The G-Lab team working with PrimaVista could not have felt any better prepared to help the Indonesian mobile payment company continue their market dominance. While on campus during the fall semester, the team worked remotely with PrimaVista, getting the necessary background from the company's books and building a rapport with the executives. In addition, the students benefited from the input and wisdom of MIT Sloan faculty luminaries like Simon Johnson and Andrew Lo.
"We had such great information from our professors, our classes, our libraries," says team member Will Blodgett, MBA '12. "In the team's remote research report, we predicted exactly what the company would be going through at this point in their evolution. Our perceptions impressed the company and helped us rapidly earn their trust."
Armed with their classroom lessons, faculty insights, and their individual professional tool kits, the team set off for Indonesia full of optimism and the potential to help PrimaVista.
And then the team was robbed.
Within an hour of landing in Jakarta, everything the team owned—computers, cell phones, passports—was stolen.
But somehow the team remained optimistic. And in the end, they came to view the robbery as one of their most critical learning experiences.
As Blodgett explains, "We could either get upset and sulk and let it adversely affect our experience and our ability to help PrimaVista, or we could take it for what it was—this was the reality of doing business in an emerging market. It's not always safe and cuddly. There are rough patches."
By keeping a level head and remaining committed to the company and the work, the team earned PrimaVista's appreciation and respect and the trust between the two groups deepened.
In the end, the team's recommendations made a real impact on the future of PrimaVista. Says team member James Forsyth, MBA '12, "We took a bigger picture view of the company. It was clear to the team that PrimaVista needed a clearly expressed purpose and strategy; that this would be of critical importance as the company grows."
Ultimately, the students educated PrimaVista on their own market and convinced the company to return their focus to their core competency.
"It worked out better than we imagined," says Blodgett. "I'm thoroughly convinced that the one semester the team spent on campus with all the amazing resources and the month in Indonesia with the company, really in action, is the best combination of learning on the planet."