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Tuesday 19 April 2016

Build to Scale & Last: A Jean-Baptiste Say Entrepreneurship Competition

ESCP Europe Business School's Professor Davide Sola invited students, staff and external guests to join in the judging of the final video presentations by teams of students from the Master in Management 'Enterprise Build Up and Renewal' module in London.

13 teams presented videos they had created to demonstrate how they would help existing start-ups to achieve sustainable, exponential growth for their businesses.

They explored a range of industry sectors, including street food, pricing apps, nutri-ceutical products, charities, online retail platforms and online delicatessens. All the companies involved had agreed to work with the students.

Judging was conducted by event partner iStarter, as well as members of participating organisations. All guests had the chance to choose the role of 'customer', 'industry expert' or 'investor' and vote for their favourite entries.

A Clear Winner: 'I am WLCM'
The favourite for Industry Experts, Investors and Students was the team working on I am WLCM, a fundraising venture set up by seven ESCP Europe Berlin campus students to support the charity Medizin Hilft Fl├╝chtlingen. The charity is focused on improving the plight of refugees in Germany and is helping over 3,000 people in four refugee camps in Berlin.  I am WLCM sell a woolly hat branded as a 'refubeenie' branded with the I am WLCM logo as a stylish way for young customers to demonstrate social engagement.  

The students' idea to 'scale up' the venture was based on research using an online survey, talking to family and friends, background research on the organisation.  They came up with five themes:

  • Adapting the value proposition to an anti-discrimination one, reflecting increasingly negative attitudes towards refugees
  • Expanding the product offer to a range of seasonal clothes and accessories
  • Building strategic partnerships with retailers, voluntary organisations and brand ambassadors to increase distribution outlets and expand the customer base
  • Changing the donation model to show how the funds may be used offering different benefits gained from different donation amounts
  • Building the organisation from a small 'DIY'-style operation to grow in a structured way with processes, communication tools and delegating work to new team members

Members of the winning team were: Jessica Sauren, Karoline Holm, Patrick Dutz, Christina Wagner, Camilla Voci

The Company Representatives' Favourite: EatUpp
Company representatives picked the work for EatUpp, an office lunch delivery service as their favourite. EatUpp provides affordable, freshly prepared healthy meals to offices in 30 minutes, an alternative to going out to cafes and takeaways. They operate 100% online with social media for information, recommendations and reviews.  Their fixed costs are in the core team and a central kitchen and variable costs include assembly kitchens, ingredients and delivery costs. There is an un-recoverable cost in unused perishable food which is wasted.

The students decided to tackle the problem on many fronts, reducing variable costs and diversifying revenues. The aim would be to expand the customer base, create a strong brand, expand flexibly and develop the technology to incorporate an app for mobile phones.

Members of the team were: Joann├Ęs Chapot, Alix Kalfon, Kevin Moore, Alina Razzouk, Corentin Babaud

Their cost-cutting suggestions included using mobile assembly units (vans) and outsourcing some of the assembly work to restaurants; reducing food waste by giving away unsold food approaching its use-by dates in competitions and as free samples or donating it to shelters/centres for the homeless and build a caring image for the brand; cutting packaging costs offering branded reusable boxes; and batching deliveries to make fewer trips.

Customer acquisition recommendations focused on using social media, loyalty schemes and food coupons, especially targeting businesses with clear structure and entry points. Revenue diversification would come from offering a catering service to businesses, moving into a B2B offer with the same product lines.  Optimising and personalising the website (and eventually a mobile app) with customer accounts would aid customer acquisition and retention.

Promoting an Entrepreneurial Spirit

The competition created a lot of buzz on campus and animated discussions about the different ideas continued over the traditional drinks reception.

ESCP Europe's UK Director, Professor Simon Mercado said: "This was another outstanding event, showcasing student creativity and market awareness. It was distinguished by innovative pedagogic practice, including online crowd-marking and video-based presentations of real world scale-up challenges. ESCP Europe talent, innovation and networks have combined to provide unique learning for participants and the supporting businesses."

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