Undergrads Win E-Business Case Competition With Focus on eReader Platform Providers

A team of business and engineering undergraduates who proposed a platform strategy for eReaders won the Haas School's 13th annual E-Business Case Competition on Thursday, April 12.

The winning team consisted of Haas students Ryan Liu and Lawrence Liu, both BS  13, and engineering students Prashanth Vijay, BS 13 (Mechanical), and Sumer Joshi, BS 13 (Electrical). Each team in the E-Business Case Competition is required to include a least one Haas student and one non-Haas student.

About 70 classmates and friends gathered to support the three competition final teams, who delivered a fifteen-minute presentation and then fielded questions from four judges.

In this year’s competition, teams were challenged to evaluate the eReader industry and identify investment opportunities. Twenty-five teams submitted complete cases. Of the three finalists, each identified a class of industry “intermediaries,” including software developers and service providers, as best poised to succeed. However, each had a slightly different take.

The winning team recommended that venture capitalists invest in platform providers─such as Next Issue, Apple, and Adobe─who dictate the user experience on such devices as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. "Next-generation eBook platform providers should push additional content, features, and applications to existing and new readers," the team wrote in its PowerPoint presentation. The team determined that platform providers offer the least risk and highest growth potential, and cited an eBook subscription service as one new idea to be explored.

“We were focused on a really specific strategy,” says Liu. He added that the eReader study provided a valuable opportunity to apply business concepts learned at Haas. “It’s one thing to learn in class, but it’s very different to have a real-world application.”

The E-Business Case Competition is sponsored by the Haas Undergraduate Program, the Schlinger Family Foundation, Cisco Systems, and Deloitte Consulting.

Read more about the competition on the Haas Undergraduate Student Blog.