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Groupon Case Competition

Groupon case competition results in two first-prize winners

Groupon Case Competition

Huan Zhou MA ’13
April 19, 2012

The teams of students participating in the seventh annual Case Competition at Brandeis International Business School (IBS) on April 19 did such good job of analyzing Groupon’s problems and developing strategies for the company that judges couldn’t pick a single winner.

After a long and intense deliberation, the panel of four judges declared two teams the top winners and gave high praises to the third in the competition sponsored by the Brandeis Consulting Club in collaboration with the International Marketing Club.

“I was impressed with their creativity,” said judge Robert J. Thomas, Brandeis IBS professor of leadership and executive director at Accenture Institute for High Performance. “They really did their homework and got savvy about internet marketing in a hurry.”

Participants said they enjoyed putting into practice what they’ve been learning in the classroom, although it came at a time when they are also busily preparing for the end of the year and studying for finals.

“It’s different from class, because although we had a deadline, we had to structure our time and the work ourselves,” said Carlo Franke MA ’13, a member of one of the first place teams.

For the competition, several teams of students submitted applications earlier this year. From those, three were chosen to present their strategy to the judges. The competition brings together students from various parts of the school.

“This is good because everybody learned from each other,” said Franke’s teammate, Agata Amorim MBA ’13.

grouponcasecompetition

Robert J. Thomas, a professor at Brandeis IBS and executive director at Accenture

Although the teams came up with a wide range of solutions, they revolved around the conclusion that the very thing that made Groupon a worldwide success is at the core of its troubles today.  The company partners with businesses to offer discounts to a captive audience, but the idea is so simple and so popular that it has drawn numerous competitors, eroding Groupon’s market share. The answer, the students said, is to build loyalty both among those seeking discounts, as well as those offering them. The teams also suggested ways to restructure the company to make it more efficient.

 “We started with the financial statements and it looked really bad,” said Raja Roy MBA ’13, a member of the other first place team. “But when you look at how they are doing, you can see ways to create value.”

The students were judged on their quantitative and qualitative analysis, case recommendations and presentations. All three teams were awarded a Groupon gift certificate. Accenture made an impromptu donation so that two teams could be awarded first prize.

The real benefit of the competition, however, is giving students an opportunity to work on a current real world problem and to make a real world style presentation.

“This provides an avenue for students to try out and practice what they’ve learned in class,” said Archana KC MBA '13, the incoming president of the Consulting Club. “This is real consulting work and helps us understand how we can apply what we’ve been learning.”

It is more effective for students to present in a competitive rather than classroom environment, Thomas said. “It’s tough to do it in front of your peers, plus you have to do it in front of judges who both give and hear presentations all the time,” he said. 

First Place:
    Chenfei Guo MA ’13
    Raja Roy MBA ’13
    Daniel O’Brien MBA ’13
    Chengyu Li MA ’13
    and
    Agata Amorim MBA ’13
    Carlo Franke MA ’13
    Mitt Koroteyew MBA ’13
    Allan Tamen MBA ’13

Second Place:
    Huan Zhou MA ’13
    Ebenezer Amoh MA ’13
    Danzenglagui Danzenglagui MA ’13
    Kevin Zhu MSF ’12

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