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NOV 03, 2020 • 68 min read
The Tiger Global Case Competition (TGCC) went virtual in 2020 and with a track record of winners ending up at top unis, a massive 2500 business and financially minded students from around the world signed up to take part.
In teams of 3 or 4, students had to ‘crack the case’ in regional rounds before heading to the global round with Sony sharing their business insights to make the case.
After a frantic 48hrs of online calls and perfecting slides, The Wolves of Wall St team from Dubai were crowned the winners! The team members, Harsha, Raghav, Sid and Ahad presented a well thought out and succinct presentation that showed the judges they had taken into account all the key issues presented in the case.
In an interview on Crimson’s Top of the Class podcast, the students shared their experiences and tips for future case comp teams.
When Sid saw the competition on Instagram, he immediately knew who to call. Harsha has a strong interest in investment banking and the world of finance. Harsha then called Raghav who is part of a business competition ran at school and Ahad was the last piece of the puzzle, a previous winner of the school business competition. Harsha said that having a team where each member had respect for each other's abilities already put them at an advantage “I would say that our ability to trust each other and our talents and our ability to maintain synergies across all of the aspects of this presentation was I think the thing that sets us apart.”
The Wolves of Wall St then got to work. The first thing they did was review the presentations from past Tiger Global Case Competition winners and ran a mock case based on a TGCC case from two years ago. Next was to analyse what the judges would be looking for. Ahad is the youngest member of the team at 15 and he took particular interest in reviewing the competition’s rubric, “We went to the issue diagnostics and we saw that they [the judges] really care a lot about the issue diagnostic more so than the solution. So we put a really heavy focus on that... I think all teams should do that if they have the marking scheme, and it's something I do in every competition.”
One final ace up their sleeve was to reach out to an alumni of their school who took part in multiple case comps and was a student at the Copenhagen Business School.
THE GLOBAL PRESENTATION
After getting through a competitive regional round, the team knew they had to step things up for the global round but they also knew what made a winning presentation.
“The judges obviously wanted high level financials. But the strategy needed to be simple and clean and that's what we were trying to go for. I think that's the key strategy to win these types of competition,” Ahad said. The case was provided by Sony and asked students to provide solutions to improve the future of Sony’s business in a rapidly changing digital world. Sid describes the difference between the regional and global cases. “In the regional case, they pretty much blatantly said ‘we want international expansion, this is your task, go for it.’ For Sony, they didn't say that. They just said, ‘these are the different sectors. This is the competition of Sony. This is the current situation. Now give us a pitch.’ Now with that you have to kind of figure out what exactly the issue is. And that took us a lot of time. First we ended up figuring out what the solutions are, then you went back to the issues, the issues didn't really make sense. And you had to go back and fix the issues again.”
Despite presenting to a panel of talented judges, Raghav said they knew their content was strong. “I think it was somewhat intimidating but what we were really sure of were our financials. One thing that our mentor told us was that our financials wouldn't really be questioned as long as they're realistic. If we say this service should be priced at $100, we should have some sort of justification for it. And another thing we did was question each other on a service was $100 or $15 a year. I think that helped us be comfortable offering those numbers to judges as well.”
Want to get an even greater insight into how The Wolves of Wall St stood out from the competition? Download the slides they used for their final presentation!
Perhaps more important than the prizes is how the Tiger Global Case Competition changes things for the winners and The Wolves of Wall St are no different. Harsha said being a winner has further consolidated his belief that business and finance was the career for him. “These are the types of problems that I'll be solving in the corporate area in the corporate world and I think it just kind of gave me that positive go ahead, that yes, you can, you can go into that particular career path,” he said
Ahad has also found more certainty from being involved in TGCC. “Up until very recently, I was thinking about medicine, but now that's like completely out. I think this is really, really life changing for me because it's really told me that I need to do business,” he said.
In terms of final advice for students, all the team agreed that you just need to put yourself out there and enter no matter what you think you're capable of. But perhaps the most important ingredient in a winning team was summed up by Raghav. “I think one of the main things that people should try to do is work extremely hard. I know this is cliche, and everyone says work hard. But I do think we really put in the hard work and we put in the hard work even when we didn't want to.”
You can read more about the Tiger Global Case Competition, the judges and prizes at this link.
You can read the full transcript of the podcast below.
Podcast Host 0:05
Hi, everyone. It's great to be here with the TGCC winning team, The Wolves of Wall St, congrats guys on an amazing win and for being part of the Tiger Global Case Competition. Would you care to introduce yourself? Obviously, each of you are an integral part of the team, see if we might start with you. So name, your age and the role that you had in the team
Right? Thank you, Alex. So my name is Sid. I am 16 years old just turned 16 about a month ago. And the role that I played in the team was of the research and our analysts. So I was kind of gathering all the data, identifying the problems and kind of pushing that forward.
Podcast Host 0:55
Fantastic and Raghav.
Hi, so I'm Raghav, I just turned 17, and the role I had in the team was I was sort of the team leader. And the Slide Master, I would say.
Podcast Host 1:14
The slides were very good. You know, I know that a lot of our listeners, and people watching at home, probably haven't seen the presentation. But the slides were on point. So well done on everyone's efforts. I'm sure it was. I know it's a democracy, right. And you got to make sure that everybody shares the glory. But the slides are very, very good.
Hi, I'm Harsha. I'm 16. I'm going to turn 16 in about two months. And I played the role of sort of the implementation of our solution. So the timeline, as well as our marketing strategy, and I was responsible for mainly the financials as well. So valuing the company and the numbers were handled by me.
Podcast Host 1:52
Fantastic, awesome stuff. And last but not least, Ahad, tell us a bit about yourself
Hi, so I'm Ahad. I'm 15. So a bit young compared to everyone else. And my role was the strategist. So I was working on some components of the strategy. And I was doing risk mitigation.
Podcast Host 2:09
Amazing. Well, having seen the presentation, as I said, I'm sure not many people have yet seen the presentation. I can tell everybody right now that the ages that you all are, don't do justice to the presentations that you gave, because it looked like you guys were young professionals out there. And I think, you know, a lot of the feedback that judges gave was how well it was put together, how well you presented under significant stress, you know, you're in a team, you're in remote areas. So you're all basically on computers. So to set the scene, you're all on different computers, you're talking to judges who are all in different countries. You've got someone controlling the slides on one end, and you're all trying to put together your part of the presentation to make it a success. And you all did that brilliantly. But I want to try and kind of go back right to the very start. And Firstly, ask how did you come up with the name wolves of Wall Street? Obviously famous movie The Wolf of Wall Street, and Jordan Belfort there, but you guys must have, you know, taken some inspiration from Jordan, or had you approached the name of the logo side of things?
Um, it was a brainchild. I think all of us had a sort of equal contribution. I think Harsha had a lot in terms of contributing the name. So, you know, we kind of got together and we spent about a solid 30 minutes, just assignment and we said, okay, we have to make a name. It can be embarrassing, because you're gonna be, you know, pitching it with this. And we're gonna we're gonna just put Team Six right, because that's just not great. So then Harsha was like, Okay, how about the Wolves of Wall St? And we're like, okay, you know, that's the best you could come up with. So let's just go ahead with that. It was a brilliant name. But, you know, when he kind of pitched our first regional case to our supervisor, if you will, he said, Okay, so why do you call yourself The Wolf of Wall Street is associated with penny stocks and fraud, you shouldn't have done that. And they were like, it's a bit too late for that. I mean, we already, like submitted everything.
But I mean, I think it's a great name, where you guys are improving on the name. So you're improving the reputation of what it means to be a Wolf of Wall Street. And you did that very, very well. We're going to be mainly focusing on the global case study. But I think for a lot of people who don't know what a case comp actually is, I think it's probably a good place to start. Now, I myself never competed in a case comp. And I've seen them going through my years in education, I've seen people compete in them and it looks really intense. It looks really involved. But can someone give us a brief description or summary of what the Tiger Global Case Comp actually was?
So what it is essentially is that they give us a business and the flaws of the business are hidden and you need to search for them and then you just need to solve it in a creative way. One thing that I find about case comps is that simplicity is key. So like keeping it really simple and like really straight to the point is how you win these types of case homes. And I feel that was the case with the TGCC. They obviously wanted high level financials. But the strategy needed to be simple, clean, like, and that's what we were trying to go for. I think that's the key strategy to win these types of competition.
Podcast Host 5:22
That's an awesome insight. And we'll get more of those as we go. So how many of you just out of question had been involved in a case comp before, and it competed in one before? And another one, just one, just yourself?
I think it was more like we've really never competed in a case come at this level before steak.
Podcast Host 5:42
Yeah, right. Yeah. Okay. So you've done some local ones. And you're all in Dubai. Is that correct?
Yes, but I think for me, personally, this was my, this is my first Case Competition. So I mean, I've done some I've done some minor ones. And I host a case study competition with Raghav here at a club in my school, because I haven't actually participated in a competition. So this is a first time experience.
Podcast Host 5:59
Okay, so why did you decide to enter into the Tiger Global Case Comp? What about it kind of grabs you and you're like, ‘Hey, we're putting together a team, we're going to do this.’
So I think this is actually a funny story, because it was to think of how to think of where it started. Sid actually followed Crimson on his Instagram. And then he found the competition, and he called me straightaway. And he was like, ‘Hey, do you want to do this?’ I'm like, ‘okay, it sounds really interesting.’ The prizes are up for grabs, so, and the prices look really good. And I thought it would be overall a really good experience. And then the first thing I thought of was to call Raghav. And then Raghav called Ahad. And that's how the whole team was put together. And then knowing this, this is probably the best team that we could put together. And we did, I would say we had a really well rounded team. And yeah, I mean, that sort of motivation, just pushed us into participating is just the experience in general.
Podcast Host 7:04
Fantastic. And so what did you know about the competition going in? Because like saying the word case comp, you've got one person who's taken part in that before, like, you know, at a smaller level, you must have seen a bit of the flyers and information about it. But how much did you really know about going in? And I guess, to take it a little bit forward? Was it as you ended up expecting it to be? Who's going to answer that a little more?
So yeah, I'll take that if there's not too much trouble. So what we did was, again, like, I think a core strategy to anything in life is to be as prepared as possible, right? Even like, if you're answering questions, in a case comp, or you're going for a university interview, you need to be prepared, you need to know what you're going to say. Right? Yes. So I think that's kind of the key to like, you know, what we sort of knew, so we said, okay, it was about two weeks before the local case release. And we said, let's look at Henry Xu. He was the runner up for last year. Let's look at his presentation. Let's take out the local brief, the regional brief, sorry, for last year, and let's try and sit through with the exact same time frame of seven days and work through it. Right. The actual presentation that we came up with in those seven days was absolutely terrible. But I think it just gave us you know, this starting point, and what we need to strive through. And I think that sort of initial start gave us a good foundation to what the TGCC is and what it expected.
Podcast Host 8:31
So you guys kind of like gave yourself a run through, you know, so to speak or or rehearsal before the actual comp started by running through the priors competition and running through your priors case company, like comparing yourself to the winning one, right?
Yeah. So we had a couple of resources, we looked through those resources. And then we took the case study from around two years ago. That was the original, if that was a global case, or that was a regional case study for 2018, if I'm not mistaken, and then that case study we made a presentation on and then that's how we kind of said, ‘Okay, here's where we need to improve. Here's what we're doing well already. And here's how we can generally get better next time.’ So that gave us quite a good insight as to what was going on in the competition.
Podcast Host 9:16
That's an awesome approach. And so for anybody listening, for the audience out there is keen on a case comp, I would definitely or would you recommend that that sounds like a pretty solid approach to kind of get yourself up to speed in a short amount of time when there is not a huge amount of case coffee experience within the team? Right? That sounds like a good tactic.
We practiced our presentations as well as we could. We really put in a lot of time deliberately practicing these things. So we'd be prepared for the regional and global rounds.
Podcast Host 9:44
Absolutely, and and even going in there with a little bit of a head start having done that rehearsal, I'm sure there were some surprises along the way. And possibly some people who grew into their role, people who ended up having a role more than they expected. And you're all learning in this case complex because the information that you guys presented in the actual presentation was pretty intense, right? Like, there's a lot of financials going on there. So for those students out there who are pretty like financially minded and interested in a consulting future, like, this wasn't messing around, there was some pretty heavy stuff going on in there. But what were some of the surprises I guess you had between signing up? And then finally presenting in the global round? Like, did you feel as though you know, the trajectory was all as you expected? Or did your roles evolve and change and the team dynamics change as well?
I think there were, there were a couple of things, we didn't have set roles. And it was quite vague, to be honest, our roles in the beginning, all we knew is we would make a great team. But we didn't have set roles. And as we got the case study, which was a week long, that was when we kind of found out where our strong points were, and where weak points were. And that's how we kind of made our roles. And second thing was we as a team, we tried to plan everything out to the tee. So we would plan how long it would take us to make a certain slide or how long it would take us to eat breakfast or lunch, and then come back and work on the case study. So we had a set schedule. It was that timetable was set for us so that we would have an idea of how to kind of segregate our time. And although we did kind of end up submitting on time, there were a lot of gaps. So I guess that kind of surprised us, it was just the pure amount of time that was needed to do certain things and how we kind of underestimated or overestimated the amount of time needed to do certain things. So it's the time management that really was a shock. In our case study, even in the regional case study, I would say so that's one thing for me, I have a huge learning curve, managing time managing a whole new case, like, it is not a I think, you know, looking at the TGCC it is not a student level, you know, usual competition, it's not part of every day, you know, school curriculum, this is a fairly big step up. And I think when you're when you're in the thick of it, that's when you're realizing it, you're like, Whoa, this is a lot of work to do. And things aren't going exactly as planned. So how did you go about like solving those challenges along the way, because I think at the end of the day, that's the difference between teams that win. And teams that don't, are people who can problem solve the challenges that occurred during the regional rounds and the global rounds.
So especially in the regional round, our key strategy was just to make everything look as amazing as possible, as visual as possible, because we knew that would make us stand out among the sea of like black and white presentations. So one challenge we faced was just how much has to go into that, like we had to make a mock up, Raghav had to make a mock up. And it took just so much time and we had to just cancel everything around our schedule, we told everyone, you need to be there. And everyone was so accommodating and canceled everything for the competition. I think that really set us apart because we just focused 100% we did all the late nights. We put all of our focus on the competition. And I think that's like what really helped us overcome the challenges because we were able to think on our feet and make time.
Another thing I would just add to that is that this is true like this is this was beyond a student level competition. And our main strategy after the regional round, what we did was, we approached one of our friends from our school, who has finished now and he's going to CBS right, Copenhagen Business School, and he does a lot of case studies. So he participated in the CBS Case Competition. And we asked him, “Can you look over our presentation? Can you tell us how we can make it better?” And he taught us so much. And he taught us so much. And we looked at other presentations that were submitted at university case competitions. So the key, like, what we were repeating to ourselves was that we're entering a high school level competition with a university level presentation. And that's what we tried to do. I think that's where it kind of set us apart.
Podcast Host 14:41
Yeah, you guys presented with such confidence. Are all of you guys on a debate team or public speaking?
I'll take that. Yeah. So I can speak for all of us when I say we're all brilliant speakers. Like I mean, in the scope of what we are trying to achieve. So I was exposed to debate only because I didn't want to do swing practice in my old school. And the only club that happened on that day was debate. So that's how I got introduced to it. And then I wanted to move on. And then I did the World Scholars’ Cup, I actually won first place in the debate round of that global round in Durban. And I think all of us here have those skills from those foundations, but at least that's how it started for me.
Podcast Host 15:40
Looking back, what would you say is one of the main ingredients to having a successful team, whether that be working as a team, whether that be the slides and knowing that that's a priority, or actually just your time management? And making sure that you're putting in the effort? Or the public speaking side of things? Or is there any one thing that you would all agree on? Or perhaps you've all got an opinion as to what is the key ingredient for a successful case comp team?
In my opinion, I would say that it's to be well rounded, because I know that there were registrations that were open to TGCC with two people, and then they would be matched with two other people from around the globe. I think the advantage that we had was, we all knew our strengths. And we all knew that we were a well rounded team in terms of what was required for this case competition. And if, for example, if two people were good at research or if all of us were going to research and we were lacking in something else, then it wouldn't have been as good of a team. I would say that just our ability to trust each other and our talents and our ability to maintain synergies and all of the aspects of this presentation. Was I think the thing that sets us apart from the other teams, I would say.
Podcast Host 16:59
Sid, do you want to give your opinion on that one as well?
Yeah, so I think I agree with everything Harsha says. But if I had to say, from my point of view, the biggest thing I think is camaraderie and trust. Right. That's the biggest thing. It goes above everything else. Like Harsha, he's one of my best friends. Right? That's why I called him up the moment I said, ‘Look, this is something we can do together as friends not to get the prize, but more like, okay, let's work together. Let's have some fun.’ Right? And then we call Raghav. And you called Ahad; we all knew each other. We're like brothers now. Right? And I think that's, that's the core cornerstone. You know, what makes a good team. It's just your trust and your faith in one another.
Podcast Host 17:42
Yeah, absolutely. That's what holds the team together. Raghav? What were your thoughts on what makes a successful team to go through TGCC? Or any case comp?
I think, yeah, definitely Sid and Harsha are right. And there's trust, there's the element of trust. Another thing that I absolutely loved about our team was that we're not afraid to call each other out if we're doing something wrong. So if we had a slide, and there was something wrong with the slide, we wouldn't say, they must know what they're doing. We're really, we were really willing to question each other and to fix any mistakes, because we thought like, we need to fix our own mistakes, we need to call out each other on our mistakes before the judges can. So we need to fix everything or every issue that might be there before anyone else can find it.
*Podcast Host 18:28*
Yeah, that's huge. And I think that's particularly a lot easier when you are paired up with friends, when you know, it is a bit of a challenge. When you pair up with people you don't know and you're trying to be nice, and you're trying to get on with people. And you might not be overly critical of them when you kind of think you should be. But it’s great to be able to be honest with your feedback to each other. Because you're going to get called out by the judges. Ahad, what are your thoughts? You’re the youngest team member, what do you think makes a successful case comp team? Or made this case comp team successful?
I think everyone said everything that was all amazingly correct. I think one more thing in terms of the actual presentation is that, like, we knew what they were looking for in advance, like, we went through the rubric. And then we were like, ‘How do we maximize marks in every section?’ So we went to the issue diagnostics, so then we saw that they really care a lot about the issue diagnostic more so than the solution. So we put a really heavy focus on that, compared to the solutions we're also focused on. So I think that's what really set us apart. I think all teams should do that if they have the marking scheme, and it's something I do in every competition. If they give it to us, I go to the marking scheme. And I go to every point and we try to see how do you maximize the points in every single category? And once you visualize a storyboard or plan, then it's very easy to score points and like, get higher placement in these competitions.
*Podcast Host 19:54*
That's amazing. And that actually is my next question. You've got through the regional rounds, you're in the global rounds, you guys are on a good trajectory to do really well in this competition, you get the case for the global round. What do you do? What's next? So you've all got the global round case sitting in front of you, talk us through what it looks like and tell the students who have never been on a case comp whenever competed in a case calm what that's like and what do you do next?
I'll take that actually. So it's a bit of mixed feelings because you’ve got adrenaline pumping through your veins, you're like, ‘Okay, I've got 48 hours, I got to nail it the first time, there's no room for mistakes, you can’t make a big mistake, and then go back and fix it.’ Right? So there's a lot of that energy around everyone on the team to get down and start putting pen to paper. But I think the thing with the global case, right, more so than a regional case, is that the problems are very, very implicit. In the regional case, they pretty much belatedly said here, we want international expansion, this is your task, go for it. For Sony, they didn't say that. They just said, these are the different sectors. This is the competition of Sony. This is the current situation. Now give us a pitch. Now with that you have to kind of figure out what exactly the issue is. And that took us a lot of time. First we ended up figuring out what the solutions are, then you went back to the issues, the issues didn't really make sense. And you had to go back and fix the issues again. And then we realized that those issues were really issues. So we had to go back and do all of that. And like Ahad said that's a key, or was it Raghav as a key kind of cornerstone is like looking at the issues. And I think that was kind of a point of struggle for us.
Podcast Host 21:32
Right, so kind of distilling what actually are we trying to solve here? What is the actual case that's in front of us? Yeah, that's super interesting. So, Ahad, you were doing the strategy side of things, right? Were you like, you know, what, what was your first thing you like, Hey, guys, this is what needs to stay on track. So we can hit the marks in the rubric, because as you say, like, knowing what you're actually going to get scored on, is such a big part of how to win competitions is knowing how you're going to get judged. So what was your role is like their strategy guide to try and make sure the team was staying on track.
I think it was a full team effort. Like these guys, were keeping me in check as well. And Sid was also working on the strategy with me, he did the first one, which was also like, it was really also amazing. And I think we had that synergy going. So like, what we were trying to do was we were trying to nail the issues. So the strategy was we kept rereading the report together and just underlining key points. Because there were a lot of hidden things like there was just one line about one of the issues. And like, we found that line, and then we were like, down, this is the hidden issue. And then that's how I think we were able to stay on track with solutions because we nail the issues the first time. In the regional case, we actually did miss one issue, like are issues off the mark. So we had to go back and we had to go find the issue again. And then that wasted like two days, and we knew there was no room for error. So I think like as a team effort, like we really nailed the first like analysis of issues. And I think that's like what kept us on track to the strategy. Because once you nail the issues, strategy is really easy.
Podcast Host 23:02
I think it's clarifying, as you say, what actually the task at hand is. One thing I want to go through, you know, for students who are considering being a part of a case comp, or the tiger global case comp, or whatever it might be, is how much is like a school economics class or business management class, whatever it's going to be, you know, would help you in something like this, like, how much existing knowledge did you have? And how much new knowledge did you have to acquire? And if you did have to acquire new knowledge, what was it like? Was it a particular financial analysis skill or something that you learned from that mentor that you mentioned? So yeah, take us through, I guess what you knew coming in, and what you had to learn as a result of being a part of the case comp?
Well, for me, I would say in terms of the first part of your question, the economics and business class, so I take only economics in my school, I do not take business. And right now, I've been taking the subject for around one year and two months. And we've sort of just finished the foundation of economics. So for me, especially it was I had to go and do my own research. So I've had a lot like it wouldn't have been possible if all of us didn't have that striving passion for the subject in the first place. So I've had a passion for myself for economics, finance, in business and your mind since the start of my high school. So I've been doing a variety of financial courses online and stuff like that. So that was where I accumulated most of my financial knowledge and my financial jargon, if you will, but yeah, I wouldn't say that I would definitely recommend for the people that want to participate in case comms that to do your own prior research depending on your role prior to the competition. So to be very honest, my economics syllabus didn't help us that much, but it definitely gave us the groundwork, the footwork, and the foundation to sort of build up from there in terms of where you want to in terms of your role throughout the entire case competition. So yeah, in layman's terms, it doesn't help that much. It gives you a foundation but ultimately Can you recommend going and doing more research? I think that applies to all of us.
Podcast Host 25:03
Yeah, absolutely. Does anyone else want to chime in on that one? Because I know everyone's going to have different experiences based on different subjects that you do. Because that's an interesting one that I'm sure students are like, ‘Do I need to do heaps of extra research for this?’ Sid?
Yes. So I'm in Harsha's economics class, right. And, you know, I think, taking assessment of the rest of the class, I think we are near the top, that we're at the top kind of sector of people who study economics. And, like Harsha said, that didn't help at all right, very little. It just basically gave us you know, the idea of, Okay, how can we assess an overall economic situation? Right. And, you know, I think coming in here, I was one of the least experienced people in the entire group. You know, I kind of felt that I didn't know as much as Ahad or Raghav or Harsha did. Raghav and Harsha, they're in a business club together. Ahad is doing several financial programs of his own that he started. And I think the key really is for, you know, students who kind of don't have the same experience or kind of started with it is learning from the people around you. You know, we talk a lot about this growth mindset, fixed mindset, I think the key thing to take away from that is that you shouldn't be afraid of people who are better than you. Because there's so much you can learn from them. You know, Raghav, Harsha, all of them gave me these, like, really amazing skills that I can use now in the future, right, you know, making better slides, looking at risk mitigation, looking at finances. And I think, you know, this, all this, us helping each other brought us to, you know, the Global's where, despite the fact we had our roles, everyone had a contribution to each slide to an equal degree. Right? If I was the research person, and I was doing a research slide, everyone had equal contribution to that to make sure it's the best that it could possibly be. Because every slight encounter is a bit of everything.
Podcast Host 26:51
Yeah, absolutely. No, I think it's so key to be around people who know what they're talking about. And when you mentioned Harsha, the financial lingo or like the, you know, your financial dialect, I think it's such an important part of it. And, you know, for me, I still don't know my financial lingo. I'm still trying to catch up. My brother works in banking and finance in New York. He knows all that stuff. I don't, I'm not him. That's for sure. You know, that it must be a massive learning curve, see it cetera, you know, but for someone who hasn't been exposed to it as much, how did you feel like you're in your element with this kind of stuff? When you're looking at this case, company? you've you've done a lot of this prayer, you know, you just got called out for doing some business management courses and that kind of stuff. You do a bit of your own learning on the side?
Yeah, definitely. I am very involved in things like investing in stocks with real money. And I have programs that I run, but I feel that honestly, I don't think that you need to be super deep into like learning new things to get into it. Like, actually, you don't have to do so much research. Because the main hard thing inside the presentation is the financials. So just get yourself a really good financial guy like Harsha and then you're set because everything else is just really simple. Because what I've seen is that the teams that win these case comps are the ones that can explain the complex strategy in a really simple way. While the teams who are really experienced tend to overcomplicate things, that’s not the way to go. I think that you just know your basics like your SWOT analysis, your three parts of your strategy, how to do your executive summary, that's just very basic stuff. And obviously you're amazing financial analysis analysts like we got.
Podcast Host 28:37
Okay, yeah, that's really important. And I think that's a good way of summing it up that hopefully students aren't intimidated by the level of knowledge that you guys have. I'm sure students out there do have this kind of knowledge, but they might be kind of thinking, ‘Oh, this feels like something that when you hear ‘case comp’, you usually think of university or sometimes, you know, big employers run them as well. So it’s not typically associated with a high school level, particularly when you've got people like Jamie Beaton, and those kind of guys judging you. And Jamie, I know is like a financial guru, pretty much. So it must have been a little bit intimidating knowing though that like, you're going to be presenting to these people who, like know, their finances and know their stuff inside and out, because it was a pretty impressive judging panel. Does anyone want to speak to that experience? Raghav, do you want to talk us through what it was like to be presenting to a really impressive judging panel?
I think it was somewhat intimidating. But what we did was be really sure of our financials. One thing that our mentor told us was that our financials wouldn't really be questioned as long as they're realistic. If we do something, if we say this service should be priced at $100, we should have some sort of justification for it, but they One question asked if we provide a justification. And another thing we did was ourselves like it goes back to questioning ourselves, we really questioned each other on like, why did you set this number at $100? Or why does this service cost $15 per year? And really stress those questions. And that's, I think that I think visually, that helped us that we would be comfortable offering those numbers to judges as well afterwards.
Podcast Host 30:30
Yeah. And that's actually that's something that did happen in the questions because Janine asked the question, she said, Oh, you're not making much gross profit there. And you're like, ‘Well, you know, Sony makes the PlayStation for X amount and sells it for this amount. So we're trying to justify the gross profit will be this amount.’ So you weren't trying to over inflate your ideas to make yourself look like heroes, you were realistic with what the price of the product would be and the price that you'll be selling it at. So you end up with the gross profit that, you know, actually is big. And the justification I think was really solid. In the presentation, which the judges I think, understood that these guys know what they're talking about. They're not just putting numbers in here, willy nilly, they've actually gone and thought about this. Is that a fair point? And I'll throw this to Harsha, it sounds like you're the financials guy.
*Yeah, I mean, definitely. I mean, for the numbers itself. I think we all even though I was wanting to put it together, I think for the numbers, we all played a key role in finding justifications, finding these explanations. I think one of the main things that differentiated us from other groups was that Raghav found a flashcard application. And we put the possible questions that the judges could ask us on that flashcard application. And we prepared two or three bullet points, based on those questions. And who that would go to. And that's how we knew, like you said before, who answered the question, it was one of the most satisfying things ever, because in the regional rounds, especially the two questions that they asked us, they were the exact questions that we put on our flashcard. And I remember, all of us in our minds must have been like, yes, they asked us those questions that we prepared. So it was very, very satisfying. And even the Global's we were quite prepared for the questions. And at the end of the day, these judges, they're not there to intimidate you or bite you. They're there just to guide your presentation and ask you questions on what you already know. And I think that was something that we had in the bag. So it was quite a good experience.*
Podcast Host 32:33
Yeah, no, absolutely. And hats off to you guys for answering your questions. Because what I think you guys did really, really well in answering the questions. And this is something that I would give as advice to all listeners, as someone who is watching your presentation, is that you knew when to do sorry to kind of put this bluntly, but you knew when to shut up. Right? You answer the question. Thank you very much. Right? And that's it. Like, the more you talk, the more you can get yourself in trouble and the more you can kind of overcomplicate it, as Ahad keep saying keeping it simple is no sometimes the hardest thing to do, right is to sum up a complex question in a couple of sentences when you're thinking on the spot. So I really credit you guys for practicing your questions. I think that's a really key tip that some students might not be doing but definitely should do. I think that was really, really key. Let's go fast forward a little bit to the awards day or the day that the announcement was made that you guys had one and take us through that. You know, I think we had at least one of you guys on the call who was on the call that day to accept
That was me. I came on but I think an audience was watching. Right?
Podcast Host 33:44
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So you're watching, you come on and you're a bit speechless at the time but you also won the best speaking award! And you're like, oh, man, I'm speechless! This is all happening so fast. You did well, there. I must admit you did really well. What was it like in the five or so minutes after the call? When you guys were chatting for the first time after you after you knew that you'd won.
It was a hurricane! Sid and I were skipping the class that we had that day to watch this award ceremony. I had permission. So we were sitting in a physics room right, right opposite the Administrative Office of our school and when our names came at first place, we started screaming and the teachers came in and they thought that somebody was on fire, it was insane! So we were kind of getting in trouble and celebrating at the same time. So yeah, and then Raghav came on as speaker and yeah, it was great. I mean my reaction, especially me and Sid personally, we were really really excited. I'm sure Raghav and Ahad as well.
I think the three of us like me, Harsha and Sid were screaming so much like, I think the people below my house, they were hearing and I think they might have come up. But Raghav was in shock. Like, he wasn't making any noise. Like he was just still, he was in shock. And he was like, I couldn't like I was looking at him. And it was just so funny!
Podcast Host 35:33
What were you in shock about?
I think one of the things was that I always tried to be the pessimistic one in the group. I was predicting, okay, let's look at who all are. In the competition. I was saying worst case scenario, or like, or like we'd like probably case, base case, as we say, in the case. The base case was we'd come third. And they were saying "Don't be pessimistic. Like, you shouldn't be talking like this. And let's wish for the best", and the shock of expecting to, but then coming first, I was just like, speechless. And then I had to come on as well. So I came on, and I just couldn't get out any words. Now saying that's kind of ironic, like, I get a speaker award, and then I can't speak Yes. But all of us were really excited. And like, yeah.
Honestly, like the day of the awards, like me and Raghav, we got up at 6am. We were live streaming all the presentations. So I saw like, every single one, I made it. I did like risk analysis for every single one. And then I told everyone, we've won this, but then they're all like, no, let's not be optimal log of especially then like, he's like, no, let's just talk three, it's fine. Let's be pessimistic. And then when the actual award was about to be announced in like, the first place award, and then we were like, we had a panic attack. We're like, Oh, no, we're not gonna win this, the Australian team, there's so much better than us. And then when we wanted, like, we were all so happy. And I think that was like, really amazing
Podcast Host 37:03
So you were doing risk analysis of everybody's team. He was saying, like, yeah, this tastes pretty solid, they're gonna be tough to beat that type of thing, right? And then you thought, well, like, I've seen everybody else's, I know, we're pretty close to the top. And if we've won, let's, you know, my risk analysis is solid as a rock. And if we've come third, then I guess his pessimism brought the team down and made them ready for that. But you guys came out with a win. And it was fantastic. So what's next for you guys? Like, has this experience, I guess changed or made perhaps a little bit more, or giving you more clarity about what it is you want to do in the future? You know, maybe you were on the path or thought you might want to go into kind of economics, business consulting. And now you're like, yeah, this is definitely for me. Or maybe you've changed your path slightly, maybe you don't know yet. But it has is this kind of experience life altering in that kind of space, or not really, at this stage,
Personally, as a career path for me, I was introduced to investment banking, when I was in your year three. And don't get me wrong. I'm not a nerd, I had absolutely no idea what investment banking was, when I was in that when I was in that year group, I had absolutely no idea what it was till I was in your eight. And that was when I started doing some more research. And then I found out the different types of investment banking. And then your nine was the time where I decided because I had done an online course on investment banking up till then. And then I found out that I was I had a knack for mergers and acquisitions, and how that I had a lot of interest in that that was where I started, you know, kind of paving my CV to, and it just, it just gave me the assurance that okay, this is really where I'm meant to go. Because these are the types of problems that I'll be solving in the corporate area in the corporate world and I think it just kind of gave me that positive go ahead, that yes, you can, you can go into that particular career path. So that was where I was looking, and I was looking to get an economics degree in the UK, possibly, and things like that. So definitely tightened the noose for me around that. So I think, kind of just a showcase of what I can do in that field. And I felt really good. Absolutely. I think that's such a good way of putting it that it showcases your talents in a way that, you know, normal school probably wouldn't give you that opportunity. So it's sometimes a competition like this, where you're like really able to hit the accelerator and be like, hey, I've been doing some investment banking stuff for a while now. And he's the result in the competition since you came into the competition, probably by the sounds of it, you know, a diverse range of interests, obviously strong in the business and economic side of things. But how is this experience, you know, perhaps changed or helped you decide your path?
So, um, I've always, like, kind of thought that I wanted to do something that involves speaking and convincing people of things, right. Yep. So yeah, so like, I remember, like, I was talking to my college counselor, and she says, you know, that I can go to any I can take any course I want. It could be physics, it could be you know, gardening, it could be anything. But she says that, because I have, you know, the ability to convince people to buy what I'm selling or whatever. That you know, it kind of opens that door for me, but like, you know, cuz I was in business, like in economics, and I like that side of things. My dad, he runs, you know, a multi family office. My mom teaches business and economics. So I've grown up around that kind of household of, you know, finance side of things. But I never was actually sure that like, you know, I wanted to go into investment banking, I wanted to do this, I just knew I wanted to do something that was fast paced. And that kind of, like, kind of brings back to my initial inspiration of watching, you know, Harvey specter on suits, you know, you know, in exactly like you say, the most ridiculous things like, you know, some things I can't see because of the profanity, but like, you know, just things that shows, you know, it's always fast paced, there's no resting moment. And for someone like me, who gets, you know, kind of bored taking notes in class every day, I want something that's always, you know, keeping me on my toes, and I think this is one of those professions. So dgc really helped me realize that, you know, I thought I was just gonna go and get an economics degree and just do something with that. But, you know, I think it's so much more than that. Right now, I'm looking for something like a combined course of Economics and Management. And, you know, because I just feel that you can't have business without economics. And you can have economics and business, right. And, you know, this translates into so many different aspects of life. Like right now, I started an international startup called khanbridge, it's in five different countries right now. And we're growing and it's just, you know, the adrenaline of starting something that uses all that knowledge. And I think that's this really helped me kind of focus in on what I wanted to do.
Podcast Host 41:12
Amazing. That's fantastic. Well, I'm glad you had that experience with it. And that it helped you to kind of realize where you wanted to go in the future. And if it's combining Economics and Management, or business management, that would be fantastic for you, and a good outcome, Raghav, talk us through your experience and how it affected you.
It's been a little bit of a different journey for me. For most of my life, I was brought up in India, and then I've only recently shifted to Dubai, about two or three years ago. And if I think back to my life, around five years ago, I had some kind of idea that I wanted to do something with business or finance. But I didn't know for sure. And at that point, I would have never imagined that I would ever have the hopes of winning global, like a case competition. And over time, it's been just getting closer to what I want to do. I'm not sure what I want to do yet. But I know I'm getting closer. I'm getting there. So I've gotten from coming to Dubai and picking myself successes, business and economics. And then during this competition, it's been helping me realize what I want to do. I'm still not sure as I say, but I know I'm getting close to it now.
Podcast Host 42:28
That's fine, you know, like you, you've got plenty of time still. And I can tell you right now that, when you're in your 30s as I am, you might still not know exactly what you want to be doing. But it's all a journey to get closer to the end destination. And there might not ever be an end destination. It's always an evolution. And I think the future of work is changing so fast, that it's probably good to stay nimble and good to keep your options open. Ahad, I saw you nodding along there. Obviously, like you've got a strong background in the business and finance side of things. It seems to be like you're the analytical guy, in many ways, and as well as Harsha as well. Talk us through I guess, you know how you see this competition solidifying perhaps your pathway.
I think this competition is definitely life altering for me. Because like one or two years ago, I was choosing my subjects. And I chose three sciences. Because I was thinking about doing medicine, or law or business and I wasn't sure about any of these. And then like, I went into this competition called business mines, and Harsha and Raghav ran that competition. And I did well and then like, I won it and then I'm like, yeah, this seems like this is something I want to do. And then after that, I was just not sure at all. And this actually really helped me solidify because, up until very recently, I was thinking about medicine, but now that's like completely out. I think this is like really, really life changing for me because it's like really told me that I need to do business and like, unlike suitable for that, because, you know, my parents, they wanted me to do medicine because they're like, it's a safe profession. You know, bankers are togs, yes, and all that stuff. So that's what I think this unlike the competition's on this journey with my friends has been really amazing and like, really life changing for me and are really able to be part of my life. And I think I'll look back at it like years from now and smile fondly.
Podcast Host 44:24
Absolutely. I'm sure you will. So just let me get that straight though. You competed in a competition, and you won it that Harsha and Raghav ran?
It's a competition that's been running in our school for the past five years. This is actually the fifth year. And Harsha and I are leading it this year along with another person. And we participated in it that time as well, like two years ago, and we actually lost you to Ahad. So that was, yeah, that was kind of what happened.
Podcast Host 44:56
Well, so you knew you had good people on your team. You know, when you're talking about training You know, you want to be on a team with people who have beaten you in the past? Right? I think that's a good thing. That's a good thing. My last question for you guys is as part of being winners, and you do have the opportunity to spend a bit of time with Julian Robertson. Now, for those people who don't know who Julian Robertson is, he's pretty much like one of the most respected hedge fund managers in the world. And is, you know, obviously a huge part of Tiger Global Management as well. What are you going to try and get out of that time with him? You know, he is like, for those people who don't know how old is Julian Robertson? I think he's like late 80s, or there abouts? Right. So he's obviously got a lot of experience. Yeah, I just want to know, how are you looking to take advantage of that time? What are you looking to get out of that experience of being able to chat with Julian?
Um, I mean, it's kind of a funny story, because I have like, never met someone famous in my entire life, you know, and I've like, all these people, like on Instagram, you know, taking selfies of them with like, these actors, and you know, these amazing, super famous tennis players, football players. And, you know, I can't remember like, like, even the last thing, gosh, you know, how cool would it be to sit down? And you know, even take a photo with someone who has made it big in life, right? Yeah. And I didn't care who it was, it could be a football player, it could be an actor, it could be a cricketer, it could be anyone. But now I have the opportunity to not only take a photo, but to discuss and talk to and learn from someone who's in exactly, you know, what I want to do. I think I speak for all of us, you want to say I'm really, really excited, just to sit down and you know, hear what he has to say. Because, you know, like you said, Alex, he has so much experience. He has so many success stories. And you know, if we could just learn and you know, humbly be a part of what he has to say. I think that can open up so many doors for us. Absolutely.
Podcast Host 46:56
Yeah. No, he's a wealth of experience. Has anyone else got any other thoughts or ideas of what they want to get from that chat with Julian? One of the things I find most interesting about people is that is the way they kind of is the way they think. So I have two examples for this one is Ray Dalio, who is the founder of Bridgewater. And the way he thinks is he's written in his book principles is that he for everything he's done, he does. If he makes mistakes, he goes back and then reflects on them and uses those principles to not make that mistake again. Yes. Or if you think about Charlie Munger, who is the partner of Warren Buffett, yep, he uses mental models in his life. So for every investment decision, he has mentioned once, yes, a variety or plethora of mental models that he uses to analyze a situation. And I think that's going to be the question I want to ask him is, what is the way that he thinks about life and approaches to life? Yeah, because it feels like a lot of these financial gurus, they do have these sets of rules or principles that they live by that it allows them to, or enables them to take advantage of market fluctuations and situations because otherwise, investing is such an emotional game, right, you know, the ups and downs of the markets. It's being able to stick to a set of rules and a set of principles, no matter what situation is key to being able to invest successfully, no matter what's going on around you. So that's an awesome question. I look forward to hearing what that answer is, when you do actually ask that question. And Harsha, what would you like to ask Julian?
I mean, it's just the amount of experience he brings to the table. Because even though we're quite inexperienced ourselves, in terms of the amount of case competitions that we've been in, this was my first big Case Competition and it was my first big exposure to the big bad world, if you will. But our skills right now are quite raw. And in a sense, he's very, very seasoned in what he's been doing is very experienced. And so just to learn from that is an immensely amazing opportunity for us. And like Raghav said, Those, that's a really good way to put it, how he thinks in terms of his day to day business decisions every entrepreneur has, has their own USP. Just as an example, I read, I read a biography on Ilan musk. And when he was building SpaceX as a company, there was an employee who asked him to fund 104 funding of $125,000 for a part of a rocket that was that operated that had an operation of a door hinge equal to a door hinge, right. And then he didn't say anything he just said, you have $5,000 make it work. So every entrepreneur has this kind of like their USP and I'd love to get to know him as well so Raghav hit the nail on the head so something definitely I'm looking forward to.
Podcast Host 50:02
Well, it's been fantastic chatting with you guys. I think the last thing that I'd like you to all leave us with is a piece of advice for future case comm competitors. So obviously we've covered quite a bit to recap what it is, you know, practice questions it is look at past cases that you guys you know, if people watch this, everyone's going to check out your presentation from playing 20 when they're doing the 2021 case comp so you know that right so you're going to be a popular video to watch for people in future case comps. Ahad, I think you're one it was pretty good in the rubric, have you got anything else?
I think one more thing that I didn't mention, I obviously mentioned keeping it simple as obviously, like the most important thing but another thing is just deliver it confidently. Like even if you don't know what you're talking about, just act like it's unquestionable. And then the judges won't ask you a question about like, that's exactly what we did in financials Harsha delivered it confidently in the judges had basically no questions for it. Just just fake it till you make it essentially in like, just be as confident as you can. And I think you'll be solid, keeping it simple and keeping it confident.
Podcast Host 51:10
I love and I love it. And I saw Sid had a wry smile there. Because I think that that's what he feels like he's, you know, like that that's his thing is selling things confidently. Sid what would be your advice if it's not selling these confidently? Obviously, it's the you know, the presentation side of things is very strong for you. Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I mean, apart from what Ahad said, he hit the nail on the head. Like when I first went into debate, my coordinator told me she said, the only person that knows that knows you're wrong is you and make sure that stays that way. Right. And I think if I have to give any sort of advice for Case Competition or other competitions, at least from where I stand is just take that leap. Right? Just take that leap. I mean, I quote Stanley here, you know, the creator of the MCU. He said, if you have an idea, that's genuinely good, don't let some idiot Have you out of it. Because I think this stands by for anything, whatever you're doing, because like I said, You know, I came here, one of the least experienced people in this group. And now I think, you know, I'm at par with everyone here. In terms of what I can do. I've like I've learned financials, I've learned, you know, kind of what Harsha does. I've learned what Raghav does. I've learned what a heart does. And I think if you do any student who's listening, just stick to that step, the worst will happen is that you come out with something new. Right? The worst will happen is that you'll realize that I can do better than this, or this is not for me. And I think it's very underrated in the aspect of just trying and seeing what happens, because that's I think that's a core aspect of everything you're doing, just try and see what happens.
Podcast Host 52:43
Absolutely, thank you so much. And Harsha, what will be your tip for students? Obviously, like one thing that I really liked about yourself Harsha, is that you've gone above and beyond the school curriculum, it sounds like for quite a while. And I think quite a few of you have done that actually, like you've all kind of had your interests in different areas and all explored those areas significantly. But are there any particular pieces of advice that you would like to give to students?
Yeah, I mean, apart from just going beyond the school curriculum, I think that one of the main barriers that people have is that they don't actually think about going into these case competitions, because they don't think that they have it in them, so to speak, I think the main thing is like Sid said, just take the leap, and go for it. Because there's nothing bad that can come out of it, like you have nothing to lose when you enter these competitions, apart from some of your time that you dedicate to gaining this experience. So I think that's one thing. And the second thing I would say is when you've taken that leap for the duration of the case comp, I would say just be as prepared as possible. In our instance, for example, we had prepared our list of Q and A's we had done a mock presentation we have before the I would say I would quoted as in quotes, dead time making use of so much dead time that we had. So you know, for the case came in, we knew exactly what financials to incorporate. So I had built Excel models based on that before. So just generally being as prepared as possible really helps, I would say for the duration of the competition.
Podcast Host 54:12
The preparedness that you guys had, obviously, like when you got those questions in the regional round, and you got those questions and global round, like it showed, watching your presentation, it really showed how prepared you were. Alright, close us out Raghav, tell us a little bit about what advice you would give to students.
I think one of the main things that people should try to do is work extremely hard. Like, I know, this is cliche, and everyone says work hard. But I do think we really put in the hard work and we put in the hard work, even when we didn't want to. Like there were times when we stayed up until around three and we woke up at seven or eight for the global presentations. And even after we submitted the presentation. The next day we were up again and we weren't Throughout the day, and even if we think about it we got the case on the third on a Thursday, in the evening, and we were working pretty consistently from about 12pm that Thursday. So I think that's one of the main things that everyone should try to do is work extremely hard, even when it's not fun.
Podcast Host 55:20
Yeah, I mean, like, there's not much that replaces hard work, right. Like you guys can have good financials like people who have done it before a mentor, all this kind of stuff, like a guy who can sell ice to Eskimos, you can have all those different things. But at the end of the day, nothing replaces hard work, and the time that you put in and committed to it, and I think a lot of students are like, okay, I'll do this as a fun side project. But you know, for you guys, it sounded like you went all in, you said, we're doing the TGCC say, it's just a couple of days of super hard work. Let's win this thing. guys. Thank you so much for being on the show today. We hope that you enjoyed the episode and we hope that everybody who is out there listening subscribes for more fantastic episodes from the Top of the Class podcast.