DC students shine in business competition

Photograph by Aly Beach

(Left to right) Joel Budhlall, Justin Pantaleo, Imina Edebiri, Peter Abolarin placed fourth in the BDC Case Challenge.

For the first time in history, Durham College made it to the finals of the Business Development Company (BDC) Case Challenge hosted at Vanier College in Montreal.

Business admin and marketing program students Imina Edebiri, 25, Justin Pantaleo, 21, Joel Budhlall, 21, Peter Abolarin, 23, made the top six in the first round of the competition of 24 post-secondary schools from across the country Feb. 10-11, with the help of their coaches and professors Sara Mercier and Sam Plati. The group placed fourth in the final round.

“It was a very proud moment,” says Pantaleo.

The competition was set up on a case-by-case basis per team. Each team was given a ‘case’, in which they must analyze the information, find the problem and come up with a recommendation, based on the company’s goals or objectives, on how to solve their business problem.

The groups had three hours to analyze and solve the problem and put together a 20-minute presentation for the panel of judges. They did it without internet or smartphones.

Due to the college faculty strike in first semester, the Durham group had less time to prepare. According to the group some students at other schools said they had been practising for up to 10 months, while the DC group only had two weeks to prepare due to the delay in organizing because of the strike.

“With the strike and everything, we really didn’t have time to prepare for this and schools from other provinces had been prepping since the start of the school year,” says Pantaleo.

The first case they dealt with was a CrossFit gym that needed to attract more members. The DC team focused on digital innovation as the target audience was considered tech-savvy, according to Pantaleo.

“We really wanted to target our advertisements more towards the digital side of things…so we did a social media campaign,” says Pantaleo.

The group also wanted to create an annual event for cross fitters to attract attention.

“We wanted to bring the community of cross fitters together. And to do that we wanted to hold like an annual competition that everyone could come to and participate in,” says Pantaleo.

The group made it to the finals because they found a unique angle: the owner of the cross fit company. According to Budhlall, not many other teams focused on that.

“What we were told what really set us apart and allowed us to go on to the finals was the fact that most teams were focusing strictly on the business side of marketing …but what we did differently from everyone else was we really highlighted the gym owner and his philanthropic messages,” says Budhlall.

The second and final case they worked on in the competition involved an ‘emergency daycare’ company that would go to companies and offer childcare services. Edebiri says in this case, the financial consideration of the case was their downfall.

“The most important aspect of why we didn’t place top three was the financial aspect. We just did a little bit of budgeting… but we didn’t go in-depth on how we were going to utilize the money. They wanted more of the financial aspect,” says Edebiri.

The team was disappointed that they didn’t finish in the top three, not just for themselves but for their coaches as well.

“I won’t lie… after they called the top three, I was really disappointed because like, ‘we are there, like, why can’t we just grab that’, and I wanted that so much for Sam,” says Edebiri.

While the team was disappointed they didn’t place in the top three, they were happy for the opportunity to travel to Montreal and have the experience.

“We’re very thankful to the school for providing the opportunity. They didn’t have to invite us…and we hope we did everyone proud,” says Pantaleo.