The Competition: BeAVC Venture Capital Case Competition
The Outcome: 1st place, tied with another Berkeley team (which from Haas only included incoming business student Jasmine Stoy, BS 16)
The Team: Tammie Chen, BS/BA 14 (Bus./Econ.); Shanna Su, BS/BA 14 (Bus./Stat.); Evan Xu, BA 14 (Stat./Soc.); Jason Zhao, BA 15 (Econ./Stat.)
The Field: 110 students from 29 teams from Berkeley and Stanford competed, and five finalists were chosen to present at Tenaya Capital in Palo Alto in front of a panel of venture capitals composed of Ben Boyer, of Tenaya Capital; Hans Tung, of GGV Capital; and Asheem Chandna, of Greylock.
The Challenge: Identify and recommend an intriguing early-stage company in the areas of consumer Internet, software-as-a-service, or mobile. Present with PowerPoint presentation and executive investment thesis.
What made them winners (in the team’s own words):
Good company choice, and we went out of our way to learn more about the company. Our recommendation, RetailNext, provides big data analytics for offline retailers. It combines the $17 trillion retail market with the lucrative Saas solution. It also provides industry leading products and has been expanding rapidly, operating in more than 33 different countries.
Our recommendation that RetailNext is a promising investment, using big data analytics to solve the problems that many brick-and-mortar retailers face today, resonated with the venture capitalist judges. Also, our team has got tremendous help from the RetailNext management team. Because the company is still private, there is not too much public information available about it. Therefore, it was critical that the company provided precious insights on their vision going forward as well as its strong defensibility against competitors in the space.
Deep analysis–we understood and analyzed RetailNext’s value proposition well. After our conversation and office visits, we believe RetailNext’s true value lies beyond its leading in-store analytics products, and instead in creating this ecosystem that could benefit all relevant parties in the value chain, including retailers and shoppers.
Team dynamics—the team is well diversified. Three of the four team members previously worked on a team together and won second place in the Goldman Sachs Case Competition and the Alpine Investors Private Equity Case Competition, so experience and chemistry among team members definitely helped.
The fourth teammate, Jason Zhao, showed his passion to learn (it was his first case competition ever), so we took him on board and taught him everything we could to ensure it is a valuable learning experience for him. During the process we also learned from his work ethic and benefited from his contribution, Confidence Without Attitude.
Each person comes from a unique background and has a definite role. Tammie Chen, who is joining Morgan Stanley, was responsible of financial projections. Shanna Su, joining Cornerstone Research, led strategy. Evan Xu, who will join an San Francisco private equity firm, took charge of using various presentation designs to express our points in the most effective way. And Jason Zhao, who will intern as a data scientist, was responsible for researching and making sense of available data. Yet everyone challenged each other all the time to ensure we dug deeper in the analysis than what most teams would do. We couldn’t think of too many points that looked exactly the same as our first drafts. We constantly improved after heated debates, in which we Questioned the Status Quo.
The Haas Factor:
Prior to the case competition, we received tremendous help from Haas. Tammie and Shanna were both trained by the Haas external case competition team, and have represented Haas to compete in international competitions in Canada and Serbia this semester.
Classes we took that helped us understand the alternative investing world better and gave us the skills to analyze below the surface include Rob Chandra’s Alternative Investing (UGBA 195), Steve Etter’s Advanced Corporate Finance (UGBA 131), and Reza Moazzami’s Strategies for IT firms (UGBA 190T).
Most memorable experience from the competition:
We learned a tremendous amount from weeks of staying up until 5 a.m. researching and understanding the industry dynamics, RetailNext’s true value proposition, and relevant or even peripheral information. We were able to present our well-thought-out and well-designed presentation in front of some of the most reputable investors and showed the venture capital world what Berkeley students were capable of doing in the heated competition between Berkeley and Stanford in the startup world. We also got support and dress shirts with RetailNext’s logo from the management that we wore to the presentation–dress to impress. The presentation was held on the second to last day of instructions at Berkeley, so we three seniors concluded the college education at Berkeley with a perfect ending, yet it’s also a beginning to a new chapter of career and ventures.