Now showing items 21-40 of 6818

    • Scaling up a Chinese online travel platform in the European market: Business development strategy for Germany, Spain and the UK

      Roex, Gitte; Van De Sompel, Matthias; Verwimp, Lien (2018)
      Scaling up to more than 3000 spots by the end of 2018. That is what Shake To Win (STW) has been working towards since its inception in January 2017, with a mission to preserve culture by leveraging technology. The WeChat-based app for Chinese free, independent travellers currently showcases local, authentic spots in more than 75 European cities, and provides attractive incentives for its users who are in search of a more cultural European experience. However, the company is facing an uphill challenge, as their competition is intense, with many considerably-sized players all fighting to attract the same partners and users onto their platforms. To survive in this crowded, fast-paced environment, it is therefore crucial that companies like STW
    • Standardization of HR practices for a decentralised IT-environment

      Michem, Sam; Vermeire, Quentin; Vuylsteke, Michiel (2018)
    • Set up a consulting activity to help companies electrifying their fleet

      Beenkens, Gilles; Houtart, Loïc (2018)
      In a society where all our habits and rituals are changing as fast as ever, the evolution of mobility is as fascinating as unpredictable. Autonomous vehicles are on everyone’s lips, the increasing prices of oil keep worrying every household worldwide, company cars are a central topic in almost every company, alternative sources of energy are an inspiration for people that care about their environmental footprint and the use of individual cars is more than ever being challenged by interesting substitutes such as public transportation, ebikes and car-sharing. It is in this regard that Lampiris, a Walloon energy provider owned by Total S.A., is looking to settle on the market of electric vehicles. This report, conducted in the scope of an In-Company project by two students of the Vlerick Business School, has as objective to give an answer to whether and how Lampiris could have a role to play in the development of a service related to setting up a fleet electrification plan. Having set up its own plan aiming to have a fully electrified fleet of vehicles by 2021, the Belgian company possesses the necessary level of expertise, and is now fully ready to support other companies in the switch towards electric. Additionally, the financial and infrastructural support from parent company Total ensures a sense of reliability and trust, allowing Lampiris to build upon it. In order to reach the fixed objectives, twenty interviews with fleet managers, CEOs, EV and mobility experts have been conducted and based on these as well as on some extensive research, two business models are proposed and fully developed in this report. The development of these business models has strongly been influenced by the actual state of the market of electric vehicles. The main observation done through the research is how much people try to convince themselves neither them nor the market are ready to embrace electric mobility. However, the market proves everyone wrong as anyone willing and motivated to go electric can already do so today as models of electric vehicles are invading the markets and charging infrastructure is getting installed at several strategic spots. This report thus presents two business models that Lampiris should focus on to establish itself as expert and leader on the market. The first business model is fully related to supporting companies with their fleet electrification plan and represents the biggest market. The second solution has been developed with the objective to serve another customer segment, allowing owners of public parking to invest in the installation of charging infrastructure in order to attract the community of electric vehicles to their facilities. Both solutions follow the same angle of approach and have some common goals, namely clarifying the many uncertainties that compose the electric market today, as well as raising awareness about why electric is a good and positive solution for everyone. This will be done through the creation of an online platform based on the freemium model. E-learning, test-drives, specific tools, surveys and decision trees and general information are the main elements that are to be found on the platform. Whenever a company gets interested in including electric to its fleet or services, it reaches out to Lampiris and both parties get to work, starting with a meeting between the concerned parties. It is all about planning, discussing what has to be put in place, and this for both business models. Step three is about the activation of the plan, focusing more on the how and on finalizing the last details of the plan. The fourth and last phase is the full execution of the plan, namely the purely operational part. As it is the last step of our business models, full maintenance and continuous follow-up are essential in order to ensure a longlasting relationship. Both solutions tend to be complementary. Having a similar structure with some similar focus points, like the online platform, they both got created starting off from totally different questions and focus on distinct customer segments. Offering both services will allow Lampiris to broaden its angle of approach and to cover more needs and a larger demand, while developing the solutions simultaneously and similarly. The services that are to be launched are considered as viable and highly profitable. If they were launched individually they would break-even after a couple of months. The break-even point is to be reached even faster if both models were launched together, as initial costs may be cut thanks to possible combinations in marketing and the creation of the e-learning platform. Lampiris has to be aware that starting such a business represents very low risk. Some serious effort is required, but the initial investment is relatively low, as it mainly consists of the creation of the e-learning platforms and the marketing and advertising costs. It is obvious that to some extent, Lampiris is depending on the development of the market, as it is waiting for manufacturers to offer new and better models, for batteries to have better autonomy and for the infrastructure to further expand, in order to be able to counter the fears and uncertainties of critics. However, by offering these services, Lampiris not only tries to seize the opportunity the electric market offers, but it wants to be a main actor in the development of the market itself by pushing, but especially guiding people towards electric. However, mobility today is much more than only electric as one is fully aware of how much mobility is about to change in the next decade. Even though experts, surveys and studies all go in opposite directions, the consensus on the impact it will have on our daily lives is easily reached. Therefore, Lampiris has to be more than ever aware that electric vehicles are only a first step towards a better mobility, but that other components like e-bikes, car sharing, and public transportation are part of it. It is up to Lampiris to include these features in the fleet electrification plans, as well as to build smart charging points that will be able to embrace autonomous vehicles as soon as these will start invading our markets.
    • Revision of the current and implementation of a new business model, optimization of the production and processing and development of a marketing plan for a quinoa-exporting start-up in Peru

      Swyngedouw, Ina; Van Hoofstadt, Evelien; Vermunicht, Eva (2018)
      This paper is written by Eva, Evelien and Ina and realised by Vlerick Business School and Solid Food. The objectives of the project are to improve the business model, costs structure and marketing strategy of Solid Food. The quinoa market, production and processing have been examined in detail, based on an extensive market study, observations and interviews. The start-up Solid Food is a vertically integrated organization that exist of the two entities Solid Food Peru and Solid Food Europe. Solid Food Peru has control over the production, processing and export of the high-quality crops on the highlands of Ayacucho while the entity Solid Food Europe offers services to European customers. This vertical integration ensures a sustainable cooperation model. Solid Food has a lot of growth opportunities but a revision of their business model is needed in order to stay competitive. First of all, the company faces a lot of challenges in keeping their farmers loyal as there is a lot of competition due to other buyers in the area. Secondly, Solid Food has to buy their complete sales volume for a year in a short period of two months (during harvest) which requires the availability of a lot of cash. We looked into opportunities to improve or change the current business models in order to resolve these challenges. Proposed changes or additions to the existing business of Solid Food: Improvements in the current business model Two options are possible for only minimally changing the current business model so it can be implemented in the short term. The first option is to improve the current model by spreading the costs of buying quinoa more over time. Usually, there is still some quinoa available in the months after the harvest. Depending on the amount of harvest that is still left, prices might be lower in this period. Caution is, however, necessary as there might also be not enough yield left, resulting in higher prices. The second option is to work with farmers further away from Ayacucho, who are often more loyal. However, this will be a more expensive (longer distances, more time) and temporary solution (competition will move to these regions as well).Prefinancing By implementing a system of prefinancing, farmers receive their main inputs for the production of quinoa from Solid Food. This relieves the financial pressure on the farmers and they will not need to look for loans to finance the production. Therefore, it will increase the loyalty and reduce side-selling of the farmers. The costs of Solid Food are more spread over time as they have to finance the inputs during the year. The cost for the prefinancing is passed on to the farmers in the final prices offered to them after harvest. Own production fields Here we propose Solid Food to rent its own production fields to provide a minimal stock margin of quinoa. This is a challenging task as agricultural grounds around Ayacucho are hard to find and widely scattered. Furthermore, it will not be easy to find farmers willing to work for them. Own production fields are more expensive than farmers cultivating quinoa independently because Solid Food needs to hire an extra assessor, hire own workforces, pay the transport to the fields, give the employees some additional incentives to motivate them, etc. It is however very interesting to set this up on a limited scale, as it is an interesting opportunity to improve production and to have total control over the production process. Solid Prime Solid Prime is mainly based on rewarding loyal farmers and disincentivising disloyal farmers. The quinoa producers pay a small fee at the beginning of the campaign to receive additional help from Solid Food in the production of their quinoa. After this project is set up with a small number of farmers, we do believe other farmers will see the benefits and will also want to join and subscribe for Solid Prime. The main objective of this model is to make farmers more loyal to Solid Food and avoid side-selling. Farmers want to recuperate the fee they had to pay and this is only possible by selling their yield to Solid Food during the harvest. Forward contracts This is a long-term vision for when market prices are more stable and Solid Food has strengthened the relationship with the farmers. Forward contracts enable Solid Food to make agreements on the buying price with the farmers at the beginning of the campaign. The agreed price will be paid to the producer at the beginning of the season so they have sufficient cash to finance the production of their quinoa. However, the price per kilogram will be slightly lower than the expected market price. Farmers see the early cash as an advantage and are therefore open to receive a slightly lower price for their quinoa. Solid Food is in this way able to slightly reduce the high costs of buying the raw material. The next problem for Solid Food is the high final price of their quinoa compared to other companies in the market. The cost structure is analysed and there is looked for ways to reduce these in order to lower prices and stay competitive. The purchase of raw quinoa represents 70% of the total cost price of the quinoa. As prices are mainly set by the big players in the market, Solid Food has little power to change these. Alternatively, methods to improve the yield on the production field are investigated. With these methods (like the use of a small sowing tool) farmers are expected to be able to produce more and therefore sell and earn more. A system to divide these benefits between the farmers and Solid Food helps to reduce the cost of the raw material. The second biggest cost of the quinoa production is the processing. In order to reduce this cost, it is investigated how waste can be reduced and hence efficiency increased. There are few options to change the machines at the fully automated processing plant and the investment in better machines is currently too expensive for the young company. Smaller measures (like setting a minimum processing quantity) can be taken to improve the efficiency on the short-term. The last topic that is currently important for Solid Food is marketing and customer relationships. In order to grow, Solid Food has to gain market recognition. Both its direct and end customers have to get to know the brand and where it stands for: high-quality and sustainable quinoa with a social dimension. Therefore, Solid Food should start working with a CRM program to reach a wide public that might be interested in the quinoa. Secondly, a QR code can be introduced to differentiate and share the mission and vision of the company. Lastly, the introduction of a private label might spark brand recognition. Next to marketing, it is essential to make customers engaged to the brand. The company should not only be passionate about its quinoa but also about their customer. By being the middleman and making a direct collaboration between the customers and the farmers, Solid Food can make both parties more loyal.
    • Rethinking the organization of the fleet management of a B2B helicopter service company

      Coelus, Joeri; Hanegreefs, Leander; Mathijs, Alexander (2018)
      A recent decrease in the helicopter service sector and more demanding customers, led to higher levels of idle fleet of a helicopter service provider in comparison to the early days of the company. In an effort to become more agile and efficient, the company has responded by allowing more independency for the operational bases, thus evolving from a centralized to a decentralized organization. The helicopter fleet on the other hand, was not decentralized, resulting in an unclear ownership of the fleet -particularly of the idle fleet. The responsibility vacuum for idle helicopters led to neglected maintenance, and consequently the company incurred fines and extra maintenance costs. Moreover the idle fleet levels remained substantially high for a significant amount of time. Conclusively, the objectives of this project are to find a solution for the responsibility vacuum that exists for the idle fleet and to explore solutions to ensure a minimal level of idle fleet. To get a better understanding of the problem and to understand the daily business of the company, around 30 intensive interviews were conducted with people working for the company. The selected interviewees all had their unique view on the problem because of their position in a certain department or because of their geographical remoteness from the headquarters of the company, i.e. at the more operational helicopter bases abroad. The purpose of these interviews was to uncover the best practice and insights of the people who worked at this company for years. Subsequently, three different solutions have been considered, differing in the extent of responsibility given to the bases and thus in the degree of decentralization. The first option considers giving complete ownership of the helicopters to the bases in line with the decentralization strategy. The second option is to give complete ownership to the fleet management that will take solitary decisions concerning the fleet. Eventually, the third option, a hybrid model, has been chosen for reasons stated below to conciliate both models. In this solution, a central business unit leases out helicopters to bases and thus transfers the responsibility of helicopters to the bases. The business unit itself takes responsibility for the fleet that remains non-assigned and which is thus idle. The aforementioned new business unit is created from the current fleet department and has an expanded range of responsibilities in order to offer an appropriate solution for the idle fleet issues. To ensure adequate care for the idle fleet, an internal leasing system is established with all helicopters - including the idle ones - becoming the responsibility of the newly created business unit. Consequently, the unit is called the fleet leasing unit, or the FLU. If a base is in need for a helicopter for a project, it arranges an internal leasing contract with the FLU, after which it receives a helicopter. The contract is a simple internal document, stating the duration and the obligations of each party, and symbolizes the transfer of responsibility. Note that a base becomes completely responsible for elements such as maintenance, unexpected events, and idle time as long as this contract holds. To check if the bases uphold their part of the contract, the FLU would also do compliance reviews at appropriate times to see if all helicopters are managed properly at the bases. Moreover modifications and "de-modifications" of helicopters are also arranged by the FLU as the bases require different specifications for helicopters depending on the project and obtain the needed helicopters through the FLU. The fact that idle fleet becomes the responsibility of the FLU also signifies it has to arrange maintenance for the idle fleet. Either the FLU could contact third party maintenance providers, or it could look for maintenance internally, at the bases of NHV. For internal maintenance the distinction could be made between central or decentralized maintenance, respectively meaning idle fleet maintenance at a single base of NHV or at several bases. Below the consideration was also made for the FLU to own its own maintenance crew, however for reasons stated there this was deemed ill advised. Moreover after carefully weighing the different options, the decentralized option, with maintenance happening at several bases still remains the preferred option as it maximally uses the existing capacity. Another responsibility of the FLU is the sourcing of helicopters, possible through a financial lease, an operational lease, a bank loan, renting or own capital. As is currently the case, the FLU would conduct sourcing in cooperation and with approval of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors after the presentation of a valid business case composed by the base manager and the commercial department. Next to sourcing the FLU must also look for ways to make the idle fleet useful again, by either leasing out, renting out, or by selling specific vessels. Therefore, this responsibility satisfies the second objective of this project by making sure the amount of idle fleet remains low. Note that if helicopters are interchanged between bases, so called cross base trading, the FLU will not intervene or coordinate. This is the responsibility of the bases and the operational department at the headquarters. However, the FLU should be informed if these practices occur. After a workload analysis the FLU was decided to consist of two different profiles. The first function is the sourcing manager, who mainly takes on the task of sourcing. This person would have a more commercial and senior profile to be able to negotiate and put demands on the table. Secondly there is the fleet coordinator, who takes care of the internal leasing system, the maintenance of the idle fleet and the (de)modifications, requiring experience and technical knowledge of the industry. The fleet coordinator incorporates a lot of the tasks of the current fleet manager, consequently the latter position would be redefined. The two newly created functions would cooperate in assigning fleet to the different bases and would keep oversight of the future demand for helicopters. Note that the FLU replaces the current fleet management department and would still be held accountable to the CTO. The validity of the concept of the FLU to was evaluated by composing a business case. The personnel cost of each function in the FLU is estimated around 80k, indicating the FLU only needs to bring in an equal amount of revenue by utilizing the idle fleet, or needs to prevent enough costs because of negligence of the idle fleet. Moreover by actively sourcing out helicopters, the sourcing manager could downgrade the ICP Vlerick Business School 2017-2018 v
    • Research on drivers for e-commerce by Belgian SMEs and sales funnel generation

      Van Bever, Gilles; Van Kerkhoven, Bert (2018)
      For our In-Company project we worked for the company Storesquare, who developed a new concept named Streetrabbits. Since students walked around in cities conducting surveys, this concept is a combination of market research and project management as some leadership and organizational skills were tested while launching it. Also, an entrepreneurial mindset was desirable in order to come up with new ideas and to tackle practical and logistic problems. The purpose of our assignment was twofold: on one hand we had to gather a significant amount of data from merchants in Flanders to see what stages have been reached regarding their e-commerce activities. By analyzing this data, we came up with meaningful insights. On the other hand, we had to test whether this new market research approach can be made more efficiently and if it is scalable in other circumstances like smaller cities or villages. In order to guide us on our way, an initial survey was given by Storesquare but was soon modified to improve the quality. We conducted 283 surveys from 1.105 stores who were visited in Roeselare and Ghent. However, our project got a new dimension whereas 122 surveys were filled in through an e-mail campaign where fashion stores in Flanders were targeted. A key take-away is that there are a lot of misconceptions at SMEs in Ghent and Roeselare regarding the behaviour of their customers. Out of the SMEs that had no online presence, almost half of the respondents justified this by assuming that their customers were not online as well. In Ghent, 38% of SMEs claimed that their customers did not shop online. Another misconception that was identified, using a logistic regression that modelled the probability of an SME engaging in e-commerce, was the size of the cost that are associated with engaging in e-commerce. As a proxy for the cost associated with engaging in e-commerce, an estimate was asked for the cost of the delivery of a package of 5kg. Store owners who estimated this cost between 4 and 7 euro were 44% less likely to engage in e-commerce compared to the store owners that expected sending a package costs less than 4 euro. For the group of store owners that expected this to cost more than 11 euro, the probability of engaging in e-commerce even dropped by 88% compared to the group that estimated this to cost less than 4 euro. We can conclude that, in general, the costs that are associated with e-commerce are being overestimated and the online presence of the customers of SMEs are being underestimated by the SME. Since our model indicates that these beliefs have a very substantial effect on the probability of engaging in e-commerce, we can conclude that there is great potential for Storesquare in creating awareness among SMEs regarding the actual costs associated with ecommerce and customer behaviour. Furthermore, this research has investigated how different attributes affect willingness-to-pay for e-commerce and the probability of engaging in e-commerce. This research indicates a positive, statistically significant relation between willingness-to-pay as well as the probability of engaging in e-commerce on one hand and tech savviness and the number of employees on the other hand. A negative relation between the age of the firm and the probability of engaging in e-commerce was confirmed as well. A very specific and in-depth explanation of the construction of our approach and the magnitude of the relations can be found in this research.
    • Research on website traffic and conversion optimisation in e-commerce

      Schmitt Walker, Gustavo (2018)
      This report provides an analysis and evaluation of AXA Belgium’s house and apartment insurance e-commerce channel with the purpose of identifying changes that could be done in order to optimize the conversion rates of visitors who go through the website. As AXA Belgium has set out to perform A/B tests, a method that allows the company to experiment with changes in the website and measure their performance with a low cost and risk, the project aims at systematically identifying which elements and pages present the best testing opportunities in terms of potential gains, as well as possible issues users may be facing. The approach to identifying hypotheses, which were then suggested as A/B tests, was divided into three segments: website and conversion data analysis, industry benchmarks and usability analysis. The first refers to studies of the data gathered from the website in order to identify differences between cohorts, bottlenecks in the conversion funnel and the possible reasons for these bottlenecks. The benchmarks were investigated by looking at the websites of competitors and AXA France in order to identify points of parity that AXA Belgium did not have, as well as looking at the flow and questions asked. The usability analysis looked at video session recordings and user interviews to identify points of friction in the website. Results of the analyses indicate that the way the price is displayed on AXA’s website, as well as the fact that some elements that affect the price are not evidenced, are a major point of frustration for users causing many to abandon the website without a purchase. It is also clear that there are too many steps and questions in the website, which is discouraging for many potential clients. Finally, there were significant differences in terms of conversion of certain cohorts based on nationality, language spoken and type of insurance they were seeking. The report finds that the flow must undergo some structural changes if the company wishes to see significant increases in return on investment. The main recommendations made are: to simplify the flow in terms of length and number of questions; to display the pricing in a pick-and-choose model; and to further investigate the reasons why cohorts converted more (foreign nationals) or less (Dutch speakers and house insurance-seekers) to address these targets strategically.
    • Retail partners profitability and sales excellence

      Rosales, Maria Fernanda; Nguyen Thi Phuong, Thao; Granmayeh, Niloufar (2018)
    • Monetization in B2B SaaS industry and optimizing customer segmentation model

      Misirlilar, Gülçin; Borja, Justine Kyle (2018)
      This in-company project aims to identify the winning monetization strategies in the B2B SaaS industry which Teamleader can potentially tap into, and at the same time, identify the most optimal customer segmentation model through quantitative analysis. Chapter 1 talks about Teamleader as a company, its history, value proposition, product offerings, presence in the EU market, and the direction of the company. This chapter also talks about the evolution of Teamleader from product - platform through the marketplace, and its most recent project launch during 2018's work smarter event, which was the €1M integration fund. Chapter 2 outlines the scope and limitations of the project statement which mainly revolves around monetization and customer segmentation, as these are the main objectives and deliverables of this market research. The project statement also requires a detailed study and report on competitor's monetization strategies as a benchmark, a proposal on new/adapted revenue streams which the researchers would like to further explore on, an interactive revenue model to show its impact, and a quantified customer segmentation model through the use of relative preference analysis and Van Westendorp's price sensitivity meter. Chapter 3 enumerates the 3 different key drivers of SaaS: Acquisition, Retention, and Monetization. This chapter provides both a literature review and internal data from Teamleader on the different strategies that the company has been doing in relation to these drivers. Moreover, a thorough competitor's analysis was also conducted in order to benchmark some monetization strategies which are currently being used in the market. Lastly, the proposed monetization strategies of the researchers were also discussed in this chapter and its foreseeable impact to Teamleader. Chapter 4 displays the interactive revenue model created by the researchers that shows the impact of data enrichment and white-labelling to the MRR of Teamleader. This chapter also highlights the different metrics crucial to a SaaS business. Chapter 5 discusses the current customer segmentation model of Teamleader and why is there a need to optimize this model. This chapter also tackles some business cases relating to the segmentation strategies of other similar companies in the SaaS industry. Furthermore, the jobs to be done framework was also discussed as this is one of the many frameworks which Teamleader is looking into for potentially segmenting its customers. Chapter 6 lists all the different methodologies which the researchers have done in pursuance of the objectives of the market research. Wiki Survey and Qualtrics were the main survey tools that were used in this study and was used accordingly to the target participants. The Wiki Survey was used during the Work Smarter event of Teamleader in Belgium to find out the different JTBDs of both the customers and non-customers of Teamleader. On the other hand, Qualtrics was used as the main survey tool that was sent internally to Teamleader customers through HubSpot. The survey duration and distribution methods were also talked about in this chapter. Chapter 7 puts a more elaborate focus on Wiki Survey and Typeform. In this chapter, the researchers discussed how the survey was designed and how the data was analyzed. From the Work Smarter event, the researchers were able to gather 159 respondents which was an optimal number, as 100 respondents is the minimum number to arrive at a good conclusion. Furthermore, the researchers were able to identify the Top JTBDs that matter to the attendees regardless if they are Teamleader's customers or not. Chapter 8 is the biggest part of this market research as this highlights the 2 main analysis which the researchers conducted towards optimizing the customer segmentation model of Teamleader: elative Preference analysis and Van Westendorp price sensitivity analysis. This chapter talked about literature reviews which indicates the importance and benefits of using such analysis towards segmentation. Moreover, the survey design was also very important as both analysis had very unique ways of asking questions in order to arrive with the desired results. Having said this, chapter 8 also scrutinizes the different variables which the researchers have used in finding the most optimal customer segmentation model. The researchers have opted in performing the customer-based analysis which takes service and service + material and number of users into account, whilst product-based analysis looked at the different modules a customer is using and adding the said variables. Through these different analysis, the researchers were able to pinpoint the unique differentiation among Teamleader users and some potential areas to improve on. The Van Westendorp analysis was also supported by a revenue-demand curve which poses a question to Teamleader's strategy in relation to choosing low price over more customers, or high revenue but low customers. Lastly, chapter 9 illustrates the proposed customer segmentation model made by the researchers. This model was purely based on the data-driven analysis which the researchers have acquired from the previously mentioned chapters. In the end, the researchers were able to merge the most preferred Teamleader features given by the respondents and associate it with their willingness to pay. From experimenting different segmentation factors, the researchers also arrived at a conclusion that a customer-based analysis which is segmented by the number of users is the way to go for Teamleader, instead of a service and service + material segmentation. To summarize, the different literature review, data gathering, statistical techniques, and analysis were all crucial factors in achieving the deliverables and giving a solution to Teamleader's burning management questions. The recommendations given were all a representation for what Teamleader can possibly do in the future.
    • Optimizing mobility with eChair: Business model development and market strategy analysis

      Dimitrakopoulos, Nikolaos; Lin, Ji; Sanfeliu, Marcoantonio (2018)
      The eChair project that Ford Motor developed is a wheelchair with electric wheels that can be navigated and stored in the trunk of a car lifted by an electric loading arm, automatically. This project was proclaimed as one of the best new concepts for 2017 in Ford Reasearch and Innovation Center. The user's journey consists of the use of the wheelchair to reach the car (phase 1), the process of the user entering the car (phase 2) and the automatic process of the wheelchair that drives itself to the trunk and is lifted and stored by the electric arm (phase 3). Phase 2 is not considered as a part of the project while at the end of phase 3 the trunk closes automatically. The opposite route takes place every time the user parks the car and starts the process of getting the wheelchair next to the driving position. The purpose of this innovation is to increase mobility and provide convenience to the disabled. This concept was highly evaluated by the Ford, internally. *The wheelchair is a product that belongs to the assistive market; it is the market that includes products such as hearing aids, wheelchairs, spectacles and memory aids. According to W.H.O., "assistive products maintain or improve an individual's functioning and independence, thereby promoting their well-being." Ford is already working on adapted cars for disabled and eChair is not their first initiative. Particularly in Spain, the company has developed a few models that are adapted in various ways and this initiative is called Ford Adapta. A significant progress has been made during the five years of Adapta's operations. The initiative contains promotion tours throughout the country in partnership with the dealers, where they bring all the adapted cars allowing people with disabilities to try and order them. People with disabilities do not usually have the chance to just search for any specialized adapting company and this initiative is bridging the gap, bringing benefits to Ford. Adapta is supervised by the Aftersales team in the country and it is a unique team with no similar initiatives in other countries for Ford. * The eChair operates as following; On the wheelchair, a set of electric wheels has been adapted together with a battery kit to help the wheelchair move automatically and to assist the user complementary. The navigation system is responsible to lead the wheelchair to the trunk, back and forward and the electric arm is responsible to uplift and drop the wheelchair out. The concept can be activated by a smart phone and at the same time the navigation system of the car should be connected by Bluetooth with the electric loading arm, to let the complete system operate efficiently. The project, developed internally, is considered tech-feasible. The prototype has been tested from the company and it is proved that operates smoothly. On the other hand, there are a few challenges to be addressed on this report: The desirability of the concept is an objective that needs to be identified and analyzed. This analysis will reveal if there is a gap in the market. In other words, if people would like to purchase and use this solution. Secondly, it will be examined if the concept will be economically viable, meaning that the final version of the product should be specified and the way it will be offered to the market must be beneficial for the company and for the customer. Additionally, the issue of the unit or venture that will launch the product to the market must be identified. At this stage it should be clear if the company proceeds alone, cooperates with manufacturers and/or sellers or delegates the development to another company. If the findings prove to be poor, then there is the possibility of holding the project until the circumstances mature. Not only the demand for this product should be measured, but also the version of the prototype that will be delivered to the market. Taking into consideration the parts of this innovation, there can be four different versions of the concept and a specific one must be chosen for the launch. The four versions can be conducted bellow;Version 1:Wheelchair / electrification kit / loading arm / navigation system. Version 2:Electrification kit / loading arm / navigation system. ersion 3:arm / navigation system Version 4:Navigation system. All the challenges, mentioned above, are faced using appropriate methods and techniques. Firstly, a theoretical approach is developed to put all the existing data into a framework and examine all the potential solutions through theoretical models. Once the business model is developed, all the possible solutions are elaborated on the table. Also, the business model canvas provides specific information about the concept that can be used to underline specific solution paths. At the same time the most challenging and complex questions about the concept are simplified and analyzed to subcomponents, to be easily verified. Moreover, the analysis of the market provides the opportunity to go deep into the various external environments and assemble the framework for the business model that is chosen. The theoretical research proved that there is a lot of competition in the external environment; there are at least 9 major companies in the EU and in the US that develop electric wheelchairs and relative projects. The eChair project seems not to be that interested in partners such as the assistive product makers or other major car manufacturers due to the solutions that they have developed until now. On the other hand, specialized adapting companies find the product interesting and a solution that can sell. After the framework development, a targeted research is applied to penetrate deeper to the stimulus and gather certified data. This research targets the end users and adapting manufacturers and potential partners. For the end users, a questionnaire is built up and sent to the Adapta tour events in Spain. This questionnaire is designed to address the reaction, the usability and the feedback of end users that will visit and experience the prototype, there. This survey also includes information about the market and the existing solutions that are used now and the potential convenience that eChair can offer. Information is also gathered from the professionals and adapting manufactures. This is a crucial information as it is the first time that the concept is presented to key players and specialists and these data can determine whether the concept can be viable or not. Moreover, these people provide useful technical feedback due to their know-how and their strong orientation to similar or identical projects. The data from the partners and the users provided valuable information for the concept. Data such as the features that the wheelchair users prefer in adaptations, the average time required to adapt a car and the increasing demand for assistive products. All these data helped to finalize the business model canvas and provide a descend path to launch the product to the market. Moreover, the challenges and risks could be mitigated since the information captured could assist provide alternative solutions. At the methodology section, all the actions taken are analyzed and the reasons and goals behind them. One of the objectives was to balance the limited information for eChair with online findings and theoretical models and tools that could lead to a conclusion. Finally, at the recommendation, the business model that is proclaimed is a combination of the first two versions; electrification kit / loading arm / navigation system, plus the manual wheelchair for demonstration and purchase purposes. Ford is not advised to launch the product in the market alone but rather to do a partnership. Since eChair is fully patented, the company is encouraged to cooperate with adapting and medical companies in the area. In this way, eChair will gain proximity and visibility since the end user will reach the product easier through the partners. Moreover, the partners will offer knowhow, appropriate test reports and after sales service and warranty, factors that are crucial for the product and Ford will not have to invest on them. With the ability to have the wheelchair as an extra feature for the customers that need the complete package and for demonstration purposes. The market in Belgium is quite attractive for the eChair and Ford can cooperate with the partners proposed in the survey to launch and promote the product. This is action can be an Adapta-like initiative and the partners should possess prototypes that they can promote to customers. Since eChair is a Ford product, the company apart from the financial benefits, will gain visibility and reputation for acting responsibly for the society.
    • Optimization of equity management for start-ups and venture capital firms through the development of a capitalization table management platform

      Ghailan, Badr; Farinha, João; Chandrashekar, Vimarsh (2018)
      The environment that start-ups have to face in their early development stages is extremely though and often drives these young companies to failure. In the early stages of a company many struggles surface: the difficulty of getting financed, the lack of knowledge from [often first-time] entrepreneurs in areas such as finance or law, problems stemming from weak company-investor communication, the issues with navigating the legal framework and probably the most important, the challenges related with operations. Dealing with all of the previous drains a considerable amount of time and resources from these ventures. The purpose of this project is to develop a platform to be used by both Venture Capital Firms and Start-ups (as well as some designated stakeholders) in order to improve the information flow between the different parties. In the first part of this work we focus on verifying the existence of a problem and defining it concretely. To do so we defined a methodology on how to approach the research. We have come to the conclusion that interviewing different Start-ups and Venture Capital Firms was the best way to go in-depth into the issues faced by them. While the interviews usually end up having a considerable lower sample of answers than alternative methods (since they require more time and effort from the respondents) the importance of in-depth answers far out-weighted the alternative of higher amount of brief answers. Still in the methodology chapter we have defined how to approach the research for similar platforms available on the market. We believe this is a crucial part of the work as in order to start developing the platform we need to know what the main features offered are, the type of customers targeted and the pricing of such platforms. In the next part of the report we go over the outcomes obtained employing the methodology, covering the competitors found and the answers obtained in the interviewing process. For competitors we have found six companies offering comparable services in the United States (namely: TruEquity, Carta, CapShare, Slicing Pie, CapTable.io and Certent) and two in Europe (ReporTally and Ledgy). As for the interviews' outcome we were able to make the following conclusions: both Venture Capital Firms and start-ups use exclusively Excel to manage their cap tables due to its user-friendliness and the fact that is globally accepted; interaction between investors and companies is done either through emails or phone calls; none of the eleven interviewees (six representing start-ups and the other five Venture Capital Firms) were aware of the existence of capitalization management platforms; both Venture Capital Firms and start-ups are more favorable towards having legal advice from their lawyers directly than through a platform. The question of whether or not the interviewees would be interested in changing to a platform that would centralize the data shared between investors and companies was quite more controversial and we got four participants interested in doing so (two companies and two investors) while the remaining ones didn't express interest. In the final part of the report we draft a minimum viable product along with some recommendations for Laga. In the minimum viable product chapter, we tackle the crucial features needed for such a platform to be appellative to the market (capitalization table management and scenario modelling) based on the answers received in the interviews and the market research. Although not defined with certainty, based on the meetings had with the developers, the features are to be integrated in an existing platform (Element) rather than developed as part of a brand-new tool. In the recommendations that follow, we give some major points for Laga to consider moving forward (reasons for and against launching the product, what to include in the final product - beyond the minimum viable product), along with some limitations that come from this report together with its research. Following this, we also draw some conclusions, not only applicable for Laga and the platform but also some retrospective in the entire research.
    • Product and customer cost analysis for a Belgian mat manufacturing company

      Vaneylen, Mathias; Lombana Rodriguez, Monica (2018)
      For a period of 8 weeks, the researchers examined the cost calculation of a Belgian manufacturing company. The company is a specialised producer of a wide range of entrance mats with a focus on providing high quality and service. The main challenge regarding its existing costing system is that it became too complex and was allocating overhead costs to different products and customers in the same way, which can impact the company by influencing inaccurate pricing policies. Therefore, the aim of this project was to deliver a new costing tool, built from scratch, that allocated overhead costs to the level of products (1 square meter of mat) and customers. It also needed to reduce the complexity where possible, compared to the existing tool. It should be easy to maintain and update as well in the future. After consulting papers including different options of costing systems and based on the courses received during the Masters in Financial Management, the researchers decided to go for the development of a time driven activity-based costing tool (TDABC). By observation, collecting information and conducting surveys and multiple interviews the data was obtained that formed the input for the new costing tool. In this respect, different steps were followed based on the literature review. First cost departments were formed. Subsequently, information regarding activities was obtained. Regarding white-collar employees this was done through surveys and follow-up interviews. As for the manufacturing departments, a process chart was developed along with estimations of timing per activity. This made the researchers able to calculate capacity cost rates. In the final stage, costs per product and customer were obtained in a model. As a result of the undertaking of aforementioned steps and frequent interaction with the management of the company and its key employees, a new costing tool was developed. This model contains a starting page, followed by two input sheets and a final output sheet. It can be seen as a user friendly, easy to update and intuitive tool. Costing models are however, always a work in progress. The model developed by the researchers can be a good basis for further development in the future of the company. The output sheet is a matrix with different products and their respective lines of costs. Direct materials, labour costs and overhead costs are shown. These columns are followed by a cost to serve section. With respect to the latter, different choices regarding types of customers and markets can be made to arrive at a final cost price. The model also has the option to include costs of capital in it by clicking on an enable button. The cost price results show that certain high-volume products are currently over costed, whereas other high-end products that are sold in lower volumes are being under costed. A main factor that has caused the new model to calculate those prices is the allocation of overhead costs. These group of costs were significantly reduced compared to the previous situation through the identification of activities. General overhead costs amounted to EUR 473,167, representing 21.26% of total identified costs with the exclusion of raw material costs (a turnover of EUR 4.5 million was realised in 2017). Products were allocated general overhead costs (costs without a link to departments, products or customers) via the use of weighted square meters (weights were determined based on product sophistication and complexity). Finally, costs to serve were analysed for three main markets per order. As such, a comparison could be made with historical selling prices available for those markets. This analysis showed that certain Belgian customers turned out to be more profitable than others. Dealers were the most profitable ones. On the other hand, lots of costs were allocated to orders for carpenters since they required relative high effort by the company to serve. The company's main client Storax also had a cost that was slightly higher than its current price. Although the cost to serve this customer is still relatively low, it still required some effort by the company (driving up costs). Furthermore, the researchers observed that the difference in marketing costs that were not allocated to this customer as opposed to other customers was not high enough to certify the high wedge in historical prices compared to Belgian customers. As a consequence, actions such as efforts to increase the number of orders regarding unprofitable customers or to make these more efficient are advised.
    • Optimizing BIM information flow from the engineers to the workers on the construction site

      Baetslé, Pierre; Cserkuthy Andras, Gabor (2018)
      The purpose of this consultancy report is to find different methods to streamline the information and communication flow of 'Building Information Modelling' (BIM) from the engineers to the workers on the field. After analysing a series of different sources on BIM such as self-conducted interviews, empirical observations, academic research and many specialised case studies, we developed an implementation roadmap with recommendations for an experimental pilot project setup. A smooth BIM execution on the field, starts with a good BIM preparation. Our endorsements focus on two stages: the preparation stage and the construction stage of a project. Our recommended actions are listed below: - The composition of crystal clear BIM related contracts and agreements: a summary to show the bigger picture, an overview of critical deadlines and decision moments, a map of ownership infographic, an explained BIM workflow for subcontractors and a structured BIM kick-off meeting roadmap. - Tailor-made trainings, coaching and reinforcement sessions for different positions such as project leaders, foremen, workers and subcontractors. The main goal is to establish the BIM mindset into their daily routine. - The instalment of the 'BIM Box' on the field that acts as a hub for discussion and problem-solving. The 'BIM Box' is a mobile desktop computer with 'Solibri', fixed inside a reinforced steel box stationed on a convenient place on the field. - The appointment of a BIM ambassador: a new player within the BIM value chain that operates as the missing link between BIM and the workers on the field. - A full time BIM coordinator on the construction site to facilitate BIM information and communication flow towards stakeholders such as the subcontractors. - The introduction of simple BIM specific task drawings to familiarise construction workers with BIM. - Some smaller recommendations for new 'Solibri' features to help visualise information and to create tailor-made reports. A mission statement formulated by top management is not enough for actual change to happen. BIM needs to have a strong connection with all the employees: willingness and acceptance must also come from the bottom-up as well. We believe our simple and easy to implement recommendations will accelerate the pavement of the highway to a successful digital transformation on the construction site.