Case Study and Impact Challenge Live Feed

Beginning on Sunday, the first day of the conference, all conference attendees will be participating in either our Case Competition or our Impact challenge. In both, Students will be challenge not just to redefine their conceptions of business, but to implement their unique ideas in a way that will be meaningful and will solve the problems put in front of them. The Case competition, sponsored by EY, challenges students to solve one of the biggest and most pressing challenges faced by companies today: cyber security. Across three separate scenarios, teams will be challenged to come up with solutions that will address the needs of a changing technological marketplace and that will protect the needs of the company they’re put in charge of. The impact challenge sets five of the most promising up and coming companies around the world—all started by our conference attendees—against one another to pick a winner. Judged on the scope of their social impact and each company’s promise to address the changing business needs of tomorrow, all five companies will work hard over the next three days to demonstrate the reach and potential impact of their already impressive ideas.


3:40 pm: EY leaders introduce the case study competition. “I just had my first cronut, my new favorite dessert.”  Introduces the theme of the case study. “Change in business is a constant. What we’re interested in is the rate of change that’s occurring now.”

3:50 pm: Case Study: “When you look forward 10 years, what will the experience be? Screens are so last year. We have to think about using robots for a variety of different things in our lives. We have to imagine how nanotech will pervade every aspect of our lives.” Conclusion: The challenge isn’t that the world is changing, it’s that the rate of change is accelerating.

4:00 pm: Impact challenge: “One of the things I took away from this morning is just how important food challenges will be moving forward. If we don’t solve these problems soon, no other problems will matter.”

4:01 pm: Case Study: “Internally there has been a larger push in all companies, not just the most innovative, in how they can deal with their [digital] assets, and how they can ensure the security of their assets… Some of them don’t know how to tackle the challenge, they just know that its going to be an issue, and they want their best minds covering this incredibly important cause.”

4:02 pm: Impact challenge: “The hardest challenge is making sure that the presentation is clearly well done, in the sense of the tone, the body language and the information. These five startups are amazing, but it’s all about the presentation, it’s all about presenting yourself professionally, successfully and with integrity.”

4:05 pm: Case Study: “Cybersecurity is a companywide challenge. It’s not just about software, it’s about people and you need to educate and prepare every employee to combat this problem. You want to be able to protect anything and everything. No matter the size of the company, the resources could be at risk.”

4:15 pm: Case Study: “As we were thinking about cases, we thought about combining innovative technologies with the risk cases of abuse that we’ve seen throughout the world. All of the cases are inspired by real life scenarios, but not exactly what we’ve seen in real life scenarios. There’s definitely a good amount of imagination involved in the creation of our competition, but they’re all inspired and based on cases you can read on and study in the real world.”

4:20 pm: Impact Challenge: “It’s an amazing experience to get to compete against such great groups. In many ways its positive and negative because the competition pushes us to be our best and it’s flattering to be considered alongside such amazing ideas, but at the same time it’s a very daunting task as well. Either way, we’re really excited for what the next few days will hold.”

4:30 pm: Case Study: “You’re always put into the shoes of a CEO, so you have to look big picture on these issues. You have to make these challenging, difficult decisions. What we’re looking for is how you’re balancing the needs of the company, how you’re promoting growth and how you’re preserving the security of the company. Are you thinking holistically? In addition to focusing on the technical aspects, you have to focus on teamwork and the presentation of your case. It’s always important how something is presented, how well it’s been done, not just the technicality of it. We’re really interested in seeing the great work that you do.”


8:50 am: Case Study: The first case study group is framing the situation. Their company, Connect Switch, which provides IoT services for car manufacturers, is “in an industry that is very exciting” and it possesses first-mover advantage.

8:52 am: Case Study: The presentation, also dealing with Connect Switch, is focusing on the importance of cybersecurity for the company’s product, cars. One important component is “systems that will identify any breaching of the system,” as well as a killswitch “that can override the entire system.” Another recommendation is transplanting existing industry standards from the airplane and drone industry.

8:59 am Impact Challenge: The Releaf group, consisting of six ambitious young Nigerian-Americans (of whom three are present), seeks to “provide consulting services to young Nigerian entrepreneurs using business to instigate social change,” as well as to “integrate Nigerian-Americans, one of the best-educated ethnic groups in the United States, into the Nigerian business world.” They presented examples of entrepreneurs they had helped, and their crucial role in providing capital in a continent where it is often hard to get.

They concluded their inspiring presentation with a touching metaphor: “the world has tried giving aid to Africa; it has not worked so far. Now the world needs to give Africa fishing rods, so that they can fish for themselves.”

9:16 am: Case Study: The group currently presenting is addressing the risks of their strategies. This includes a potential “cultural fit issue.” The overall framework of their solution consists of addressing the current issues and the cybersecurity problems, followed by regular monitoring to be able to identify and deal with any new problems that crop up.

9:26 am: Case Study: The presentation begins with an overview of the company, Connect Switch, and an analysis of the risks. Risks were categorized into critical, high, and low. The group created a solution framework of design, detection, and dedication. The purpose is to focus on improving the system as a whole rather than just defending entrypoints, to avoid “treating the symptom, not the disease.”

9:36 am: Impact Challenge: The AsylumConnect presentation, an app for LGBT asylum seekers, is just wrapping up. One of the judges had questions regarding the small base (given that only a small number of asylum seekers are accepted), and how AsylumConnect differentiates itself from governmental services. The presenters smoothly answered these concerns: the organization focuses on the 300,000 asylum seekers in the US whose applications are being processed, a sizeable base, and governmental services provide only legal services.

9:50 am: Impact Challenge: Greensole, an Indian venture, collects discarded footwear, recycles them into slippers at a facility in Mumbai through an industrial process invented by the founders, and sells them. It takes its Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously by providing free recycled footwear to the needy. Its impact is two-fold: It provides the needy with footwear and “with dignity,” and it reduces CO2 emissions through recycling. The presentation cycled through the financials, media presence, future plans for expansion, and corporate partners, in addition to providing visual examples of the needy who have been helped.

10:07 am: Case Study: One group came up with a robust 5-year plan to address the issues of their case study firm, DirectGoods, a drone company. The two main problems they identified were the distinguishing of authorized and unauthorized drones, and the lack of adequate cybersecurity. To deal with the first issue, an innovative system is presented: existing and new drones will be fitted with security chips and three specialized drones will be used to monitor the airspace.

10:24 am Case Study: A presentation begins with an overview of Direct Goods; due to its low margin, DG is referred to as the “’Walmart’ of the industry.” Their solution is holistic, because “cybersecurity is not just a tech issue,” adopting a funnel framework with governance at the top and tech at the bottom.

10:33 am: Impact Challenge: SmileyGo, whose purpose is to “use data to give people what they deserve” by measuring the impact of companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility policies, is finishing their presentation by presenting the people of SmileyGo. In the words of the Algorithm Manager, “individual goals are great, but how much greater are team goals,” and for this reason each individual’s contribution and the value of teamwork is highlighted. The team behind SmileyGo is clearly passionate about their purpose; the Algorithm Manager, a student at Stanford, “want[s] to use what I’ve learned for the common good.”

10:52 am: Case Study: This solution to the problems of Direct Goods focused on preventative action, addressing concerns before cyberattacks and new regulations rather than responding reactively. The judges asked why no quantitative model had been used to provide data about market share to support the conclusions reached, to which the presenters responded that this would involve too many assumptions due to the lack of raw data to input and that given the structure of the industry such a quantitative analysis was unnecessary.

11:01 am: Impact Challenge: FoodFresh provides an innovative system of cheap, short-term storage of food that uses low temperature for preservation, which it plans to provide to farmers in Bangladesh, most of whom currently have no form of preservation at all or use chemicals. This will have a significant social impact, as a FoodFresh unit, at $25, is considerably cheaper than chemical preservatives or the cost of spoiled produce.

11:23 am: Case Study: Another group discussed MyView, a video surveillance firm. They suggested focusing on the existing product, which already has a competitive advantage, to increase market share. One of the recommendations is to lower the price of old models, much like Apple does with its iPhones, so as to also capture non-premium markets in addition to the premium markets that MyView currently caters to.

1:29 pm: Case Study: "I want to thank all of you for taking the dedication to this process seriously, because it represents the building blocks for solving these real world problems." -Ertem Osmanoglu, Ernst and Young

1:32 pm: Case Study finalists announced: Team 3 and Team 16

2:14 pm: Impact Challenge Finalists Announced: Asylum Connect, which connects LGBT refugees with asylum resources, and Food Fresh, which seeks to provide affordable and available food storage facilities.

3:42 pm: Impact Challenge winner is announced. Congratulations to Asylum Connect, the winner of the Business Today 2015 Impact Challenge!

3:44 pm: Case Challenge winner announced: Congratulations to team 16, the winners of our 2015 Case Competition, presented by Ernst and Young