Case Study: Business Plan Success Stories from HEC Paris and Tsinghua School of Economics and ManagementPublished: April 28, 2010
Tsinghua and HEC Paris have jointly developed the content for the ETP Beijing Program, a four-month part-time program to convey the essential skills for successful entrepreneurs. The detailed course content and teaching pedagogy for each of the 12 modules have been designed based on input from faculty from both institutions based on a peer-faculty approach. The first 50 Chinese women entrepreneurs were selected and recruited in the spring of 2009. From the end of May, 2009 the participants followed the curriculum, and the first cohort graduated in late August.
As an integral part of the program, faculty formed teams of five participants each to develop a full-fledged business plan to be presented to a jury of academics and seasoned entrepreneurs in the business plan workshop on graduation day.
The following examples illustrate how the program helped the participating women advance their individual entrepreneurial skills as well as form powerful teams to leverage and combine their prior experiences. This, in turn, helped them present sound business plans -- a crucial first step in starting a company.
Success Story 1: The Power of the Uniform as a Marketing Tool
The winner of the business plan competition was a team around Li Yun from Tianjin Hengjilong Garment Trade Co., and Liu Shuang from Liu Shuang Zhuoshuo Marketing Planning Co. They presented the plan to create a business around the design, manufacturing and distribution of customized sales representative uniforms for in-store marketing.
The basic idea was to cater to the increasing Chinese market for in-store promotional events conducted by dedicated marketing teams. Research indicated that the effectiveness of these teams substantially increased if the promotional team dressed in uniforms with the design and logo of the product/company they were advertising. However, such uniforms are currently only available for larger companies with the scale of marketing activities that justified the investment in customized uniforms. This team leveraged their prior work experience and network of contacts to small clothing manufacturers to create a system of centralized customized uniform design based on a modular system that made it possible to produce these uniforms in small shops. It was also at a price point that made them affordable to a much larger range of low-volume customers for in-store marketing events.
Success Story 2: Ancient Chinese Tradition Goes High-Tech
Another example comes from a team that capitalized on individual experiences and backgrounds to build a business plan that combines ancient Chinese tradition with 21st century distribution channels.
Team leader Tian Tian grew up in one of China's poorest rural areas, populated by an ethnic minority that has so far not been able to take advantage of China's recent economic development. Their average per-capita income remains more than 50% below that of the Han-Chinese ethnic majority in structurally comparable areas. This ethnic group is locally famous, however, for its remarkable handmade products, such as tissue, clothing and musical instruments.
In the 10,000 Women ETP Program, Tian Tian, who is currently working as a tour guide for a local tourism organization, found herself with Lu Ling from Beijing Zhirong Yuyuan Software Technology Co., Ltd, an expert in web design and Internet-enabled commerce. Supported by their three teammates, they combined their respective knowledge to create the plan for a business that commercializes the locally produced traditional products throughout China based on a dedicated Internet distribution platform. The plan -- which the women were eager to implement as soon as possible after graduation -- received excellent reviews in the business plan competition. Not only did it meet all the criteria from a business standpoint, but it also addressed one of the important social challenges for China: the economic development of rural areas and the integration of ethnic minorities in the process.
Success Story 3: Laying the Foundation for Women Entrepreneurs
An example that stands for the particular nature of a Women-only program was the plan presented by the team around Cao Mingming from Beijing Fengtai Yixin Art Kindergarten and Yang Chaofang from Beijing Itcast Education Technology Co.
These women knew from their own experience how difficult it is in China for a working woman to obtain qualified and reliable support for household and childcare related services, especially given the high turnover of personnel and the lack of a reliable system of assessment. In response to the corresponding market need, they created a business plan around an advanced system for the selection, training, monitoring and evaluation of household and childcare service employees. These employees would be motivated by attractive pay and working conditions to stay with a given client in order to move up the learning curve of providing services to a given household. Their business idea improves the situation of three important female constituents at once: providing needed services to their female clients, creating quality employment for Chinese women in the service sector and laying the foundation for a success story for female entrepreneurs.