Another Set of Hands — and Minds

Apple MarketLab Team Molly Miranda, MBA ’10, Elizabeth McVay Greene, MBA ’10, and Nitida Wongthipkongka, LFM ’10, of the MarketLab group working with take time to pose for a picture with their staff mentor Tracy Carlson.

When Tracy Carlson, Director of Marketing and Communications at MIT Sloan, approached the student MarketLab group about considering Chocolate as a potential case, she didn’t envision herself involved in the venture. “I just thought the project would be a compelling one. MIT Sloan had done a project with Source Chocolate before during G-Lab,” Carlson says, “So I suggested [Amend/Source] as a MarketLab project.”, a non-profit that works to prevent road traffic injury in developing countries, makes use of a unique business model. Amend operates on the profits from its sister for-profit company Source Chocolate. It is the first non-profit to be selected to participate in MarketLab’s projects for the corporate world.

With both experience in food and cause marketing, Carlson was yet another practical resource offered to the student group. Her colleague, Laura Pinsky — also with a background in food marketing — offered an additional critical perspective to the students' projects. “We helped them find research. We sent them to many industry associations — ones for both chocolate and candy. We also suggested the Food Marketing institute,” says Carlson.

“I do a lot of food marketing. And in particular, I did gourmet food marketing,” Pinsky adds, “So I was able to specifically say to them, ‘Think about the gourmet food market this way. Here are some external resources that you might not know are available where students can get a lot of free support.’”

Pinsky also notes the rapid turnaround of the MarketLab projects. “The students are turning this around in a very short time. They have eight weeks. They don’t have a lot of time to get up to speed — go down different avenues, find it not working and then circle back. They’ve got to pick a goal and do it. I think that’s where we were really helpful. We were able to help them pick what not to do [for time’s sake].”

Though the constraints of the project were great, the students delivered their recommendations for the company and received positive feedback. Carlson also notes the student commitment to the project. “When I saw [the students] at the final MarketLab meeting, we talked about how the project went, how they could leverage MIT Sloan and Amend, how they could keep the project going.”

For the mentors of the MarketLab program, it was an opportunity to see firsthand that project-based learning creates an environment where students receive every additional resource possible.