluding a low-cost solid tirethat drastically reduce repair costs.

Who made it happen: Berkeley-Haas studentssome 29 organizers, encompassing 11 percent of MBA candidates, with assistance from the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship. The co-chairs were Ali Kelley, Khadar Ahmed, and Christine Hamann, all MBA 15. The lead sponsors included Dow Chemical, Intel, Gray Ghost Ventures, and Hanson Bridgett. Nine universities around the world collected and vetted proposals.

The challenge: Social entrepreneurs presented business plans for path-bending new strategies and products that promise to promote social and environmental stabilityespecially in the world’s poorest communities. Winning plans are chosen on the basis of their innovative boldness; potential social or environmental impact; practicality and scalability.

The race:  Teams went through three rounds of competition: an executive summary round, regional competitions hosted by nine universities; and the final judging hosted at Berkeley-Haas. Teams received mentoring and guidance along the way on how to strengthen and sharpen their plans.  Eighteen teams reached the final round, many of them traveling to Berkeley from Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa.

What made them winners:

GSVC_Sampurnearth_India

Sampurn(e)arth, founded by three recent graduates of Mumbai’s Tata Institute of Social Sciences, impressed judges by their creative and localized strategies to make better use of municipal waste. The company trains and employs waste-pickers to collect and recycle waste, and develops local facilities for biogas production, composting and recycling.  The judges were impressed by the company’s ability to re-think a growing global problem from the ground up.

GSVC_OdysseySensores

Odyssey Sensors impressed judges by their identification of very low-cost technology that both increases the yields of impoverished shrimp farmers in Bangladesh and spurs healthier environmental practices. The firm has also developed a low-cost sensor to monitor trough water levels in remote livestock farms.

GSVC_UgunduziBaisikeli Ugunduzi charmed judges and attendees with their line of extremely simple-yet-valuable line of bicycle component products. Bicycles are essential pieces of income-earning transportation equipment to many people in Kenya, but tire repair costs and downtime can reduce the income of people who rely on bicycles by 25 percent. Baisikeli developed an inexpensive solid tire, made from recycled materials, that never goes flat. It also developed a novel interior liner that reduces punctures in conventional tires, and a cheap, fast tire-repair compound.

Memorable moment:  Two of the finalistsLegWorks of the United States and SwissLeg of Switzerlandboth presented potentially revolutionary new artificial joints for leg amputees in the world’s poorest nations. LegWorks presented a functioning artificial knee that can be manufactured for only $100. Co-founder Brandon Burke, an amputee himself, was wearing one of the knees during the team’s presentation. SwissLeg unveiled a low-cost prosthetic lower limbs.  Before the finals were over, the two teams were talking about areas of possible collaboration.

The Haas Takeaway:  Once again, students did the vast bulk of preparing and organizing a competition that attracted hundreds of attendees and many leading social entrepreneurs. The final day included breakout sessions on the nuts and bolts of launching social ventures, as well as keynote speeches by two Berkeley MBA’s who did it themselves: Priya Haji, co-founder and CEO of SaveUp; and Kirsten Saenz Tobey, founder and chief impact officer of Revolution Foods.  It was an organizational effort that began months ago but that Berkeley-Haas students have honed to a science.  As in past years, second-year students show first-year students the ropes, but first-year students run the actual planning and preparation.  “It’s like running a small organization with a very targeted objective every year,” said Christine Hamann.

Winners: Students Reel in Second Place in Impact Investing Competition

Zach Knight and Chad Reed tapped their storytelling skills to connect to their audience in their presentation on  myCatch.

Zach Knight and Chad Reed, both MBA 15, tapped their storytelling skills to connect to their audience in their presentation on myCatch.

The Competition: Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge

The Outcome: $5,000 and access to an impressive network of potential investors

Chad Reed and Zach Knight, both MBA 15

Chad Reed and Zach Knight, both MBA 15

The Team: Zach Knight and Chad Reed, both MBA 15

The Field: More than 220 MBA students from 39 institutions across the globe submitted applications. Ten teams were selected and presented at Morgan Stanley headquarters in NYC.

The Challenge: The challenge seeks outstanding proposals for novel investment strategies to meet some of the most pressing global challenges. As the world’s population approaches 9 billion people by the year 2050, the challenge of meeting human demand for scarce global resources will intensify. Finance has a key role to play in meeting this challenge. Moreover, an increasing number of institutional investors are seeking sustainable investment opportunities for their portfolios. Teams are encouraged to think beyond venture capital fund vehicles and strategies.

What made them winners (in the team’s own words): We tackled a challenge no other team addressed — lending to small-scale, sustainable U.S. fisheries — in an innovative and creative manner. Our financial instrument acumen was second to none, and our entertaining presentation told a compelling personal narrative.

The Haas Factor: Pitching a new and creative financial instrument, as exciting as that can be for us finance nerds, really needs a humanizing story to connect with a larger audience. By focusing on an individual who will both benefit from our work as well as provide returns to our investors, storytelling became an crucial element of our success as we were the only team to employee this strategy. Our story focused on Larry Collins, a small Bay Area crab and sole fisherman, who has been left behind by rights-based solutions to fishing.

Another key Haas value that was stressed throughout our core classes was that feedback is a gift.  We pushed all our classmates, professional contacts, and even first-round judges for feedback.  This was certainly helpful as we entered the final round of Q&A.

The Haas Impact Investing Network: While Chad and I are not members of the network, our classmates who are involved in the Haas Impact Investing Network were able to provide meaningful feedback throughout the process, including help with our final pitch. Their feedback was essential to our last-minute final touches, pushing us with some tough questions (as the Q&A part is usually the make or break with these competitions) and providing general feedback on our idea.

Most memorable experience from the competition: We saw great speakers, met interesting contestants, and got excellent presentation experience, but the most memorable part of the competition was seeing a room full of more than 200 people at a major Wall Street bank brought together by an interest in impact investing. We both very excited to see that our passion for the impact investing space, which is a key reason we both choose to come to Haas, was shared by so many.

Portland Trek: MBA Students Head North for Nonprofit Insights from Nike, Mercy Corps

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By Guest Blogger Andrew Lee, MBA 15

Last month three Berkeley MBA students trekked to Portland, Oregon, as part of a Net Impact visit to the Rose City. Nick Wobbrock and Andrew Lee, both MBA 15, and evening and weekend student Vishal Kudchadkar, MBA 14, were eager to gain insights from contacts at the Nike Foundation and Mercy Corps. Additionally, the Berkeley MBAs invited the local Portland State University MBA Net Impact chapter to join us. In total, 10 individuals joined our visits.

At the Nike Foundation the group first took a campus tour. Lush and perfectly manicured sports fields surrounded us. Afterward we heard from Julie Addicott, a member of the foundation’s Global Communications team. She detailed the foundation’s main initiative, strengthening the “girl effect.” This is the powerful belief that adolescent girls are the key to ending the cycle of generational poverty in Africa. If you can change the course of a girl’s life at age 12, educate her, and prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, you can remake a continent. Much of the foundation’s efforts over the past decade have focused on driving resources to this agenda and getting the word out. Moving forward, the foundation plans to incorporate more initiatives that utilize Nike Inc.’s core competencies of storytelling, much like the Ethiopian radio drama the Foundation backed (http://www.girleffect.org/explore/creating-change-for-ethiopian-girls/girl-hub-ethiopia-yegna-behaviour-change/).

Following a quick lunch and commute from Beaverton, where Nike is located, to downtown Portland, the group visited Mercy Corps, an international development organization that saves and improves lives in the world’s toughest places. We heard from the social ventures and also market development teams. They provided an interesting perspective on international development because both teams employ market-based approaches, which is different than the traditional, and unsustainable, charity model of international development.

At the end of the day we reconvened with the PSU MBAs and Mercy Corps folks for a happy hour at the Thirsty Lion pub. A wonderful visit to the Pacific Northwest!

Competitors Fold Under Haas Team Pressure in Origami Challenge

Origami Challenge team members

Origami Challenge team members Paul Roberts, Iris Korovesi, Andrew Masalin, Joel Morehouse, and Carmen Maxim, all EWMBA 2016.

The Competition: Origami Idea Challenge by Origami Partners LLC

The Outcome: Five Haas students beat out teams from Stanford, UCLA, and the University of Texas to win their division and $10,000. They now face seven other finalists for the $50,000 grand prize, to be announced May 16.

The Team: Evening & Weekend MBA students Carmen Maxim, Iris Korovesi, Andrew Masalin, Paul Roberts and Joel Morehouse, all MBA 2016.

The Field: The competition attracted 117 entries from students and professionals around the world. For the final round, Haas will go head-to-head with Dartmouth, University of Virginia, University of Nevada-Reno, Northwestern, Columbia Business School, and the Indian School of Business.

The Challenge:  Origami Capital Partners is looking for a unique investment opportunity that is large enough to absorb $100 million of capital and last from one to seven years. Investments can include any asset class or geographical location.

What made them winners (in the team’s own words): We won because we were a diverse team with extensive international expertise and a wide range of industry experience: : investment banking, financial modeling, market intelligence, pricing analytics, technology, architectural engineering, and real estate. Our diverse knowledge and common interest in finance allowed us to come up with various ideas across different sectors and regions, before narrowing it down to the idea that we all felt provided the highest potential upside, using our value investing lenses.

The Haas Factor:

For this competition we questioned the status quo, by pushing ourselves to come up with an idea that ignored geographical boundaries and conventional investment structures. Despite our diverse backgrounds, we all engaged with this competition in an effort to learn from our peers about investing. Our confidence in our idea allowed us to put in long hours of research to come up with a solid investment thesis.

Where your idea/strategy came from:  We looked for illiquid investments opportunities that would have long-term value, but are currently undervalued.  Our team’s experience with real estate in the US allowed us to evaluate undervalued real estate opportunities in other regions and to identify the structure that would best fit Origami’s investment mandate.

Your most memorable experience from this competition:

Reading the email that we had made it to the last round!

Designing Women: Leadership Conference [re]Frames the Conversation

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This year Berkeley MBA students brought the design-thinking skills they gained at Haas to hundreds of women from around the Bay Area who attended the annual Women in Leadership Conference. We interviewed Stephanie Curran, MBA 14, who co-chaired the conference with Lauren Fernandez, also MBA 14, about how they came up with the conference’s theme, “Design Your Future,” and their decision to focus on design thinking as they planned the conference.

What has been your experience with design thinking at Haas, and why you were inspired to share that through the conference theme?

I was first introduced to design thinking at a case competition shortly after I started school. We used “divergent” thinking to brainstorm the feelings one has when buying cell phones, which led us to create a story around the anxiety our proposed consumer segment goes through when purchasing a new cell phone for themselves and their family members. The Haas team was the only team that took this emotional approach, and the judges were incredibly impressed by our depth of consumer insight, ultimately declaring us winners of the competition. Soon after, I took the core MBA class Problem Finding, Problem Solving, where design-thinking tools were further explored and I was able to expand on my previous experience.

After that, I was sold on the power of design thinking and  began to apply it to projects I worked on for Berkeley Board Fellows, IBD, and elsewhere, always with success.

How did you end up applying design thinking to planning the Women in Leadership Conference?

Lauren and I actually used this diverging brainstorming activity as we were trying to come up with themes for the WIL Conference. We highlighted six topics that were trending and then spent two hours post-it note brainstorming to think about all the different things that fell into these topics. “Design Your Future” was one of the results, and we both felt strongly that exposing people to tools of design thinking and how they can apply to your life both professionally and personally was incredibly important.

Did this lead to any changes to the conference from previous years?

As the conference planning began to take place we used the theme to structure both the panels and interactive workshops. The panels had been traditionally industry focused and we decided to switch them to a functional focus. We wanted to give attendees a broad overview of all the different roles that can fall under one function like marketing, consulting or finance. This way if one worked or aspired to work in marketing, they could get a better idea of what “marketing” means across different industries in one panel.

The afternoon workshops focused on teaching attendees specific tools that are key to design thinking, whether it be reframing problems or learning how to tell stories. We wanted to ensure that at the end of the day attendees would be able to walk away with a “toolkit” around how to “Design their Future” going forward.

Did you do anything else differently?

On the day of the conference, we also conducted an interactive design thinking whiteboard activity designed by our classmate Lindsey Schatzberg, also MBA 14. In the morning, attendees were challenged to think about some opportunities they were facing in life, both personally and professionally. These opportunities were aggregated into four distinct themes around lunchtime and the afternoon then focused on attendees providing solutions and thoughts focused around these themes.

This activity was incredibly important because for most attendees this was their first exposure to design thinking and it allowed them to see the entire solutions based process of design thinking come to life.

What were key takeaways for you from the conference?

We received incredible feedback both at the conference and after on the keynotes, panels, workshops and everything in between. It was extremely rewarding for both Lauren and me to see a year of hard work play out and go off without a hitch. I know we are both so thrilled to have been a part of such a wonderful experience and that we had an amazing team to work with. The other ladies on the Women in Leadership board were incredibly instrumental in making this conference come to fruition.

Classified: An EMBA Immersion Applies Innovation Cycle Lessons to Dating

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This article is part of a series called Classified, in which we spotlight some of the more powerful lessons faculty are teaching in Haas classrooms. If you have a suggestion for a class to feature, please email Haas News editor rkelly@haas.berkeley.edu.

Two days into Applied Innovation Immersion Week at San Francisco’s towering Grace Cathedral, Joe Inkenbrandt, EMBA 14, is on the phone with his co-founders to schedule an urgent meeting. Inkenbrandt, an entrepreneur launching a startup to provide security for 3-D designs, is excited to share what he’s learning about the importance of gathering customer insights before the team goes much further.

This epiphany strikes during a week in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program when students move through an entire innovation cycle—gathering customer insights to frame problems, ideating and iterating their way to a product or service, and sharing their ideas in a culminating challenge.

Cast Assumptions Aside

Haas Senior Lecturer Sara Beckman, a leader in making design thinking and problem framing part of b-school curriculum, and Michael Barry, of Stanford’s Design Program, are teaching this applied innovation module, one in a collection of EMBA immersion experiences.

The challenge: develop a product or service aimed at easing the pain points of dating. In one exercise, Beckman has students generate “how might we” questions to get ideas flowing. “The goal is to generate as many questions as possible,” says Beckman of this process, known as “diverging.”

Post-its, each with a single question, seem to fly onto the walls: How might we help people have more fulfilling social lives? How might we soften the blow of rejection? How might we cure loneliness?

The shared element is focus on the customer, an orientation Inkenbrandt finds helpful. “I can see that my company’s founding team is making a lot of assumptions about what the customer thinks,” he says.

Rapid Prototyping

Surrounded by walls festooned with fluorescent sticky notes, Beckman issues the call to “converge” and the EMBA student teams begin the process of selecting one “how might we” question around which to design a product or service.
But first, they get a lesson on building—prototyping being an important part of the innovation process. The challenge: In 10 minutes, using only paper and tape, create an object that will drop as slowly as possible from an indoor balcony in the cavernous Cathedral to the floor below.

Suddenly the room is full of people standing on chairs counting as they drop an array of paper airplanes, doilies, and parachutes. In the end, the top performers are a tiny scrap of paper and, the winner, at 12.9 seconds—a completely un-embellished 8.5×11 sheet of paper.

Ahead of a second build (this one involving toilet paper and foil), Barry instructs, “Pay attention to how your team worked and pulled knowledge together rapidly—you’ll need this on Friday.”

Create under Challenging Conditions

By Friday, challenge day, the teams have begun developing solutions to problems that plague dating. Three tables of judges await, and each team, sticking with the same judges, cycles through in a process rather like washing one’s hair—with iterate, feedback, repeat standing in for lather, rinse, repeat.

Team “Sage Date” launches into its initial pitch, acting out a skit in which an anxious woman on a date suddenly excuses herself to make a stealth call to Sage Date for advice. The judges express reservations about mid-dinner disruptions. After five rounds, the team has added pre-date prep to their panic-abatement model.

“The process isn’t about coming up with the perfect presentation for the afternoon challenge,” says Barry. “It’s about teaming and about figuring out how to be creative while managing resources and incorporating (potentially contradictory) feedback.”
“I’ve been doing some of these things,” says Inkenbrandt, “but now I feel like I’m moving forward with even more tools that have proven success.”

Winners: Berkeley-Haas SmartBod Team Takes 2nd in SXSW Challenge

SXSW Winners

SXSW SmartBod Winners: Bobby Davis, MBA 15; , Arlene Hadi; Liz Klinger; and James Wang, MBA 15. (Leo Chen, EECS 07, not pictured.)

The Competition: South by Southwest 2014 Business Startup Challenge

The Outcome: A Berkeley-Haas team took second place in the competition at University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business on March 8.

The Team: The winning team, a vibrator startup called SmartBod, consisted of Berkeley MBA students James Wang and Bobby Davis, both MBA 15; Liz Klinger and Arlene Hadi; and Leo Chen, EECS 07 (who was unable to attend the event).

“I think it’s worth noting that our entire team came together through Haas connections; Bobby and I are in the same MBA year, and Leo was introduced through another MBA classmate,” Wang points out. In addition, Klinger is Wang’s partner, and Hadi is Davis’ partner.

The Field: Competing teams came from Stanford, MIT, Ross, Darden, McCombs, and Chicago Booth.

The challenge: Teams had to make a 10-minute pitch for their startup ideas, business models, and progress to experienced angel and venture capital judges.

“Most competitions have shorter pitches, so mostly cover just the high-level idea of a startup,” says Wang. “Since this competition involved a longer pitch format, we had to get pretty detailed on not just our broad concept, but how we would execute, market, and make money from it. With experienced judges and a lot of fodder, all the teams got really good (and difficult) questions during the Q&A portion as well.”

What made them winners: “As a VC, you see the same idea over and over again—they loved that this was something they haven’t seen before, and feel that it’s a viable business versus one that just chases a hot trend,” says Wang. “Again, I think our willingness to challenge conventional wisdom came through here.

“Additionally, they really liked that we were a strong, diverse team where everyone brought something to the table. (We have two electrical engineers, a systems engineer, a data and software specialist, and a designer).”

The Haas Factor: “The Defining Principles are core to how we’re approaching our startup and how we got into it in the first place,” Wang says. “Our startup is a smart vibrator company (yes, those types of vibrators). It’s not a typical startup, but we feel like we can bring a great product to market—we’re definitely questioning the status quo with what we’re doing.

“Additionally, even during the Q&A session, I think it came through that we were very open to feedback (Students Always) and very focused on providing reasoned, logic-based answers and not just opinion (Confidence Without Attitude).

“Finally, a big part of what drew us all to this project is the fact that it’s not just a business—we’re able to go beyond ourselves and help remove harmful taboos and misunderstandings around the topic of female sexuality.”

Where the idea came from: “It was mainly from Liz’s experience. She’s studied human sexuality from an artistic, philosophical, and sociological perspective for nearly a decade now since college, and in the past few years has sold sex toys as a sales consultant. She has gotten to talk with a lot of women about vibrators and has seen basically all the products on the market. When Startup Weekend Berkeley rolled around (a weekend “hackathon” where you build a startup from scratch) she was ready with her idea, and we were off to the races from there,” Wang explains.

Most memorable SXSW experience outside of the competition: “Some members of our team got to meet Grumpy Cat. During a panel that one of our teammates attended, Shaquille O’Neal popped in as a surprise guest. That same teammate, tagging along with a new friend from the pitch event, ended up at a small, intimate dinner event with Hunter Biden (Joe Biden’s son),” Wang recalls.

“Personally, even though I was in Austin for less than 24 hours, I ended up having a long talk with my UberX driver on the way to the airport –he’s a music photographer in Austin now, but turned out to have worked at Google, and we ended up talking about the future of smart medical devices, artificial intelligence, and the different management styles of companies in the Valley. You never know who you’ll meet at a place like SXSW!”

Learn more about SmartBod at smartbod.co.

Berkeley MBA Students Mix with Big Leagues on East Coast Sports Trek

Students at Major League Baseball.com: Peter Garai, Albert Cheng, Juan De Jesus,  Anne Lewandowski, Juan De Jesus, Brandon Doll, and Ryo Itoh.

Students at Major League Baseball.com: Peter Garai, MBA 15; Albert Cheng, MBA 16; Anne Lewandowski, MBA 14; Juan De Jesus, MBA 15; Brandon Doll, MBA 14; and Ryo Itoh, MBA 15.

A small team of Haas students tackled the contact sport of networking on the East Coast at the end of last month while attending the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference and meeting with New York execs from the major sports leagues.

It was Berkeley MBA student Brandon Doll’s second time at the Sloan conference. Last year, after attending “from more of a sports fan’s perspective,” Doll was inspired to pursue a career in the sports industry. “It was a different experience this year. My strategy for the conference was a lot more targeted in terms of what panels I attended and who I was looking to connect with,” says Doll, MBA 14.

Doll, who currently has an internship with the Oakland Raiders, targeted people at sports technology companies and executives working for professional teams and leagues in business development, a job function he hopes to pursue after graduation.

Doll’s interest in sports stems from his grandfather, Don Doll, who played in the NFL for six years and then coached pro footbal for 25 years: “ I grew up in a family where sports were very important. For my grandfather, it was his livelihood.”

Sports also have a played an important role in the life of Paul Simpson, a student in the Berkeley MBA for Executives Program. Simpson played college basketball, and in addition to founding a tech company, is a founding partner of EDGE Basketball Academy, which trains high school and college students in basketball and provides academic mentoring and support.

Simpson, EMBA 14, was especially fascinated by not only the use of analytics on display at the conference but also the advancement of analytics across sports.

Moneyball 2.0

“Think of it as Moneyball 2.0,” says Simpson. Teams have gone from using analytics to choose players, as featured in the book and movie Moneyball, to using analytics to determine the best combination of players to put on the field, how to best encourage fans to attend games instead of watching on TV, and how to drive sales of specific foods, he explains.

Meanwhile, a panel on how team owners manage transition applied directly to Simpson’s daily experience as CEO of a tech company.

In particular, Simpson recalls, Vivek Ranadivé, owner of the Sacramento Kings, said owners want to do things that matter, and that drive helps them lead in a way that communicates to employees that “transition can be the catalyst of hope.”

sports_SSAC14_300

Students at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: Ryo Ito, MBA 15; Brandon Doll, MBA 14; Juan De Jesus, MBA 15; Peter Garai, MBA 15; and Paul Simpson, EMBA 14.

After the Sloan Conference, several Haas students traveled to New York to meet with execs from the NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, and Major League Baseball.com. The meetings were organized by Doll and Juan De Jesus, MBA 15, who worked for Major League Baseball before coming to Haas.

“The trek was a great opportunity to apply some of the key management concepts that we have learned at Haas to the sports business,” says De Jesus.  “I now have a better understanding of the key issues that all the leagues are trying to solve and am excited to ideate potential solutions while at Haas.”

“It was really interesting to compare the different leagues,” adds Anne Lewandowski, MBA 14, a huge Red Sox fan and active member of the MBA students’ Sports Business Club. “You could see the spectrum business savvy, how international they are, and what they are doing with technology and marketing,” she says, noting MLB.com looked like a San Francisco-style startup while the offices of the other leagues felt more corporate.

No More Old Boys’ Club?

Lewandowski was pleasantly surprised by the number of women they met. She especially enjoyed meeting one female executive in major league baseball who also had held high-level positions at two top professional teams. The executive described how she successfully negotiated a contract with a baseball player when she was with a team by taking a more empathetic approach to negotiations rather than just focusing on dollars.

“I could have talked to her for hours. She was so interesting,” says Lewandowski, who hopes to land a job in corporate strategy but is not yet sure in what industry.

“Even if I don’t ultimately make my career in sports, this trip was just one of those great experiences that crystallized that our classmates really did go beyond themselves, especially Juan and Brandon, in terms of organizing this trip and getting these meetings,” she says of the New York sports trek. “It showed the strength of the Haas network and my classmates’ willingness to stick their necks out and help us have a really fantastic experience.”

Berkeley MBA Students Take Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

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Berkeley MBA students braved frigid 53-degree bay waters last weekend to raise money for the Special Olympics Northern California as part of the organization’s largest fundraiser, the Polar Plunge. With the theme “Don’t Feed the Animals,” the plunge in San Francisco Bay drew 16 Haas students, who raised $801 for the Special Olympics. Every $125 raised sponsors one athlete for a year.

“We were really proud to do our small part in raising money for this great cause, and as the pictures show, had some fun doing it,” says Joe Regenbogen, MBA 15.

Winners: Haas Students Score Touchdown in NFL Case Challenge

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The Competition: NFL Case Challenge

The Outcome: Haas took first place in the finals Feb. 14 at the NFL offices in Culver City, Calif, in front of a panel of NFL and university judges. Each member of the winning team received an Xbox One console and a copy of Madden 25.

The Teams: The winning Haas team consisted of Brandon Doll, Steffanie Johnson-Magnus and Natalie Rudd, all MBA 14. A second Haas team that competed in the the finals was composed of Lindsey Schatzberg, Robert Shaye, Sarah Walker, and Vishal Shah, all MBA 14.

The Field:  Nineteen teams from Berkeley-Haas, USC Marshall, UCLA, and San Diego State University entered the competition. Fourteen Haas teams applied to be in the finals, winnowed down to the two teams that competed. The two Berkeley MBA teams competed against one finalist from USC, one from SDSU, and two from UCLA.

The Challenge:  Students were asked to recommend a new program or product that would drive growth for NFL Media. The winning Haas team proposed a behind-the-scenes documentary called The Grind: Road to the International Series, to be produced by NFL Films and broadcast in the UK, which has hosted the American football games since 2007. The documentary would feature teams, fans, families and others involved on the road to London’s 2014 International Series Kickoff game: Raiders vs. Dolphins. The documentary promised “a unique storytelling experience by taking viewers deeper into the worlds of the two teams and their fans as they prepare to meet on the field in London,” according to Rudd.

What made them winners: During Q&A feedback, George Scott, general manager of NFL Club Sites for the Media Group, said: “Halfway through your presentation, I’m hitting myself in the head, thinking, ‘How are we not doing this already?  We need to do this!”

In announcing the winning team, Tom Brady, VP of content for the NFL Media Group, said: “If you’re selling something, you have to tell a story.  And when it came down to it, one group told their story just a little bit better.”

Johnson-Magnus added, “We faced an outstanding group of teams. I think what ultimately set us apart from the competition was that we not only had a great story, but we also had a great plan for taking it from concept to consumption through the intended distribution channels, the promotional strategy, and expected revenue streams.”

The H Factor: Johnson-Magnus says the team drew from two Haas courses in particular: Core Strategy with Assistant Professor Ned Augenblick and Brand Strategy Boot Camp with Lecturer Bill Pearce, former chief marketing officer of Del Monte.

Gratitude: “We’d definitely like to thank Keith Smith aka Crusader Raider, of London, England, for sharing his 30-year journey of being Raider fan in the UK with us, especially while recovering from knee surgery in the hospital,” Rudd says. “We’d also like to thank Eyal Gutentag, BS 97, a Haas alum and NFL’s VP of business intelligence and user acquisition, for inviting us to this competition and flying all the way to Berkeley to kick off the competition in person.“