Traveling to Thailand for my first business challenge
As natives of Brazil, Thiago Pinto ’15 and I want to give back to our homeland. Thanks to our time at Kellogg, we’re on our way to accomplishing that goal.
We wanted to leverage what we’re learning at Kellogg to impact Brazil’s economy, and we think we can do that by transforming the country’s underserved recycling industry. That is why we created New Hope Ecotech, a B2B startup that aims to connect packaged goods manufacturers with waste collectors via direct servicing and tradable environmental securities.
We recently pitched our company in the mai Bangkok Business Challenge in Thailand, and after finishing second in the competition, we’re ready to take what we learned and continue building a company we think will have a great social impact.
To join the competition was not an easy decision. The competition is organized by the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, part of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. That meant we needed to fly for 24 hours and represent our venture with 12-hour jet lag, miss a couple of great classes and come back to midterm exams with some more jet lag.
But every (sleepy) minute of the experience was worth the effort. We were able to receive constructive feedback from people who have diverse cultures and backgrounds. With that, we learned that a good business idea with true social impact can bring great minds together and overcome cultural and physical barriers.
The mai Bangkok Business Challenge was not just a competition. It was a new venture pitch bootcamp, and it turned out to be a much bigger event than we imagined. The six final-round presentations were broadcast through a local channel called Money Channel and were available for live stream on the channels’ website. After the competition was finished, the school took all 16 teams on a boat cruise. To top it off, the award ceremony had a special guest: a representative of Thailand’s King
As for the challenge, I have to talk about all the work we did prior to the celebration.
We arrived in Bangkok on a Thursday at 9 a.m. We ran to the hotel, then to the school because we had to prepare our venture booth before noon. Then, after a photo shoot, we had some time to rehearse our pitch because the first session of presentations was that afternoon! We had the chance to receive valuable feedback from a five-person jury following that presentation.. After the opening ceremony, all 16 teams presented a 99-second pitch to the audience.
The next day, thanks to the jet lag, we woke up at 4 a.m. and had enough time to adapt our presentation based on the feedback we received during the first round. We had an amazing Thai breakfast that was followed by the semifinal round presentation. During the afternoon, we had 30 minutes with the semifinal jury to receive more feedback!
Twelve of the teams had to present again (for the third time in 24 hours) in the playoff round. Luckily for us, it was naptime. We were one of the four teams to go straight to the final round! Friday night was time to celebrate with a dinner filled with delicious food and Thai music.
Saturday, the big day, finally arrived. Our final-round presentation was broadcast and we made it to the first runner-up position!
The award ceremony was followed by a dinner cruise on the Chaophraya. And that is how those three days of “bootcamp” finished. It was already time to start our 24 hours of travel again.
Khob khun ka (Thank you), Sasin!
Luciana Oliveira ’15 is a second-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time MBA Program. Earlier this year, she was named one of Kellogg’s 10 Zell Scholars, a program created to provide support for students looking to turn their startups into market- and funding-ready businesses.