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HBA students help Shopify increase opportunities for entrepreneurs globally

Jan 12, 2022

Deloitte Innovation Forum winning team

The winning team with the judges.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the globalization of online retailers continues to be an essential and growing part of our economy. For the 7th annual Deloitte Innovation Forum, January 10-12, Ivey’s HBA students considered ways e-commerce giant Shopify could help its merchants to globalize. 

The challenge for HBA students was to develop ways that Shopify can make launching an online business more accessible and inclusive to individuals who speak English as their second language. 

The three-day event, sponsored by Deloitte, showcased the extraordinary talents of Ivey’s HBA1 students. The Deloitte Innovation Forum is one of the many events featured in Ivey’s Learning Through Action course. The students are challenged to work in teams to develop a creative business model and strategy and then pitch their ideas to judges. 

On your marks, get set, innovate!

To kick off the event, the students heard from Max Wessman, Senior Manager & Consultant at Deloitte, who shared three tips to get the teams started:

  1. Flip orthodoxies: Challenge conventional norms, beliefs, and habits to uncover potential opportunities;

  2. Think about the end-to-end experience: Take into consideration the 5Es of the consumer decision-making process; entice, enter, engage, exit, and extend; and,

  3. Lead with the user: Aim to bring a new product to market that aligns with the needs of customers through the context of innovation ideas. 

“Through this assignment, and through our consulting lives, it’s about bridging the gap of understanding. For organizations to uncover and deeply understand what behaviours they are not engaging with, and how we can serve them through the products and services that we develop,” Wessman said. 

Participating HBA student Chloe Macklin says the experience was a unique and eye-opening opportunity.

“The open-ended nature of the Deloitte Innovation Forum allowed our group to think critically about language barriers and entrepreneurship,” she said.

We collaborated with Deloitte and Ivey on this as the issue of equitable access to entrepreneurial opportunities is something that Shopify considers core to our mission. Having the opportunity to get a fresh perspective and some innovative ideas on how to close this gap, and ones similar to this, drove my decision to get involved. Additionally, sharing Shopify with this potentially new audience was also exciting. - Jennifer Bebb, Director of Specialized Support at Shopify

The future of business leaders

Kyle Maclean, HBA ’12, PhD ’17, an assistant professor of Management Science, and Colin McDougall, MBA ’06, a lecturer in Marketing, acted as faculty leads for the event.

Maclean said the event allows students to put all of their courses into a real-life context while working with a real-life client.

“We encourage students to be innovative with their presentations, and like in the real world, judges may interrupt their presentations. It is all done to better replicate the modern type of client presentations that students will be performing when they graduate,” he said.

McDougall called attention to the importance of inventiveness and communications. 

“We are looking for not only creative ideas but compelling ways to communicate your idea,” he said. 

Maclean said the experience is rewarding for both Ivey students and faculty. 

“You get to see how much students have developed their presentation and analysis skills over the first semester. It’s remarkable seeing the growth that occurs in just a couple of months,” he said. 

The winner’s circle

Congratulations to this year’s winning team, 

Section 6, Team 2

Aanya Bhatia

Maharshi Desai

Victoria Fedak

Francesca Johnson

Angela Mao

Jack Sable

Austin Teshuba

Cadan Woolstencroft

Thank you to our  judges

A special thank you to the Deloitte representatives who served as preliminary judges:

  • Ben Blium
  • Dayna Mailach
  • Hilary Crossley
  • John Shehan
  • Miah Kortekaas
  • Mikalya Purdy, HBA ’20 
  • Nash Escalada
  • Nicole Thompson, MSc ’20