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Drive Into the Future: Annual Case Competition Examines Ride Sharing Company Uber

By Laura Herring

Wisconsin Division Winners

The winners of the Wisconsin Division, team GMA. From left to right: Siwaree Indradat, MSMKTG '15; Katerina Trajkova, MSMKTG '15; Dean Erran Carmel; Tom Shelly, MSMKTG '15; and Alyson Mucha, MSMKTG '15.

How does a company grow when it's already at the top of its game? That was the question posed in the 23rd Annual Kogod Case Competition. Students were tasked with developing a strategy to continue to grow the success of ride sharing company Uber in Washington, D.C., over the next five years.

More than 150 students participated in the annual event. Proposals ranged from instituting customer rewards systems to branching into new customer bases.

"The prompt was definitely geared toward creating an effective marketing strategy," said Ina Bonnier, BSF '16. "That was probably the most challenging for me as a numbers person."

Bonnier and her teammates, who made up SFGB Inc., focused their efforts on securing Uber's place as the preferred ride sharing company in the region.

"Uber is leading in the market right now, but we wanted to ensure that for the years to come," said Nishant Shrikhande, BS/CAS '16. "Our recommendations are designed to keep ahead of the competition."

Students weren't the only ones who found the case's lack of quantitative information somewhat difficult. The more than 60 judges found themselves challenged by the prompt as well.

"This case was certainly more vague than others in the past," said Farzad Shirzad, MBA '02. "That makes it difficult, but also more interesting because there are many ways to approach the problem."

Shirzad, who had competed as a student, enjoys judging the competition and giving back to his alma mater.

"I learned a lot from [the Case Competition] as a student and I'm continuing to learn as a judge," he said. "I also hope I bring a bit of empathy to the role as I recall working on little sleep and the stress involved as a student."

Student teams had 72 hours to prepare for the competition, from the case's release just before midnight on Wednesday, February 4, to the start of round one at 9 a.m. on Saturday. But despite the intense schedule, the teams enjoyed themselves.

"It was exhausting, to be sure," said Katerina Trajkova, MSMKTG '15 and a member of a winning team. "But it was also the most rewarding experience I've had so far at Kogod."

Teams for the competition are divided into three divisions based on student age:

  • Massachusetts: Teams comprised only of undergraduate freshmen and sophomores by credit hours.

  • Nebraska: Teams primarily comprised of juniors and seniors by credit hours, may include up to two underclassmen and no graduate students.

  • Wisconsin: Teams primarily comprised of graduate students and up to two juniors and/or seniors.

Judges could award up to 60 points to each team, divided among the categories of: Critical Issues; Evidence; Recommendations; Questions and Answers; Delivery; and Overall Impression. The winning teams of each division received $175, second place teams $125, and third place $75.

Winning the Day

Massachusetts Division Final Rankings

  • First Place—Millennial Management: Sophia Baneth, BA/SPA, ‘17; Kiersten Gonzalez, BA/SIS, ’18; Elizabeth Lilley, BA/SIS ’18; and Laith Shikir, BA/CAS ’17.

  • Second Place—MJ+H Consulting Group: John Atiyeh, BA/SIS ’17; Harry Glenn-Finer, BA/SIS ‘17; Joti Judge, BSBA ’18; and Matthias Ng, BA/SIS ‘15.

  • Third Place—MSM Consulting: Wilson McDermott, BA/SIS ‘18; Robel Minassi, BSF ‘15; and Dasha Savchenko, BA/SIS ‘18.

Nebraska Division Final Rankings

  • First Place—Case 00: Kylund Arnold, BSBA ’15; Sophia Barnes, BA/SOC ’16; Matteo Garofalo, BSBA ’16; Alexander Niu, BS/CAS ’15; and Virginia Zhao, BSA ’15.

  • Second Place—The Sapphire Group: Jonathan Beatty, BA/SIS ’15; Nkemdilim Chukwuma, BSBA ‘16; Yasmine Creese-Brown, BSA ‘15; and Heidi Friedrich BSA ‘15.

  • Third Place—BCCD Consulting: Cody Guyer, BSF ‘16; David Horowitz, BSBA ‘15; Casey Long, BSBA ‘15; and Benjamin Marks, BSA ‘15.

Wisconsin Division Final Rankings

  • First Place—GMA: Siwaree Indradat, MSMKTG ’15; Alyson Mucha, MSMKT ’15; Tom Shelly, MSMKTG ’15; and Katerina Trajkova, MSMKTG ’15.

  • Second Place—Omega Solutions: Iryna Casteel, MBA ‘16; Kendra Clark, MBA ‘16; Elizabeth Doane, MBA ‘16; Cathryn Panganiban, MBA ‘16; and Ekaterina Shok, MBA ‘16.

  • Third Place—BCHNS: Steve Beam, MBA ‘16; Mehdi Charfi, MBA ‘16; Nadia Noor, MBA ‘16; and Nithin Srinagesh, MBA ‘16.