Three IMD cases win prizes in the John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition - IMD Business School
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Three IMD cases win prizes in the John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition

Studies exploring Toyota’s new mobility services platform, how to promote transgender dignity at Indian social marketing start-up Kineer and the development of an electric snowmobile recognized with awards.
January 2022

IMD is pleased to announce that Professor Dominique Turpin, Professor Winter Nie and IMD Researcher Ivy Buche, as well as Professor Benoît Leleux were named in the final category of prize-winners in the 2021 John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition.

Founded in 1981, the John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition is known to be the largest of its kind. Its purpose is to bridge the academic and corporate worlds through the discussion and analysis of top-quality case studies.

A one-stop shop for mobility

Winning second prize was Kinto: Toyota’s New Mobility Services Platform by Dominique Turpin, Dentsu Chaired Professor of Marketing, Winter Nie, Professor of Leadership and Change Management, and Ivy Buche, Associate Director of the Business Transformation Initiative at IMD. The case describes how, under the leadership of Tom Fux, the global automaker built up a new mobility-service brand in Europe as a step towards becoming a mobility company.

Aiming to take advantage of the trend in consumer preferences for on-demand usership rather than ownership, KINTO, a joint venture between Toyota Financial Services and Toyota Motor Europe, grew through market-by-market deployment of KINTO-branded services across Europe. By 2021, KINTO’s services had expanded into car subscriptions, car sharing, carpooling and multi-modal solutions tailored to private individuals, businesses and cities.

But this brought new challenges, including building new capabilities in software and data analytics, managing the life cycle of its vehicles and enabling dealers to move to the new mobility paradigm. As Miguel Fonseca took charge as the new CEO, his challenge was to launch KINTO Europe on its next growth trajectory.

Fusing business and activism

Professor Turpin also took third prize for Kineer: A Social Marketing Challenge which he co-authored with Umashankar Venkatesh and Jones Mathew from the Great Lakes Institute of Management and Sandeep Puri from the Asian Institute of Management in Manila.

The case tells the story of Kineer Services Limited, set up in 2018 by Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, a prominent Indian transgender rights activist, dancer and actress, and Manish Jain, an ex-hospitality industry veteran, with the aim of providing a life of dignity to the socially stigmatized third gender community in India.

As well as the usual challenges around manufacturing, distribution and investment faced by startups, Tripathi and Jain also faced the dilemma of trying to differentiate its brand in the highly competitive and commoditized bottled water market using a unique value proposition based on gender inclusivity.

Among the issues they tackled were whether to market the product directly to consumers, which would require massive investments, or to position the brand in the B2B segment. A further consideration was whether to take up the offer from a third-party company to sell its products or whether this would compromise the brand identity.

Tesla on Snow?

The case Bobsla: E-Motion on Snow? by Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance Benoît Leleux took home fourth prize and tells the story of how Sergey Ignatyev, the Russian-born founder and CEO of Bobsla developed a business plan for an original electric snowmobile dubbed the “Tesla on Snow”.

Having built a successful prototype and generated publicity by organizing a “Formula on Snow” Grand Prix, the COVID pandemic threw a spanner in the works and put Bobsla’s finances to the test. Hoping to capitalize on the push towards greater sustainability, the case examines how Ignatyev rethought his business model, including questions around cost, manufacturing and how the snowmobile should be positioned, to try to build a compelling case for potential investors.