Good News from the Darden Innovation Challenge

My team made the international top 10 for the Darden Innovation Challenge case competition. We get to compete in the final round in Charlottesville, VA in a few weeks. Woot!

The competition is fairly straightforward - the sponsoring companies provide a "problem", typically a marketing/product problem, and charge the participating teams to come up with a concept that addresses the problem with an innovative product, marketing strategy, etc.  The "innovating" is the hard/fun part...

Our first round problem came from Whirlpool. In a nutshell, we needed to figure out a way to help the company drive demand in the 18-27 age demographic. Luckily, the company provided us with a number of product concepts to get the ball rolling.

Our concept turned out to be a new line of funky, pseudo-upscale dorm appliances marketed by Whirlpool under a hip vanity brand. We weren't completely thrilled with the final idea - (I actually fought pretty hard early on to kill it - shows what I know!) - but the concept brief was strong and (I think/guess) had the right mix of creative positioning and "innovative" ideas balanced by meat and potatoes operational concepts, reasonably defensible financial/market justification, and digestible sales projections.

The final round will require that we prep new concepts for American Express and Hilton Hotels. We'll put forth our best effort in hopes of impressing the corporate sponsors/recruiters and, more importantly, winning the cash money pay day that goes to the first place team.

Our team, "Kenan-Flagler 16:47":

From left - Kami, Jen, Yan, Nicole, Eric