Economics Students Win Business Competition

Eight Choate students traveled over 200 miles to attend the 2017 Penn Business Case Competition at Swarthmore College on Sunday, April 9. Choate brought two teams of economics students, winning first and second place. During the competition, teams planned and presented business strategies based on a case study. The winning team was a group of five juniors — Jack Bergantino ’18, Jonah Berman ’18, Nikhil Davar ’18, Dilibe Iloeje ’18, and Imad Rizvi ’18. The runner-up team was comprised of Matt Diemand ’17, Andrew Garver ’17, and Alex Overmeer ’17. Choate competed against three New England schools: Germantown Academy, Friends School Select of Philadelphia, and The Hun School of Princeton.

Choate economics students, mainly from the entrepreneurship class, were invited to enter a preliminary round of the competition. Several teams from New England private schools were asked to come up with a business plan based on a 2007 case study of Netflix. The teams had one week to compose the four page plan and email it to the hosts of the event. According to Mr. Sam Doak, the groups utilized a common framework known as SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to analyze the company.

On competition day, the teams were asked to conduct a similar task. Teams were challenged to compose a draft of recommendations for Uber based on a case study from 2016. With the Internet, Powerpoint, and a twenty page guide at their disposal, the teams prepared a ten minute presentation for a panel of judges followed by five minutes of Q&A. Bergantino said, “Crafting and presenting a business proposal was an excellent real world experience.”

The judges used a rubric to grade each presentation. The judging hinged on coming up with a comprehensive and creative proposal, the feasibility of that proposal, and good presentation skills. In each category on the rubric, judges gave a score from one to ten. Mr. Doak believed that Choate students did well during the presentation portion of the competition because of the presentation skills they developed in economics classes.

In the end, the winning group had the most creative and novel business plan. Although they were a “wild card team” according to Mr. Doak, since they had to step up when one of the teams could not attend the competition, they won first place.

Rizvi said, “One takeaway was the importance of creativity: Our presentation was not the best, but our ideas were unique, which ultimately helped us win.”

Mr. Doak added that students had “the opportunity to immerse themselves in the history of a young company and collaborate on a team project together.” Many students also thought that the competition improved their improvisation skills and ability to work under a time crunch. Berman  said, “We gained experience communicating our ideas under time pressure.”

Iloeje  concluded, “I was able to enjoy an intense day of competition with a great group of funny and intelligent people.”

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