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April 14, 2010

Entrepreneurial Case Competition Focuses on How to Build a Brand

Columbia Business School's Case Competition 2010 concluded on April 8. Teams of first-year students took part in the competition.


Case Competition 2010, a joint effort by the Dean’s Office, the Arthur J. Samberg Institute for Teaching Excellence and Columbia CaseWorks, challenged students to apply concepts and theories to an entrepreneurial business opportunity. The event, sponsored by BNP Paribas, took place on April 8.

Teams of first-year students took part in the competition. The winning team included Alex Gordon, Hillary Lazarus, Ed Martin, Melvin Tan and Rob Wherry.

This term’s case, “Blow: The New York Blow Dry Bar,” followed CEO Julie Flakstad ’99 as she developed a strategy to build a nationally recognized brand for her hair-styling concept salon, Blow, which she founded in 2005. The company received an additional injection of capital from investors in early 2009. Students in the case competition examined the strategic direction of Blow and considered whether the company should open additional blow dry bars or expand distribution of its product line.

“The winners had a realistic sense of what it would take to expand the business,” said Professor Garrett van Ryzin, who participated as a faculty judge. “The quality of their analyses backed their recommendations.”

The panel of judges included Flakstad; Margaret Cannella ’76, adjunct professor of finance and economics; Cliff Schorer, adjunct professor of management and the case’s author; Robert Amen ’73, an executive in residence at the School and former chairman and CEO of the International Flavors and Fragrances Corporation; and van Ryzin, the Paul M. Montrone Professor of Private Enterprise.

For its analysis of the real-world case, the winning team was awarded $2,400; the second-place team won $1,000 and the remaining teams each won $500.