Exide launched its first edition of the Innovation Challenge in September 2017. Exide is a key player in the battery market and is a regular recruiter from top b-schools in India. The aim of the competition was to give 2nd-year students of a top b-school a platform to apply their knowledge to come up with solutions for live business problems of Exide. I had paired up with 3 others from my class, namely Ratnakar Patra, Mukul Jha and Tiwary Sudhanshu Ranjan to take part in this competition. With the first submission due the night before summer placements at IIM Lucknow in October, we were a little strapped for time. The question at hand was to design a 5-year business plan for Exide. However, we submitted the solution in the stipulated time to the best of our abilities.
The result was favourable and was announced in due course of time. The next submission was to be made on the 15th of November with 2 questions to be answered this time. Exide had recently lost some share in the aftermarket in the north region and it wanted a strategy or solution to regain it. The other question pertained to the Lithium-Ion battery segment and required us to decide whether or not Exide should enter into the segment and the reasons for the same.
A fairly detailed plan was prepared by the team and submitted and this secured us a place in the campus finals of Exide Innovation Challenge 2017. Following this was a presentation round which took place on 14th of December on campus which was judged by top leadership at Exide. As per the results, two teams from the campus made it to the National Finals scheduled to take place on the 21st of December in Kolkata.
We were extremely excited and began work. After submitting our final deck on the 19th of December, we prepared to make the best of opportunity. We reached Kolkata on the 20th afternoon and were housed at Swissotel. Since the day was free and the presentation was to take place on the next day, we made the most of our time in the city. We visited some eateries and not to miss around Christmas Time, Park Street at the heart of the city.
The next morning was the final presentation and the 5 teams presented in their respective slots. Finally, the results were announced and we stood 3rd to win a prize of 1.5 Lacs. We were extremely delighted and after this sweet ending, it was now time to return to campus to settle back into campus life.
As a non-engineer, the industry and the case were extremely new to me and I learnt a few things from the experience:
1. To win, you always need a well-balanced team. The team members are pursuing different specialisations at IIML including Finance, Strategy, HR and Marketing.
2. No industry, no matter how technical it is, cannot be understood by enough research.
3. The battery market is a place where users make grudge purchases and to turn them around you need a lot of marketing which made me find my way and comfort into the industry.
4. The best way to learn about the industry is by working on a project involving the industry. With the gamut of information available, there's no limitation to how much you can learn.
All in all, the entire experience was extremely enriching and taught me more than enough about the industry and solving cases which will definitely help me in the upcoming final placements but also in holding conversations about a new industry that I felt was out of my comfort zone.