The Design and Innovation Strategy Club (DISC) at Haas will help solve a critical business challenge for bicycle maker Specialized when students gather for a one-day Innovation Challenge Oct. 25.
The challenge, held at the Berkeley-Haas Innovation Lab inside Memorial Stadium, offers opportunities to deepen classroom learning by applying lessons to real-world problems, combining creativity with traditional MBA skills.
Last year, students developed an after-school program for a charter management organization that ran schools in East San Jose. This year’s challenge will be to develop plans for Specialized in Morgan Hill, Calif., to reach consumers outside of its core bicycle dealer network.
“It’s a way for MBA students to get inside a real case, present solutions and get feedback from the company,” said Katerina Barilov, MBA 15, a DISC club member and avid cyclist, who is organizing this year’s challenge with Sandeep Pahuja, MBA 15, who worked as a business designer at IDEO last summer, and Dan Goldman, MBA 15.
Before coming up with this year’s challenge, Barilov called on a friend from her Berkeley undergrad days, Katerina Zorina, BS 08, an interaction designer at IDEO, a company that has worked with Specialized in the past. “She became excited about the challenge as a chance to teach people in business about design."
The two got together to discuss companies they might want to work with, and Specialized came up. “We both feel cycling is such a positive and engaging activity, and Specialized is one of the biggest in the area,” Barilov says.
Sean Estes, a Specialized spokesman, says the company is looking forward to working with IDEO and DISC on the project. “For starters, our company mantra is “innovate or die,” so pushing boundaries – both in product and process – has been the foundation of our cultural and financial growth,” he says. Specialized was once a Silicon Valley startup, he adds, “so having the opportunity to get involved (with IDEO) and the new generation of upcoming entrepreneurs and give back some of what we have learned also feels really important.”
A total of 32 students from Berkeley-Haas and 10 students from within other Berkeley schools, including Engineering and Design, will be accepted for the challenge. Organizers are now accepting applications and will evaluate students who are most prepared to take on the challenge, which is intense. Each team, in one day, must develop a plan that includes goals, methods, and staffing requirements and present it to a panel of judges.
All applicants receive background information about Specialized so they can do homework on the company to prepare.
“The response has been overwhelming,” says Barilov, who encourages students to apply soon because openings are available.
The applicants accepted to participate will leave the day having gone through the design process from start to finish. Specialized will receive eight new ideas to solve their core business problems, Pahuja says. More information is available here: http://haas.campusgroups.com/disc/about/.