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Booth Teams Take Top Two Places in Chicago Tribune Media Group Digital Media

Teams from Chicago Booth Full-Time MBA Program won the top two awards in the Chicago Tribune Media Group 2010 MBA Case Competition for graduate business students. The competition’s goal is to identify new digital revenue opportunities or ventures under existing Chicago Tribune Media Group brands/platforms.

The first place award of $10,000 went to first-year students Kirat Doshi, Ben Krop, Don Woods, Tim Johnson, Michael Chester, and Parag Shah, who were recognized for their  digital marketplace concept.

The Chicago Tribune launched the competition in search of new innovations, and because the winning concepts are being reviewed for development, each team signed a confidentiality agreement and cannot disclose details of their ideas.

“We wanted to bring in outside thinking on key digital challenges,” said Paula Rosentreter, director of business development for the Chicago Tribune Media Group. “We thought the competition was a good fit for MBA students to apply their learning to real-world business challenges.” ¬†

Twenty-five teams entered the contest, including 12 from Booth. Other participants came from Northwestern University, DePaul University, and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Each team entered the concept with a one-page summary of their idea. Ten finalist teams, five of which were from Booth, went on to submit a full business plan and present in front of up to 15 Chicago Tribune executives at the Tribune Tower. Winners were announced immediately following the presentations in November.

“We were very impressed with the submissions from University of Chicago teams,” Rosentreter said. “Booth students brought innovative ideas, worked to develop them into comprehensive business plans, and presented them in a very professional manner.”

The second place award of $5,000 went to a Booth team that created a mobile app. “We were pretty confident in our idea, and at Booth you do so many presentations where you get grilled afterwards, so we’d had a ton of practice,” said John Clinton, a second-year, full-time MBA student. His team also included classmates Vishal Arya and Jonathan Lee. “We came up with a unique presentation and just had fun with it.”

Clinton, who co-chairs the Media, Entertainment, and Sports Group at Chicago Booth, said the experience has heightened his interest in working with traditional media companies, often cited for declining revenues. “I really like the idea of creating something new within an existing business,” said Clinton, who worked in production management at MTV before coming to Booth. “It looks like they are ready to take more risks than they were 10 years ago, and that’s very encouraging.”

Doshi agreed that the competition was a valuable experience: “Everyone in my group has an interest in pursuing entrepreneurship or consulting somewhere down the line. Because we had only been in business school for five weeks before the competition, this was a great test in thinking through that process without the risk.”

—Kadesha Thomas