Emerging Markets Institute Team Makes Final Cut, Wins Awards at the mai Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin
As hopeful entrepreneurs looking to start a renewable energy business in Southeast Asia, the mai Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin 2012 was the logical arena to get the best feedback on our plan and test our mettle against teams from some of the best schools in the world. Sasin Graduate Institute of Business has been hosting this tournament in Bangkok for 10 years now and it has grown to attract some of the finest young business minds in the world. This year, they received 55 entries from 23 countries on six continents. Out of those, we were honored to be chosen as one of 16 semi-finalist teams to present our plan in person.
Our company, Lorax Energy, proposes to use agricultural waste from the Southeast Asian palm oil industry to generate carbon-neutral electricity. Given where we were competing, we expected the judges to be knowledgeable about the palm oil industry, but we were blown away by the quality of the feedback we received. We feel that our participation in the tournament has moved our plan a long way towards execution.
The semi-final round was predictably challenging and we were quite proud not only to have made it into the final round, consisting of six teams, but to receive special awards for having the best business plan, the best presentation, being the most professional group, and for our focus on environmental concerns. We received $3,000 in prize money: $1,000 for making it into the semi-final round, and $2,000 for making it into the final round. Our final round presentation was televised on the Thai Money Channel, and we had the honor of accepting our awards from the Thai royal family. The next day we received a free cultural tour of Bangkok and a very warm farewell from the good people of Sasin and the other teams.
Aside from the untold hours of preparation and having to take a week off from school to participate, my team and I were concerned about the financial burden of having to travel to Bangkok for a week on a student’s budget. Johnson Alumni at United Airlines came to our rescue with an incredibly generous gift of two round-trip plane tickets for our team, without which we may not have been able to attend. The tournament itself is run by a Cornell alumnus, Adith Cheosakul ’80, MEng ’81, associate professor of management at the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration of Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
Sasin provided meals and very high-quality lodging for all of the tournament semi-finalists as well as an assistant and a cell phone. We felt very well taken care of and were happy for the opportunity to focus on the competition.
With our focus on entrepreneurship, sustainability, and emerging markets, it is my hope that Johnson will be a fixture at the mai Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin for many years to come. This is a world-class tournament that offers an incredible learning opportunity for students to test their ideas on the world stage. A big thanks to United Airlines for making it possible for us to attend. And a big thanks to Richard Coyle, executive director of the Emerging Markets Institute, for all of his help and mentorship.