Students help Kiwi ice block company see the big picture

12 June 2014

WMS case competition winners

Risky Business:  Winners of the Waikato Management School case competition - Jono Merchant, Scott Martin, Tommy Clout, Kayla Liddington and Jess Howse. 

New Zealand ice block company, Nice Blocks, were spoilt for choice when students presented them with a range of nice options for business expansion from ‘Nice Truck’ summer tours and ‘Nice Gains’ product lines for Gym junkies to re-usable ‘Nice Cups’ and community engagement through a ‘Nice Network’.

Tommy and James, Founders of Nice Blocks, are looking to grow their business but come face to face with the challenge of competing in a market against major players such as Fonterra and Unilever. So they offered their case to third and fourth year management students from the University of Waikato to develop for them a growth strategy.

Strategic Management Case Competition

Four teams pitched their strategies to a panel of judges last week, in what’s known as the Strategic Management (STMG391) case competition, with the winning team called Risky Business, presenting a ‘Hit It’ strategy. Their strategy for Nice Blocks was to ‘Hit the Beach’ through partnering with Surf Lifesaving, ‘Hit the Town’ by teaming up with Wild Bean Cafes and finally ‘Hit the Big Time’ by catching the eye of global company, Unilever, providing the ideal exit strategy and a profit of $17.8m.

The students’ strategy covered key areas of sustainable growth, brand awareness, profitability and excess capacity which would result in enhanced distribution channels and expansion into Australia.

Member of the winning team, Jess Howse, said her team had really put in the hard yards in the lead up to presentation.

“Lots of long days and late nights. Prior to submitting our report we were up until 5am after working for a straight 20 hours. To win just feels amazing and makes all those hours invested worth it,” she said.

The other members of her team were Scott Martin, Jono Merchant, Kayla Liddington and Tommy Clout and they won $2,500, provided by the competition sponsor, NetValue.

Great business ideas

A member of the judging panel was Chris Morrison, a business partner of Nice Blocks. Chris founded Phoenix Organics, New Zealand’s first organic drinks company, as well as brought Fairtrade bananas to New Zealand with All Good Organics.

Extremely impressed with the presentations, Mr. Morrison said that all teams delivered at a “very professional and high standard” and that there were many “great business ideas” that they will take away from each of the teams.

The other judges were Graham Gaylard, CEO of NetValue, Professor Jim Corner from the Waikato Management School’s department of Management Systems and former student Courtney Boyd, who’s now working as a Senior Advisor at KPMG in Auckland.

“This case competition really helps these students to hone their business skills and prepares them for working within the business environment,” said Mr. Gaylard.

“As a frequent pitcher of business strategies myself, tonight I saw some of the best pitching I have seen in my entire life.” he said. 

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