“Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.”
After a busy (but restful) weekend, the second week of [email protected] began with one of the most highly anticipated lectures: Strategy with Deputy Dean Peter Zemsky. This was a day of understanding what drives companies, and what contributes to the contribution and growth of running a business. The room was buzzing with knowledge and understanding as the students were made privy to new insights, and the lecture was an excellent prelude to the visit to BlaBlaCar, and an added bonus to apply to their YFCD simulation.
The students became substitute executives of BlaBlaCar, where they were required to think about the most important factors of a potential new market, choose two to compare and analyse, and then finally choose one market into which they would expand BlaBlaCar next. All of the teams took to the challenge, trying to think as creatively and “outside the box” as they could; teams contrasted competitors as diverse as Switzerland and India, and other countries included the U.S., Japan, Finland, Australia and more. They analysed the population, traffic, petrol prices, passenger-to-car ratios and applying theoretical knowledge in the most practical way possible.
The latter half of the session involved analysing specific aspects of the case study – looking at where BlaBlaCar is currently most successful, how it adapts marketing strategies to necessary countries, and its expansion of product portfolios. Students were attributing BlaBlaCar’s successful (and not-so-successful) cases of market growth to tools learned in Erin Meyer’s “Navigating the Cultural Mindfield” talk, with our very own Tilda saying that she was certain BlaBlaCar wouldn’t work in Finland because of their reluctance to trust.
As we ended the session with a debrief, students had their minds boggled by learning that companies like BlaBlaCar and Uber are actually facing negative cash flow, and the importance of “creating and capturing value and how there is no point in creating value if you can’t capture it effectively.” (Christian)
We concluded with learning about short-term, medium-term and long-term strategy, as Amadeo reflected “strategy is incredibly important when it comes to running a business. The strategy you use will dictate the direction your company goes in, therefore deciding whether you will be successful or not. I also learned that it is alright to lose money in a startup as you invest in the company and begin to grow your cash flow years after.”
After a long, and intense day talking BlaBlaCar, we ended the evening with free time, where students were seen playing a competitive game of Foosball (with some lovely piano drifting through Freddy’s Bar) or lounging on the hammocks outside.
~ Romanshi Gupta