A team of UC Berkeley students from the Haas School of Business tied for first place at an international business competition Feb. 2.
The team from Haas won $2,000, tying with a team from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
The Wharton Latin American Private Equity Competition invited six teams from top business schools to propose and debate investment opportunities in Latin America with various private equity firms. This was the first time a team from Haas was invited to participate.
“From my perspective, we took a really great company and did a very good job in presenting our strategy,” said team member Alex Igoshin. “The question was really broad, and every team was very creative in choosing the different possibilities.”
The first round began with an open question about private investment in Latin America.
The team of four, all students in the MBA program set to graduate in 2014, presented a buy-and-build strategy to create a multibrand fast-food chain.
“We proposed to buy a fast-food chain restaurant in Chile that would serve as a platform to expand to other countries,” said team member Carlos Prada.
The team went on to describe two different growth strategies based on this business model.
The team presented these strategies to a panel of industry professionals, beating out four other teams to advance to the final round against the team from the University of Chicago.
In the final round, both teams were given two hours to consider investment opportunities for a private Colombian company in financial distress. After presenting their ideas, the teams eventually reached a draw.
Prada and Igoshin both attributed the team’s success to the members’ diverse backgrounds in finance and support from the Haas School of Business. They said that classes such as those teaching leadership communications and finance — as well as Teams@Haas, a component of the Berkeley Innovative Leader Development curriculum — helped them develop the softer skills needed to craft the presentation.
“I would describe the entire thing as a learning experience,” Prada said. “Besides the result if we won or not, it created character, a strong bonding within the team, and we remain really good friends.”
Igoshin said he will spend his share of the prize money on reimbursing his flight and “maybe some beers” with his teammates. As for the future, both Igoshin and Prada said they would definitely participate again with the team in a similar competition.
“That’s what business school is all about,” Prada said. “Getting to know people, staying in touch, as we’re from different areas, and working with each other when something happens in the industry.”
The team consisted of Igoshin, Prada, Dani Alonso and Javier Aranguiz.