Ian Folau, Johnson Cornell Tech MBA ‘16

Ian Folau, Johnson Cornell Tech MBA ‘16

Feb 15 2016

Startup Consulting Boot Camp in Israel


Three months ago, my team was assigned two Israeli companies to serve as consultants as part of the Global Trek course taught by Professor Roni Michaely. The first, a relatively new Startup called Voiceitt, built an app to help individuals with speech disabilities. For individuals whose speech isn’t discernable to most, the app translates their sounds into more intelligible speech using a synthesized voice.

Our two weeks in Israel is now a blur. In addition to presenting final recommendations to startup companies we consulted with last semester, my fellow Cornell Tech MBAs and I immersed ourselves in the Israeli tech industry, culture, and of course, food. We toured Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the Dead Sea, participated in a hackathon with a design school, and met with venture capitalists and CEOs.

Our second startup, Comigo, sells set-top boxes (that thing you point your remote at) to television providers allowing their customers to do more than simply select channels. It gives viewers a richer experience through social media integration, shopping, and details about sporting events such as starting lineups and play-by-play reports.

In the two months preceding our trip, the team met with each company on a weekly basis via video chat. We determined which strategic decisions the companies were considering, started research, and scheduled interviews with customers and other industry companies.

Once in Israel, venture capitalists, banks, and startup incubators graciously donated space for our final presentations. In addition to the startup leadership teams, each group of MBAs presented in front of a panel of five to six investors and experts as well as our MBA and Computer Science classmates.

While working for Voiceitt, we analyzed multiple business models for implementation. Voiceitt wanted to reach as many potential consumers as fast as possible, which was taken into account in our recommendation.

Our strategy focused on dissecting the pros and cons of two main business models: selling the product as an app in the Apple AppStore versus selling it as a medical device reimbursable by insurance. The process of qualifying for medical device reimbursement is arduous and limiting, so we recommended selling to the public via Voiceitt in the AppStore. We also explored building a proprietary hardware device to accompany the app for better quality. A breakdown of costs and technology were provided.

When making recommendations for Comigo, we summarized the current status of dynamically inserting television commercials in Europe, as this functionality is something Comigo intends to provide. Although dynamic ad insertion is not available on live television in Europe yet, we wanted to find television operators to target in the future. To do this, we found channels that are streaming online and utilizing “dynamic ad insertion” and researched operators that stream these channels. Our recommendation included three progressive operators for Comigo to target in three European countries.

Even though the daily workload of presenting approximately 30 sessions in 10 days was intense, it was offset by amazing food, drinks, cultural sightseeing, entertainment, and good old MBA fun. Click here for a video recap courtesy of Google Photos or click here for photos.

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