Students Virtually Compete to Come Up with the Best Solutions for Real-Time COVID-19 Business Challenges

Online Case Competition

Adding to the list of students’ firsts, we set in motion our first fully remote case competition given the current situation, while still maintaining its essence; getting students in front of real-world executives to compete on solving existent company challenges.


Building on the dynamic virtual academic experience that students are undergoing since the move to online learning, the AUC Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center (KCC), and the AUC Business Association (BA), teamed up to launch the first Online Case Competition (OCC).


During the one-day case competition held on April 28, 11 AUC student teams competed via Zoom on identifying challenges confronting a full-service digital agency, Robusta Studio, during COVID-19, and developing a strategy to address their key concerns so as to enable the business to attain its goals, in only four hours.


The students analyzed the company's strategic standing on the basis of a case study provided by KCC, authored by AUC alumna and American Center’s outreach specialist at the U.S Embassy in Cairo, Arpi Sarkish Khatcherian, tackling the entrepreneurial field and the scaleup is managing its operations during the pandemic through its different response strategies.


When the CEI team approached me about turning this case study into a competition, I was immediately sold. I was happy to revisit this case, originally published in 2015, and see - up-close - how the company has grown over the past five years. The innovative solutions that students came up with and the professional slideshows they presented were impressive. I believe this was a learning experience to everyone involved,” expressed Khatcherian. 


Following a 45-minutes briefing session on the case, student teams prepared their insights among themselves and afterward introduced their findings to a panel of evaluators, in particular: Apri Sarkish Khatcherian, Hussein Mohieldin, CEO of Robusta, Hala Barakat, director of the AUC Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Karim Samaha, country marketing manager at Froneri, Mohamed Farag Ahmed, AUC adjunct faculty member and founder and CEO of ESAC, and Randa El Bedawy Foad, associate professor of management at AUC School of Business.


The top three teams who came up with the best practices to deal with the crisis and save Robusta's operational existence through their astonishing case analysis have been offered an internship at Robusta, with the top team to be further granted a 10K EGP monetary prize upon return to campus.


“During this pandemic, professionals just as students are finding it difficult to adjust to the new circumstances and their associated uncertainties. Winning the OCC has certainly empowered my team and me to delve into the midst of a completely adaptable, digital-dependent world. Being a case highlighting Robusta Studio’s horizontal and vertical growth along with innovative strategies, we have profusely learned about business impediments and solutions amid the current pandemic. As such, we would like to thank CEI, KCC, and the BA team for fueling this opportunity,” communicated Omar El Darawy, a mechanical engineering student.


Given the recent COVID-19 outbreak, entrepreneurs have undoubtedly been facing major challenges. The overarching goal of the competition was to provide students with a thought-provoking method to identify challenges facing businesses in real-time, ensuring their learning beyond the digital classroom, and maintaining experiential learning despite the ongoing crisis.


"Taking part in organizing this competition online was definitely one of the biggest challenges we faced this year. Yet, the OCC will always stand as an icon to the agility of our school and a testimony to our dedication to serve and develop our business students under all circumstances, even while at home,” voiced Adham Assem and Nariman Abaza, BA ’19’20 President, and Vice President, respectively.