How did Rene Hyun and Claudio Bonifaz Cervetto, MBA Class of 2020 manage to combine their interests in consulting and board games into a tool that helps other MBA students in case interview preparation? In this post, they talk about how they created The Consulting Board Game during their second year at IESE.
Hi guys! Tell us abit about your backgrounds.
Rene: I am an American, native of Los Angeles, raised by Korean immigrant parents that taught me values of service and helping others from a young age. My father served in the US Army and worked in healthcare for most of his professional career, and my mother was actively engaged in serving her community in LA. After completing my undergraduate degree in marine engineering, I joined the US Navy because of the opportunity to grow as a leader, see the world, and serve my country. 9 years later, I chose to join IESE because of the people I met. People from IESE are very down to earth, approachable, and driven by a mission to serve others and create value for society.
Claudio: I am Peruvian-Italian. Since I was a kid I always enjoyed math and logics and to design stuff, which led me to create some boardgames concepts during my school period. I study industrial engineering, because on the business learning I could get, leveraging in my skills. After obtaining my degree, I start working in procurement in the Retail Banking sector and teaching in Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. I decided to do my MBA to learn skills that I was not exposed in my day-to-day activities and to learn from people, not only from my ecosystem in Peru, but also around the globe. IESE was the right fit to me because its strong European position and diversity.
How did you get together to create the Consulting Board Game? What is it all about and what inspired you to create it?
The Consulting Board Game is an early stage preparation tool for case interviews. The three main benefits are: (1) develop skills in specific areas of the case interview, such as brainstorming and structuring, (2) interact with others by giving and receiving feedback on answers, and (3) have fun while improving your skills!
We were inspired to create this because of the original board game Monopoly… Really! One day, Claudio interviewed Rene for the first IESE Board Games Club’s social media post, and Rene shared his favorite board game was Monopoly because it can help you prepare for your consulting interview by managing cash flow and develop a strategy to gain market share (a joke…). Though we were having fun with this social media post, we then wondered why there isn’t a board game specifically for consulting case interview preparation and developed a hypothesis: A board game format is an effective approach to learning basic case interview skills that also promotes collaboration and positive experiences.
What has been your experience so far creating this board game? Any learnings that you can share with us?
We created the consulting board game during our final term at IESE. Our initial approach was to develop a structure (as you do in case interviews…) to help us achieve our first objective: to create an MVP. We were also conscious that there were still many other activities going on at IESE, and so we enrolled in an Independent Study Project (ISP) in order to receive mentorship and to maintain our project on track.
After creating the first version of the consulting board game in physical form (using paper cut outs and colored pens!), we tested the game with our classmates and identified many shortcomings with our product. We received conflicting feedback from many different people, and there were many doubts as to the usefulness of our product. We decided to keep iterating rapidly, and created v2, then tested and received feedback, then iterated and created v3, and again repeat cycle. We did this until we reached approximately v20, testing and receiving feedback from over 100 MBAs!
Then all of a sudden, we couldn’t continue testing our product due to COVID. That’s when we pivoted our approach and started working on a digital version of the consulting board game. It was clear that we weren’t going to be able to play the consulting board game in-person for at least a while, so we further tested our digital product until we achieved our first objective: to create an MVP (now digital). In August 2020, we hosted a “Summer Program” jointly sponsored by IESE Career Development Center, Consulting Club and BCG for the incoming IESE MBA class of 2022, in 3 phases: (1) Launch, (2) Build-up, (3) Virtual Tournament. We’ve had more than 100 MBA students register and recently completed our virtual tournament and awarded our top 10 finalists.
Our key learnings:
- Seek feedback early and often: Don’t worry about “giving away secrets” and trying to “protect” your business idea. We found that our business idea was only able to improve by sharing and receiving feedback from as many customers as possible. Find out what your customers biggest pain or problem is, and then solve it for them.
- View from ‘glass half-full’ perspective: We received many positive feedback along the way, but we actually received more negative and discouraging feedback. Take all criticism in a constructive way, but don’t let anyone tell you that you “can’t” do something. Go out and try, fail, and keep trying to improve.
- Manage yourself sustainably: Both of us had many other commitments outside of the consulting board game, and many times we had conflicting priorities and difficulty juggling other activities, such as, academics, social, volunteering, side-projects, etc. Find time each week to take care of yourself and re-align personal balance: physical, mental, and spiritual.
You accomplished a lot in a short period of time! Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
Try to sell the consulting board game MVP sooner. After 8 months we sold our digital product to our first customer and learned a lot from the experience. It was a very helpful process to refocus the product development on building the “customer’s product” and not get carried away with building “our product” or the product that “we thought” was important to build. Selling early and often forces you to become customer centric and understand their needs, to help create something of genuine value.
What resources did you make use of in the MBA to help you with this project? How was IESE able to support you?
We were supported by IESE in three ways: (1) ISP, (2) SEE, and (3) MBA community. We previously mentioned our positive experience with ISP and how it was valuable to get started. After we completed our MBA in May 2020, we enrolled in the Summer Entrepreneurship Experience (SEE) with a current student and received many constructive criticism and feedback over the summer. In fact, it was one of the SEE professors that confronted us many times, challenging our business model, that eventually led to a successful sales outcome early in our journey. We gained valuable insights from the experience and from other SEE participants to help us further develop our business model.
Naturally the MBA community was crucial to our success! We received overwhelming support from our peers in both the MBA class of 2020 and 2021. From the initial ideation to the design, testing, and iteration process, we could not achieve our objectives without the MBA community. Truly one of the most special part of IESE is the MBA community and the people that care so much that want to see each other thrive.
Congratulations on your success so far! Looking ahead, what are your plans for this project in the short and long term?
Having recently completed a successful Summer Program for the IESE MBA Class of 2022, our next steps is to focus on (1) product development, (2) sales & business development, (3) and building partnerships. We are still in the very early stages of our startup and are looking for opportunities to grow. If you are interested in partnering with us, please reach out to us on LinkedIn or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to brainstorm together with you and define the future role of educational games and how it can be used to democratize access to successful job recruiting outcomes.
In the long run, we want to create a community at the intersection of job recruiting preparation and gaming, where our members thrive through collaboration and mutual support. We believe getting a job at your desired company shouldn’t be like the Hunger Games, it should be more like Saving Private Ryan. We’re in this together and we’re going to lift each other up and rise together. Join us and partner with us, we want to build a future community that brings joy, lives with passion, creates value, and goes far together.
Sounds like a solid plan, love your philosophy! Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring MBAs or consultants?
Play the Consulting Board Game at the start of your recruiting preparation. It provides you with the experience and lessons to help you successfully transition to the intermediate stage of your recruiting prep. Our product is a primer to your recruiting preparation journey that supplements the support you’ll receive from the Career Development Center and Consulting Club (also please make sure to join your Consulting Club!). We know from personal experience that consulting recruiting is tough and can sometimes be brutal, actually you have to be lucky in order to get into the top firms! But remember, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. We wish you the best of luck on your journey!
Thank you Rene and Claudio for sharing your story with us, look forward to seeing your vision grow! Check out the Consulting Board Game here.
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