Endless Networking and Mentorship Opportunities through Open Innovation Course

Professor Solomon Darwin‘s UGBA193i Business Models and Open Innovation in Emerging Economies class is Haas’s pilot travel study course. After returning from India, the 193i students continue to build new relationships with corporate executives as they work on their consulting projects sponsored by multinational companies based in India.

Navi Radjou
Navi Radjou

Just last week, Navi Radjou – Silicon Valley strategy consultant, author of Jugaad Innovation, TED Talk speaker, columnist at Harvard Business Review, fellow at the Judge Business School in University of Cambridge, and 2013 Thinkers50 Global Innovation Award recipient – came to UGBA193i’s Wednesday class to provide customized advice for the student teams’ findings so far.

There are six student groups tackling various innovation challenges drafted by different companies.

  • Apollo Hospitals‘ team will be working on relevant Healthcare Business Models to address the needs of rural India while increasing the company’s profitability;
  • SAP‘s team is looking at organizational structures that will enable SAP R&D Centers to most effectively support business models in Emerging Economies;
  • Xerox‘s team is exploring frugal and reverse innovation business models, specifically in the education field, to drive new revenues for its services business;
  • Philips‘s team is examining models for exploiting cost effective “Lighting Systems” relevant to Emerging Economies;
  • IBM‘s team is developing potential inclusive and sustainable business models that IBM can also benefit from for Education in India; and finally,
  • General Electric‘s team is aiming to create profitable business models that will add value to all stakeholders in the Telemedicine ecosystem of India.

Each student team gave a fifteen-minute presentation about their challenge prompts, company backgrounds, and prospective recommendations for open innovation business models to Radjou. Radjou then responded with insightful questions and advice for students to better their proposals. He also provided access to his article entitled “Frugal innovation: A pioneering strategy from the South” on Planet for Life 2014 to students as an additional reference for their research.

(L-R) Kenny Yu, Rachel Chang, Helen Cai, Swati Dasgupta, Swapnil Dixit, Solomon Darwin, Arushi Saxena, Rafy Choi, Valentina Fung, Sergio Ruiz Ello, Stephanie Tran, Brian Ly, and Diego Balbuena
(L-R) Kenny Yu, Rachel Chang, Helen Cai, Swati Dasgupta, Swapnil Dixit, Solomon Darwin, Arushi Saxena, Rafy Choi, Valentina Fung, Sergio Ruiz Tello, Stephanie Tran, Brian Ly, and Diego Balbuena

Students are also able to network with executives through teleconferences on Adobe Connect, Skype, and Intercall softwares. Over the past two weeks, students have spoken to Indian Haas MBA alums such as Ratnesh SharmaGovind Thirumalai, Rajesh KrishnanVijay Bobba, and Hari Vasudev; all very successful executives in India and in the Bay Area, but have willingly volunteered their time to give back to current Haas undergrads.

Solomon Darwin with Norwegian Professor, Peder Inge Furseth at Monday's lecture, March 3, 2014
Solomon Darwin with Norwegian Professor, Peder Inge Furseth at Monday’s lecture, March 3, 2014

Other prominent professionals 193i students were able to connect with through the course are Vivek Wadwha, Vice President of Innovation and Research at Singularity University and a Fellow at Arthur & Toni Rembe Rock Center for Corporate Governance in Stanford University; Barbara Holzapfel, SVP and Managing Director, SAP Labs North America; and Richard Friedrich, Director of the Strategic Innovation and Research Service at HP Labs. Students will also be engaging with Brad Buss, CFO of Cypress Semiconductors and Tamara St. Claire, Managing Director of Healthcare Provider Solutions at Xerox mid-March.

Today, the students were visited by another group of special guests, namely, Swati Dasgupta, Director of Venture Technology at Siemens TTB, who also has previous experience as a consultant to IBM’s Venture Capital Group, as well as the Strategic Marketing Manager for IBM Microelectronics; Peder Inge Furseth, Associate Professor in the Department of Innovation and Economic Organization at the Norwegian Business School, BI and specializes in executive education courses, research, and professional networks in service innovation, business models and value creation; and Swapnil Dixit, Executive Director at Tata Jagriti Yatra and a current full-time Haas MBA, Class of 2014. Dixit has given a talk at a TEDxNSIT conference entitled: “Unleashing the movement of enterprise led development”, whose research findings he has graciously shared with the 193i students.

IBM Student Team's Stephanie Tran presents to classmates and the class's special guests, Swati, Peder, and Dixit.
IBM Student Team’s Stephanie Tran presents to classmates and the class’s special guests, Swati, Peder, and Dixit.

Students received multiple comments from Dasgupta, Furseth, and Dixit. Although the special guests were impressed by the students’ preparation, they provided constructive criticisms to help students perfect their presentations for next week’s pre-presentations and their final presentations on April 11, 2014. Feedback ranged from selling their ideas better and expressing their challenges more clearly to specific questions about the students’ value propositions’ feasibility, uniqueness, scalability, monetization tactics, and customer acquisition strategies among others.

On March 15 and 17, 2014, students will be participating in pre-presentations with Professor Peder Inge Furseth’s 45 MBA students who will serve as guest judges. These are all part of the UGBA193i Business Models and Open Innovation in Emerging Economies course’s core curriculum of ensuring students’ professionalism and preparedness for their final presentations with projects’ sponsors on April the 11th.

Denice Sy
Class of 2014

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