Its 2020: This year has already lived the beginnings of a possible new way of life in workplaces and in schools, for entertainment and for administration, all possible only due to the sturdy pillar of internet infrastructure. Yet even today, only 50% of the Indian population and 86% of the US population have access to the internet, thus separating those digitally included from those who are not!
How can we bring in unity into our countries and across the world if these large numbers of people without internet are to remain outside the new way of life? Are we going to see societies divided into the digital and the non-digital like how we had the rich-poor division before this?
Would you like to take part in a competition that is trying to find a solution to bring unity through universal digital inclusion?
Would you like to collaborate across continents on an impactful assignment?
St. Joseph’s Institute of Management (SJIM) and the Albers School of Business (Seattle University) invites you to join hands with students at Albers and SJIM to create the best business plan to solve this crucial problem.
You will be part of a virtual team, collaborating over the internet and harnessing two countries’ technical and social expertise towards a critical global issue.
The business plans of all participating teams will be judged by prominent and successful European jury members. The three finalist teams will get to present and debate their case in front of a distinguished panel at Albers or SJIM.
So join us today to win this unique multi-school multi-nation b-plan competition!
The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the large-scale adoption of digital technology as an alternative to face-to-face contact in the workplace, in education, in the community and even in the social space. Nearly everything – from worship to weddings – are being enacted in isolation and broadcast to perhaps a larger audience than before.
On the one hand, this has been great for our sustainability goals. Less oil, less pollution, less pressure on cities and the environment for resources, less consumption (we now make-do with 5 shirts or blouses!), and an almost instantaneous release from the clutches of oppressive supervision or work hours in the workplace.
On the other hand, as always, it is important to take note of who is excluded. The sudden shift to online-everything should have in fact been a cheap equalizer, allowing students who cannot afford costly stays in university towns, or who need to help their families in farms, a chance to now be educated without physically attending college. Instead, poor students unable to access the internet, like the poor in rural areas, are now at a disadvantage, once again. Similarly, employees all over the world who work from home are rediscovering that the time they previously spent in commuting can now be used for family and personal relationships; economic indicators so far have shown productivity actually increasing. Yet, the poor are not allowed work-from-home arrangements, and their lives continue as before, perhaps more dangerously, since they stand exposed to illness.
As students in a Jesuit business school, we ask you to come up with a competitive, financially sustainable business plan to increase digital inclusion, that is, enable those excluded to access the internet and online resources. You need not solve all the world’s problems – choose one demographic of people, and one area in which you can bring them online. After all, as Pope Francis, the Jesuit pope said, “We never emerge from a crisis just as we were. We come out either better or worse”
Working in virtual teams, can you develop a financially sustainable and technologically feasible and scalable business idea that will create universal digital inclusion?
Remember, you can tackle this problem from any angle and with whatever extent of technicality you wish. Your business idea can cater to a situation either in India or in the United States or both.
While this competition is co-hosted by St. Joseph’s Institute of Management (SJIM, India) and the Albers School of Business and Economics (Seattle University, USA), the students of all courses/departments/programs/schools at Seattle University and of the St. Joseph’s group of institutions are eligible to join.
The only infrastructure you need is a data connection! After registration, all students will be assigned to teams. Ideally, each team will comprise of a minimum of two students from each country. However, team sizes might vary based on the number of registrations.
Each team has about a month to formulate a 7-10 page business plan, and so the demand on each individual’s time may be 1-2 hours a week, over a four week period.
For the first round, the business plan should be submitted in a doc/docx/pdf format. All submissions will be passed through anti-plagiarism software. The document should use Times New Roman 12-point font with 1-inch margins all round. The length of the document must be a maximum of 10 pages, excluding any appendices. Judges will read, but not evaluate, any appendices. The required structure of the business plan is below. ❑ Cover page, which includes the name of the proposed company and the names of the team members. ❑ The Idea: one page dedicated to explaining the idea (or your solution) in brief. ❑ The People: The men and women who will be starting and running the venture, their roles, details about any outside parties providing key services or important resources, and so on. ❑ The Opportunity: A profile of the business itself – what it will sell and to whom, whether the business can grow and how fast, what its economics are, who and what stand in the way of success. ❑ The Context: The bigger picture – the regulatory environment, demographic trends, technological trends and developments, and any other factor that will inevitably change but cannot be controlled by you (the entrepreneur). How will you be prepared to deal with the inevitable change in the environment? ❑ Risk and Reward: An assessment of everything that can go wrong and right, and a discussion of how the entrepreneurial team can respond. ❑ Appendices, if any.
The structure listed above is adapted from an article by William Sahlman, Baker Foundation Professor of Business Administration (Emeritus) at Harvard Business School. All teams are encouraged to read this short article, which is available by clicking here
For the final round, the business plan should be submitted in a ppt/pptx format. The structure of the presentation will follow the broad structure of the written plan. Each team will have 15 minutes to present their plan. After all teams have presented their plan, the judges will give each team a set of questions to answer. All teams will get 20 minutes to discuss between themselves, including with the overseas team members via the internet. Thereafter, the teams will have to give their answers to the judges.
For the First Round:
Since the teams will comprise of American and Indian students, it is apt that, for the first round of this competition, we have judges from Europe who are experts on this year’s competition topic. This multi-member panel of judges will shortlist the three best business plans for the final.
Fernando Bonete Vizcaino
Fernando Bonete is a Lecturer at the School of Humanities and Communication Sciences at CEU San Pablo University (Madrid, Spain). He serves as Professor of UX Design and Academic Secretary of the MA in Digital Humanities. He received his Ph.D. in Social Communication from CEU International Doctoral School. Prior to that, he obtained the MA in Web Applications Programing and Development. Leadership Essentials Diploma at Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), serving as trainer for executive leadership and changemaker programs at CEU Business School. His research focuses on the cultural and social implications of emerging technologies. His papers have been published in several prestigious academic journals. He is author and co-author of book chapters of national and international scope. He has also contributed with his research to media platforms and institutions such as Atresmedia, RTVE, ZDF, France 24 and Santander Universities. He received the Teaching Staff Mobility Grant at Freie Universität Berlin. In the professional field, he is a regular contributor to debate on social and technology matters in several Spanish media, most notably national broadcasting networks like TRECE TV and COPE Radio.
Henrik works as Director, Product Manager for UBS Investment Bank within the Digital Transformation department. He is involved in various innovation initiatives in the area of tokenization, mostly with regards to the Structured Products business within Global Markets. He holds a Double Master Degree in Quantitative Economics, Finance and Investments from the University of St. Gallen and Rotterdam School of Management and has a background in Economics, Political Science and Philosophy.
After studying Chemical Engineering at Cornell University, Matthew Oh worked in multiple consumer packaged good (CPG) companies such as Pepsi and Unilever. He had an opportunity to go to rural India which changed his life. In 2015, Matt founded a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, FOREFRONT Charity, which enables every person, equips leaders, and establishes self-sustaining communities by providing basic life necessities such as clean water/proper sanitation, quality education, affordable medical care, and leadership training. To date, FOREFRONT Charity built over 38 water wells providing over 60,000 villagers with clean water, distributed over 4,500 soap toys, launched an after school English program and a primary school for grades 1-5, run diabetes clinics, and conducted leadership trainings. Matthew has written numerous featured articles and is a global speaker. Matthew hopes to inspire the world to take action in helping others with their talent & skills!
For the Final Round:
The final round will involve finalists presenting their b-plans to a multi-member panel of judges from America or India, depending on the location of the final round. Each of these judges will bring their expertise to bear at this competition. At the end of this round, the best business plan will be chosen.
Haresh Ved is a seasoned technocrat with 25+ years of proven experience in the corporate and startup world. He is the Founder and Managing General Partner of Cronus Ventures, an early-stage VC firm he launched in 2000. Additionally, he is the Founder and Chair of TiE Angels Groups Seattle (TAGS), an angel investment group that promotes collaboration between angel groups across the TiE chapters globally. Haresh spent more than a decade holding key leadership roles at Microsoft Corporation, creating pen-centric and mobile computing technologies, systems and products, including Tablet PCs, Windows for Pen Computing, Windows CE, Handheld and Pocket PCs.
Brenda Christensen spent more than three decades in the computer and storage networking industries. She has worked in sales, marketing, and engineering at Xerox, Houghton Mifflin, Digital Equipment and Adaptec. She served as the founding Vice-President of Marketing for the data storage networking company, Brocade Communications. Recognized in the Storage Networking Industry Association Hall of Fame, Brenda has sat on the boards of start-up companies in Israel, India and France. Additionally, she is the author of “The $8 Man,” which presents first person stories from seventeen immigrants from India to the US and Canada in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
For 27 years, Phillip Stein was the owner and CEO of a chain of H&E Do-It-Yourself Centers and H&E Home Centers in Victorville, California. During his time as CEO, Mr. Stein expanded the company to include more than 500 employees and seven retail stores. Since selling the business in 2008 and retiring, Mr. Stein has acted as a family and start-up business consultant, serving industries such as interior design, candy manufacturing, and cement recycling among others. Phillip has held various leadership and board member positions at organizations such as the Micro Surgical Foundation (New York), Executive Service Corps (California), Jewish Federation (Seattle) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Washington state).
Madhu Singh is the Founder and Chief Legal Officer at Foundry Law Group. She is the supervising legal mentor and a regular speaker at Wayfind Legal, a probono service for nonprofits. She was also on the Board of the Women’s Business Exchange and served as its past President. In addition to her practice, she just completed her seventh year as an Adjunct Faculty at the Community Development and Entrepreneurship Clinic at Seattle University School of Law. Additionally, she continues to advise and volunteer at local nonprofits.
All teams must submit a softcopy of their b-plans. Click here to submit.
19 Feb 2021
Announcement of the THREE finalist teams on the competition webpage.
29 March 2021
All finalists must submit their final presentation. Click here to submit.
31 March 2021, 8:30-10am Indian time
Live presentation by the finalists to a panel of judges.
The results from the European Jury are in, and the best three teams are:
Glen Clement Dally
Vignesh . B
St. Joseph's College (SJC)
Aparna T Nambisan
St. Joseph's College of Law (SJCL)
Reshma Rose Jacob
St. Joseph's College of Law (SJCL)
Albers School of Business and Economics
H Ranjeeth Kumar
St. Joseph's College of Law (SJCL)
Neha T Selvan
St. Joseph's College of Law (SJCL)
Albers School of Business and Economics
Registration (team or single): https://forms.gle/KB2iMZeeVdUkWPPL7 Note: max 2 members from any participating school per team; full team size when combined with other school members = 4-6
How to Join?
Please register by filling up this form: https://forms.gle/KB2iMZeeVdUkWPPL7. You will then receive an email by 30th Nov 2020, informing you of your team members.
Albers/SU students: please contact Ms. AmeliaMarckworth (firstname.lastname@example.org)
if you have any concerns or issues
SJIM/SJCC/SJCL/SJC students: please contact Dr. Caren Rodrigues (email@example.com) or
Dr. Anup Krishnamurthy (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any concerns or issues.