Students shift gears for Specialized at Innovation Challenge

A streamlined store experience that makes shopping for bikes less intimidating, and a chain of Specialized indoor cycling studios to get people comfortable with riding outdoors were two of the stand-out ideas at the DISC Innovation Challenge last weekend.
The annual event this year featured a business challenge from Specialized bicycles. COO-USA Joe Brunetti, MBA 92, Director of Global Retail Services Joe Wheadon, and five other Specialized representatives served as judges. Design consultants from IDEO guided students through the iteration and innovation process.
DISC_Specialize_I-Challege Students got the chance to try out a Specialized electric bike, called the Turbo.

Brunetti said he was impressed with the students' inquisitiveness and creativity, and how the short timeframe created a sense of urgency and unleashed their creative energy. He hopes to invite Haas students to participate in an internal brainstorming session at Specialized.

"One of the challenges in managing a business is that over time the team puts on blinders. It becomes easier to spend more time thinking of why we cannot do something, rather than why we can do something," Brunetti said. "You go into 'protect' mode instead of being on offense. The energy of the Haas students could challenge our thinking and pre-dispositions."


Katerina Barilov, Sandeep Pahuja, and Dan Goldman, all MBA 15, organized the event for the Design & Innovation Strategy Club (DISC). The goal is to give students hands-on practice with the design thinking under time pressure.
While there was not technically a "winning" team, Specialized judges chose the plan for a streamlined shopping experience—which students presented in the form of a skit—as their favorite. The team included Marisa Johnson, Juan Franceschini, both MBA 16; Andrew Goodman, MBA 15; along with Hasnain Nazar of the School of Information and Alexandra Alden of the multi-disciplinary Development Practice department.

About The Author

Laura is a senior marketing and communications manager at Berkeley-Haas. As a former journalist, she finds no shortage of interesting stories to tell at Haas. As a Cal alum, she loves being able to walk to work through redwood groves along Strawberry Creek.