Written By: Araj Mohandas
Araj Mohandasan, Haridesh Sharma, Maneet Singh Ahuja, Suryansh Choudhury
Team Coach: Prof. Nick Pisalyaput (Sasin School of Management, Bangkok)
We are proud to be the first team to represent Nanyang at the Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC) in Houston, Texas. With a prize pool of $2.5 Million, RBPC boasts to be the rickets graduate competition in the world. After our success as the champions of Asia, we were encouraged by our faculty advisor – Prof Vijay Sethi to apply to this prestigious competition. We did and made it to the global final rounds in Houston. Never has there been a more rewarding experience.
After a month of grueling coursework coupled with extensive preparation for the big world league, we made it to Houston for the competition being held between 4th and 6th of April 2019. Despite our already soaring expectations, we were awestruck at the meticulous planning, caliber of patriating teams and versatility of judges and mentors at our disposal. We were competing with Ivy league schools and presenting to fortune 500 company’s representatives.
We had the good fortune of receiving feedback even prior to the competition as RBPC connected us to a network of individuals. As we went into day 1 – practice round, we knew we had made it to a unique place. The feedback was all on point and our improvement over a day’s round was quite steep. I (Araj) had to go the extra mile that day as I went in to showcase my 60 second pitch for the opening competition. It was tough because there were over 400 people in the audience and considering I was one of the lasts ones to pitch, I knew how high the standards were. But I did well and was able to make a strong case in the limited time.
Second day was round 1, we were put in the life science group as we were a medical technology company. After our 30-minute presentation to a panel of over 20 glamorous judges, we as a team were content with the way we performed. We had a feedback session later in the noon, where we were given strong critical feedback, but also walked away content. Unfortunately, at the networking party that took place in the evening, we learnt we did not progress to the next round. However, the silver lining was that we met some exceptional people, exchanged a lot of business cards, garnered interest in our company and last but not the least – we still had a shot at the finals through the wildcard round the next day. We gathered ourselves and pulled another all nighter to prepare well for the wildcard incorporating all the feedback from the first round.
Day 3 – another day, another satisfactory performance. We had a few judges who were in from round 1 and they loved that we incorporated their suggestions. As we got into the final arena, we had to be prepared. If our names were called out, we had to immediately go and present in the massive auditorium again filled with 400 people. But we did not make it. As the afternoon progressed, we sat back and saw the finalists – the top 7 teams. After witnessing their presentations, our sentiment was not of disappointment. I can proudly say that we were a team to reckon with, our preparation was at par, what lacked was that we were still in early stages of product development and lost to the hands of people who either had a working product or a running business and there was no way to compete with that. But its not just us saying this, we were so happy to see the reception we got from the judges who kept reiterating how well prepared the team from Nanyang was.
The final event was a black-tie event – the gala night. Filled with performances, investments and prizes that went to strong businesses and major universities, we felt great just to be in a room and sharing a dinner table with the best and smartest minds in the world. With the reception, feedback and experience we obtained from all our peers and judges, we can safely say Team BetterLife walked out of there with our necks held high.
To find out more about the Nanyang MBA programme please visit our website.