Friday, April 20, 2012

Helping a start-up secure investment to expand into the US


By Yusuke Takahashi
First- year MBA - Entrepreneurship Academy

My name is Yusuke Takahashi and I am the first Japanese student who joined GLOBASE at Kelley. I had a great experience in Guatemala, so I would like to share this experience here.
First, I would like to mention the reason why I joined GLOBASE Guatemala. I have my family business, so I hoped to get involved in a small business project that would help me in the future. Also, my long term goal is to internationalize my family business, so I thought that if GLOBASE had this kind of project, this would be ideal for me. Luckily, GLOBASE Guatemala had exactly the kind of project I was hoping for, and I was assigned to this project. Our team’s project was to help our client export their bamboo products to the US. We were asked to establish brands, distribution strategies, and pricing strategies in the US, and to research “green” certifications and states where there is sufficient market potential. After 7 weeks of intensive preparation at Kelley (meetings with our team, our client, and leadership team), we went to Guatemala to complete our consulting. We worked on our project from morning to early-evening every day during the first week. We had a meeting every day with our client’s CMO, he provided us with some feedback every time and our consulting project was gradually completed.  
All bamboo products are handmade
We found a surprising fact after one of our teammate did an executive summary to our client on Thursday, the second to last day of our project work. The client informed us that our project deliverable was too general, “so I cannot let you make a presentation to our board member, who invested in our business.” We did not hear about this fact. All of us involved - our student team, our faculty and staff sponsors (Phil and Ana), and our leadership team - did not expect such a high level of expectations, but I felt lucky because I could have this high level consulting experience in an MBA program. In addition, I could sympathize with what the client said.
The constructive feedback we received made us hold together more. On Thursday night, we worked on the project until 4am at our hotel. On Friday morning, some of our team members made an initial presentation to our client before we made a final presentation to her board member. Although time was limited, based on the feedback we received from our client, we intensively researched and quickly modified our presentation on time for our final visit to the corporate office. We successfully finished our presentation to the board member and we received a compliment from the board member. As a result, the corporate office decided to invest on exporting the bamboo products to the US for our client.
Finally, we made a presentation in front of all of the GLOBASE Guatemala members and all clients. There, AMCHAM came to the place and I felt pride for the brand of Kelley. Then, we had a dinner with our clients at Westin Hotel in Guatemala City. We received a plaque from all clients and the plaque included names of every GLOBASE Guatemala student and faculty member. This is the first time for Kelley to receive this kind of plaque for GLOBASE. During dinner, our client sent a message of gratitude to every member.
Team Kelley with our client GUAMBU
I learned and experienced a lot through GLOBASE. In addition to the fact that this consulting project was helpful to my long term goal of my family business, I had to acknowledge the difficulty of consulting and business, and the importance of team work. I also felt our team bond with each other. Without a doubt, this experience was the best I have had at Kelley. To be honest, I was concerned about the visit to Guatemala at first, but I am now very happy about joining GLOBASE Guatemala. I had a great fortune of having a good client, a good leadership team, and good teammates, so this became an excellent memory for me. I also enjoyed sightseeing in Guatemala for the 2nd week. I strongly encourage Kelley students to join GLOBASE and I am honored to have worked with all my GLOBASE peers.

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