The MBA Ball on the 28th of March, 2013 was when we officially bid our farewells to the Class of 2013. While many have already left Manchester, many others have been around and are often seen working in G8. As they begin to leave to start their new lives in new cities with new jobs, I think this would be a great opportunity to bid them farewell once again.
When I walked into the Great Hall, it was draped in an elegant combination of red, blue and black in keeping with the theme of ‘Fire and Ice’. It looked amazing and I was sure the Class of 2013 would like it. It was their evening after all. The night started off with some sparkling wine followed by a three-course meal. Dinner was peppered with some speeches by Prof Luger, Prof Elaine Ferneley, and the outgoing and incoming Presidents – Akshay and Reid. I don’t think anyone will forget that Prof Ferneley, in her usual style, stood up on the chair to speak, and that Akshay, as is his usual style, spoke longer than he needed to. The Class of 2013 band topped it off with a fabulous performance as they played together for the last time. The Class of 2014 band certainly has some high expectations to live up to.
Through the night, I looked at the camaraderie that had developed between the students of the Class of 2013 and I wondered what it would be like for us next year. The last 8 months at MBS have been rewarding and a lesson in teamwork and team building. I have seen people from 28 countries come together as one large team of 111. While I do look forward to graduating, I do not look forward to bidding my classmates goodbye.
It has been exactly one month since the MBA Ball at the Palace Hotel and time has flown since. I still remember frantically looking for the perfect gown and convincing the men to wear tuxedos. I still remember sending out the invitations and sorting out the seating arrangements. I also still remember how I couldn’t have done it without the team – Adriana, Patrick, Angela, Kelly, Lanrong and Reid. I can’t thank you enough.
One week out from the Sustainable Venture Capital Investment Competition (SVCIC) and already, the whole experience seems surreal. After spending the better part of the term researching how to measure social returns for sustainable companies, all of a sudden Monday evening had arrived; bringing with it three business plans for our team to review. I think the biggest reason for our success was our balance between capturing a mixture hard work while also enjoying ourselves. In my opinion, both these elements played a critical role in our team’s victory at the University of North Carolina (UNC).
After speaking with the other teams following the competition, we realised that we had out-prepared everyone there. Not only through reading written materials in the months leading up to the competition, but also by seeking out industry experts and school victors from previous years. We were the most prepared team and it showed to the judges.
However, I believe the other key to our success was being able to enjoy ourselves throughout a stressful week. While it’s important to take things seriously, it’s also important to enjoy what you’re doing. I truly enjoyed working with my team, and this made me want to work hard on behalf of them. They also knew when to tell jokes to lighten the mood, such as when my nerves started to get the best of me right before I was scheduled to present our recommendations to the panel of judges. However, they reminded me to just go out and have fun, and this came through during my presentation.
I write this at Chicago O’ Hare airport, slumped in my seat, tired but still ecstatic after a four day blur that saw the Manchester Business School team win the 2013 global final of the Sustainable Venture Capital International Competition (SVCIC).
I still can’t believe we did it, beating top b-schools from the US and Europe to the prize. As the winners name was read out I stayed rooted to the spot, unable to believe what I’d just heard, whilst my team mates cavorted around like dizzy spring lambs, high on victory.
The process didn’t start well; we almost missed the flight due to chaos at Manchester airport and continued in a jet lagged blur until we reached the host school – UNC Kenen Flagler in North Carolina. There we had a brief chance to chat with the competing teams before hearing the business plan pitches from three sustainable/social entrepreneurs. We then had half an hour to confirm the questions we wanted to ask them before we were thrown into a due diligence session. The challenge there was to establish a good rapport with the entrepreneurs so they felt comfortable enough to answer our probing questions. All this with hawk-eyed judges sitting over our shoulder, assessing us on whether we were asking the right questions.
Finally, we had to present our investment recommendation to all the judges who then had a chance to grill us on our VC knowledge in an intense question and answer session.
You’ll hear more in due course about the ingredients for this momentous success but needless to say it involved teamwork, dynamism, hard graft and determination mixed with a dollop of luck.
I’ll say it again to see if it seems more real: we did it. MBS 2013 SVCIC world champions!!!
Following up on the Sports Analytics conference that my two colleagues talked about, I wanted to share two personal highlights for me at the conference. On the first day of the conference the team sat in on a panel called “True Performance & The Science of Randomness.” The Panel focus was on examining how teams can better forecast results by understanding what is random or “lucky” and what is true performance. This personally related to me as my old high school coach used to always tell us that hard work creates luck. The panel discussed everything from player movements, to sports betting, to setting up player contracts to reduce risks and incentivize. After the discussion the team got a chance to meet the General Manager of the Houston Rockets of the NBA, Daryl Morey, and ask him some questions. One of the questions the team asked was “Do teams use decision trees and real options and if so how, when negotiating and writing contracts with players?” Daryl answered that the use of options are starting to become more popular in the NBA but few teams actually use it. He said “his team is starting to evaluate and utilize options more in their decision making as a way to reduce risk and to properly incentivise their players.”
The other highlight for me was meeting David Kaval, President of the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer. David was on the panel of Ticketing Analytics and how firms such as Ticketmaster and Stubhub use Analytics and dynamic pricing to determine the appropriate pricing levels to maximize revenues. One of the hot topics discussed in the panel was the use of personal data to customize offerings to consumers. An example that was given was that through the app “Yodder” fans at an Earthquakes game could order a hot chocolate during the match and have it delivered to their seats. David gave an example of his wife ordering a hot chocolate at the 60th minute of each game, and that after a few times using analytics Yodder would actually push a text message to the fan at the 58th minute of future games asking if they wanted their hot chocolate. A fascinating advancement in customer service, but for me it raised a concern about how to balance customer privacy with customization. After the panel the team again was able to get some one on one time with the speakers and we got a chance to ask David that question. This led to a lively fun debate, with my side being you have to be careful and giving a few examples of data privacy case studies we’ve had from class, and David saying he’d like to keep pushing the envelope to see how far they could take it. Although our sides didn’t quite agree, we had a fun time and both agreed that customizing products for the fans was more important than ever.
The conference itself presented multiple opportunities like the two mentioned above but I thought I share two of my personal highlights. Until next time.
Jason & Rachel with Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Houston Rockets from the NBA
Twenty four hours to go before it all kicks off in earnest and the adrenaline is now beginning to pump.
In one day’s time we will be receiving the live business plans for the sustainable venture capital international competition. We will then be expected to pick one of those plans to invest in and prepare our case before we fly out to North Carolina to deliver it.
We’ve tried to cover as many bases so we can be as prepared as possible for the plans’ arrival but there’s bound to be something that comes out of leftfield at us.
We’ve had sessions with sustainability professors to understand the latest trends in the sphere and how projects are evaluated for their long term impact. We’ve sat down with venture capitalists to try and burrow into their mindset and understand their investment criteria. Last, but no means least, we’ve also spent many hours together as a team making sure that everyone is clear about their roles so that no time is wasted once the contest begins.
We’ve split the tasks to suit everyone’s strengths. Monica is our sustainability expert so will handle the environmental and social evaluation of the proposals. Jamie comes from a finance background so is in charge of company valuation. Satpreet will look after the due diligence questions and Aditya is our researcher and will pull together the presentation. I will be responsible for co-ordination and writing the term sheet we need to submit (i.e. the terms and conditions we would need before we would invest in a company).
The clock continues to tick – wish us luck!
Being interested in sports and looking to get into the sports industry, the First Pitch competition was a real insight into the industry for whole the team (Reid, Jason and myself). Sponsored by MLB Advanced Media, the competition challenged the team to analyse and examine real-life business decisions and problems faced by MLB.TV. Despite not being one of the final 3, the competition was a fantastic experience. We were not only able to apply knowledge and skills gained during the MBA program but also learn valuable understanding of how to analyse sports business and analytics issues.
Naturally whilst at the conference itself, the three of us were interested to see the three finalist teams present their work. Doing this would allow us to compare the winning strategies with the calculations and solutions we ourselves had worked on. Entering a competition for the first time is always difficult since it’s hard to gauge what the judges are looking for and the level and quality of work other teams will submit. On watching the presentations we can certainly be proud of the work we submitted, which was of equal standing and rigour compared with the other top tier business schools that entered. Additional to the presentations made we were aware that our submission contained a good element of creativity and an angle that others hadn’t considered, so we were intrigued to discover what MLB Advanced Media thought of our concepts. After the presentations were made we chatted with the marketing manager for MLB Advanced Media who commended us for our creativity in considering genuine daily concerns for the business and with this we were really encouraged to always be creative with our work.
I guess that comes from being at MBS, where its clichéd to say but our work really was ‘original thinking applied’. All-in-all the First Pitch competition and conference itself I can safely say was an unforgettable experience.
Between clean energy credits, increased consumer concern about the environment, and rising energy costs; sustainability has become a hot issue in the media and a growing sector for global investment. Major corporations are looking to increase renewables in their energy portfolios and venture capital firms are increasing their stake in this sector. In fact, over the past 10 years U.S. VC investment in cleantech has skyrocketed from $0.45 Bn to $6.5 Bn.
In recent months, MBS’ Sustainable Venture Capital International Competition (SVCIC) team has conducted research around this topic. Our findings indicate that while North America has traditionally dominated the sustainable VC investment market, there has been growing interest among European VCs. Because of this, it’s an exciting time for European entreprenuers to launch cleantech companies.In the UK, we’re also seeing the formation of VC firms that specialise solely in sustainable investments, (e.g., Sustainable Venture launched in 2011). Such specialty funds will greatly enhance the environment for sustainable entreprenuers in the UK.
Our team is excited to bring all this learning to the University of North Carolina (UNC) when we compete in the international SVCIC competition on March 22. Until then, we’ll continue to examine trends and challenges related to cleantech VC investments, and to share highlights on the MBS blog!
Now that the dust has settled from our trip to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference sponsored by ESPN, it is time to reflect on the overall experience. In order to paint a clear picture of the conference and all that led up to it, I’ll start at the beginning.
The team (Rachel Grunwerg, Jason Havinga, and I) received the data and information for the MIT Sloan First Pitch Case Competition only a few weeks in advance of the submission date. The competition itself dealt with maximising the revenue for a specific business within Major League Baseball in the United States.
With the level of motivation and interest each one of us had in the competition, we found ourselves spending every available moment working on the case. As this was the first time Manchester Business School had competed in the competition, we did not quite know what to expect from the competition or the other schools who were taking part.
Once we had submitted our final proposal, it was only a matter of waiting to hear back from the organisers on whether we would be one of the lucky three teams to present their plans at the conference in Boston. Unfortunately, after what felt like an eternity of waiting and constantly checking our email, we were not chosen to present. It would have been nice to present however it did not discourage us from making the most of the overall conference experience.
One of the nice features of the conference is that there are three to four different panel sessions taking place at the same time, so there is a large variety of topics you can experience. The first day (March 1st) we attended a handful of panels – The first being “Revenge of the Nerds”. This panel was comprised of some highly respected individuals including Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks Basketball team and co-founder of HDNet. As the day went by, we managed to attend as many sessions as time allowed including “First Pitch Case Competition Presentations”, “True Performance & The Science of Randomness”, “Sports Business Analytics and Ticketing”, and “Football Analytics”.
While we were amazed by the first day of the conference, the second day was even more impressive than the first. The quality of the panels and insight some of the speakers had was enough to make me want to go back next year. We started the day off with the “Monday Morning Quarterback: Coaching and In-Game Decisions” panel moderated by Tony Reali, host of “Around the Horn” on ESPN. He was joined by Jack Del Rio and Herm Edwards, both of whom are former head coaches in the National Football League in the US. The session was eye-opening to the concept of how statistics influences coaches play calling and strategy in the NFL.
Later in the day we were able to sit in on a few other sessions, including “Competitive Advantage: Sports Business Analytics”, “Soccer Analytics”, and “Predictive Sports Betting Analytics”. What I found interesting during the soccer panel was the point that coaches and clubs are inundated with data and statistics but their biggest problem is analysing the information to find what portions are useful and then how to use it to effectively make future decisions. Adopting analytics into a decision making process was not only a problem for soccer but for all sports with the exception of Baseball.
My favourite session of the entire conference was the predictive sports betting session, not just because it was an interesting topic. The structure of the panel was a perfect balance of two disagreeing points-of-view. The session was moderated by Jeff Ma. He was the basis for the main character of the movie “21” about the MIT Blackjack Team. The panel also included Matthew Holt who is the director of Race & Sports Data for Cantor Gaming as well as Haralabos Voulgaris who is a professional gambler. The chemistry between all of the panellists was what made the session such a great experience.
As could be expected with any conference, there was a significant amount of networking opportunities with other students, professionals, and speakers. If I could go back and do it all again, I would. I know ten years from now I will look back at this competition and conference as one of the best experiences of my MBA.
Four weeks to go before we depart for Manchester Business School’s inaugural entry into the Sustainable Venture Capital International Competition (SVCIC) and the preparation has begun in earnest.
It’s the first time MBS has entered a team into the standard Venture Capital International Competition – where participants play the part of VCs, picking a business plan to invest in (from a Dragons’ Den-style selection of four) and negotiating with an entrepreneur to buy a stake in the enterprise.
SVCIC, however, adds a new dimension. Whilst you still look at which business will deliver the greatest return on investment, you also need to take into account the impact any investment will have on the external environment and question the business model’s sustainability.
Both of these contests fall outside the main core of the MBA programme. They do, however, provide some of the most intense learning moments of the course. Analysing live business plans and taking decisions based on real evidence forces you to apply your classroom learning and challenges your thinking more than any textbook or lecture can. The competitive format adds an additional frisson. You are competing against other teams (from your own school in the preliminary round and from the world’s top business schools in the final rounds), and the innate desire of ‘Type-A’ MBAs to finish number one inevitably creates an ultra competitive environment.
There’s more to come from the team on our preparation, but for now we’re tucked away to bone up our knowledge on the sustainability, cleantech and renewables industries.
Imran Hakim Masterclass
Friday, 8th March
2pm – 3pm
University Place Lecture Theatre A
Imran Hakim will be visiting the University to promote Eureka and whilst here he will also take the opportunity to discuss his entrepreneurial journey, debate the skills required to innovate and host a Q&A session with the student audience.
Imran is one of Britain’s leading young entrepreneurs; he has won numerous awards and his business pitch is regarded as “the best he’s ever heard” by Dragon’s Den judge, Theo Paphitis.
Join Imran Hakim, creator of the iTeddy
- Learn about his entrepreneurial journey
- Share his innovation and business success secrets
- Engage in a Q and A session
- No booking needed, seats allocated on a first come first served basis
Brought to you in support of The University of Manchester Library/MBS Library Eureka! Innovation Challenge
A Manchester graduate and successful businessman since the age of 16, Imran became UMIP’s Director of Entrepreneurship in 2009. He is an optometrist by profession and has won numerous awards over the years in recognition of his endeavours.
Access is on a first come - first served basis.
Don’t miss out on the key MBS presentation of 2013.
Imran Hakim Masterclass, Friday, 8th March.
2pm – 3pm
University Place Lecture Theatre A