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Henry Tam Case Study

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  Henry Tam is a second-year MBA student at Harvard Business School and has decided to enter the school’s annual business plan contest. The business plan contest began in 1996 as a channel to prepare students for entrepreneurship opportunities they may encounter post-graduation. The contest also offers students the opportunity to have experts and venture capitalists evaluate their ideas for launching a business which in turn would allow them to receive feedback in a realistic and supportive environment.

  Henry chose to join a team and came across a bulletin for Music Games International (MGI). MGI is a small start-up company founded by Sasha Gimpelson, Igor Tkachenko, and Roman Yakub. Together they had created a CD-ROM music game for children to enjoy playing while learning about music. The founders were aware that their strength was in production capabilities; however, they needed someone to guide them with general management and sales and marketing strategies for the children edutainment market.

  The team consisted of Henry Tam, Dana Soiman, the MGI founders, and two other students from different institutions; this allowed for more diversity in views and talents. Although the team was dynamic, they were conflicted in their vision for the company. The team had a desirable product to market but, they could not agree on the target market for the product. The founders wanted to go for the large, competitive entertainment market but, Henry and Dana wanted to plant their roots in the education market. The final business plan is now due in less than three weeks, and even though there have been countless meetings between the team, none have been productive. It is now up to Henry and Dana to figure out how to get the team on track and create a unique business plan.


  Music Games International has failed to establish a team process. The team is a diverse selection of members who would each attribute to the wholeness of the start-up company’s business plan. However, the team has such a chaotic work order that there has not been an opportunity to discuss the primary goal of the team. The MGI team has had noticeably significant trouble staying on track during meetings. Their unclear focus is primarily because each team member has a different perception of what their role in the making of the business plan is. The MGI team is disorganized and fails to communicate with one another; there is hostility between the founders and Henry and Dana. The founders are disengaged because they continuously form ideas without a specific outcome for their product - they continue to expand opinions on a product that is already to fruition. Henry and Dana are frustrated because they are trying their hardest to draw concepts for a business plan while receiving minimal input from the founders and others gradually added to the team.

  The MGI team has created the problems they are facing for two reasons:

  1. Their lack of discussion around who would play what role during the process of making the business plan.
  2. The communication between team members diminished as meetings continued.

  Although the team has areas of opportunity, there are individual strengths to be found. The concentrations within the group are unique strengths that contribute to the team. These advantages are highly noticeable after reading each team members biography submitted to the business plan contest.

  Music Games International has an influential group of people who have expertise in many areas that would only benefit the company. Although Sasha is considered the businessman of the founders, his business background is seemingly uneasy because he has not honed in on one area of knowledge. However, with Igor and Roman’s musical experience and with Roman’s abundant teaching connections with a history of teaching electronic and computer music – this builds a pathway to a successful product reaching the educational market. Dav Clark, a student at MIT, is leading a team of graduate and undergraduate students in developing software, he is also a member of The Voice Institute and Bread and Jams where he uses music creatively to educate the Boston metropolitan community. Dav's influence in developing software will allow MGI to ensure they have the best product for the market and his ability to help educate guides the team into the educational market yet again. Alex Sartakov, a student at Berklee College of Music, has a dual major in Music Business Management and Music Production and Engineering. Alex is a rare asset to the team because, even though there are others on the team with business experience, he knows music business management specifically. With Henry and Dana in the group, this allows for fresh minds to walk in and influence the business plan profoundly with their experience learned in the MBA program through Harvard Business School.



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