Last week we had the second part of our strategy course with Professor Omar Toulan. This focuses on growth approaches: why, where, how and when to grow. One distinctive advantage of the course was the “live” cases with three executives: Christoph Aeschlimann (CTO and CIO, Member of the Executive Board – Swisscom), Jaap Rommelaar (Co-founder – ZoomAgri) and Filip Dames (Founding Partner of Cherry Ventures and Former Chief Business Development Officer of Zalando).
Jaap Rommelaar presented his company that is disrupting Global Agri Supply Chains via Computer Vision and AI. The company helps to assess the quality of Agri Commodities via image processing, making the tests much cheaper for its clients. He shared some strategic challenges he is facing: should the company grow horizontally, penetrating other industries, or provide services to all participants of only agri supply chain?
Christoph Aeschlimann, CTO and CIO of Swisscom, demonstrated industry trends and the company’s development so far. Swisscom is Switzerland’s leading telecoms company and one of its leading IT companies. It has been through a lot of change in the past 10 years and developed a range of new IT solutions for its B2B customers. Now the company is seeking its next growth opportunities. The MBAs were asked to present their own ideas on what mode of expansion Swisscom should adopt.
Filip Dames talked about his personal experience with Zalando. This included why the company was able to grow so fast and compete with Amazon, and the correlating role of brand and marketing strategy. In less than four years Zalando has become the biggest fashion e-commerce player in Europe. In addition, Filip shared information on his VC firm that focuses on early-stage startups and on one of their portfolio companies – INFARM. This startup is playing in the sustainable sphere and using a super interesting business model by providing software, hardware and consumables to grow grasses and vegetables directly in grocery stores.
Learning from first-hand experience what has worked and what hasn’t for the expansion of different companies is very interesting. And the live case structure with executive guest speakers means we have been able to make our own suggestions during this strategy course, that will help firms to look at their strategies from another angle.