Weatherhead Students Win Goodyear Innovation Challenge

Weatherhead Students Win Goodyear Innovation Challenge

Posted 12.1.17

After a two-day hackathon at Case Western Reserve University’s Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], where teams from Weatherhead School of Management and Simon Business School squared off to find solutions to Goodyear's latest challenge of shared mobility, Weatherhead students took home the top prize.

The winning team, which consisted of MBA students Rob Relief, Braden Storer, Kelsey Knutty and Nick Kuzma, won an interview slot at Goodyear for an internship position on the Global Innovation Team as well as a $5000 cash prize.

The team’s winning idea centered around a service that would help Uber and Lyft drivers easily maintenance their cars. “We started by identifying our target drivers and thinking about what drives them personally and professionally,” said Kuzma. “What are they trying to accomplish as a driver, and is this something they think they'll be doing long-term? Then how do we change the existing painful service system to a more enjoyable service system?”

After answering these questions, and actually taking Uber rides and talking with drivers, the team developed the Goodyear Experience Center, a maintenance center that leverages the driving data Uber and Lyft drivers already produce from being continually online.  “As a driver, you get a push notification on your phone that says something along the lines of, ‘hey, the tread on your tires is almost gone and you've driven x miles on your tires. Open the app to find the nearest Goodyear location with your tires in stock,’” explains Kuzma.

At the service center the driver would be treated to a full car work up, based on the data Goodyear had collected on number of miles you’ve driven, and a relaxing waiting area complete with coffee, WIFI and driving information and tips. “This center was a facility where people, specifically ride-sharing drivers, were able to come and get their car serviced with an enhanced experience,” said Knutty.

So their idea was set, but the next questions was profit. “From talking with drivers, if we asked about taking a percentage of their fares to pay for this, they were against it, but if we discussed charging them a couple cents per mile and all their car maintenance would be handled, then they were all for it,” says Kuzma. “So a driver would be charged a couple cents per mile, the rider would be charged a couple cents per mile, and this would eliminate the price pain point of paying for maintenance and tires.”

With their winning idea, complete with a prototype of the experience center, the team took home first place. “Our prototype was more than just a physical structure that we designed at Thinkbox,” says Relief. “We also utilized a panel judge to act out how a customer would experience our innovation.”

When he found out they’d won, Kuzma says he felt elated. “I have Christmas spending money!” he joked. “Seriously though, it felt great. We have a very well-rounded group with two accountants, statistics and engineering and to see the fruits of our labor culminate in the prize that we received, well, it feels pretty amazing. Additionally, Goodyear is a phenomenal company and I can't wait to visit their Innovation Center.”

The second place winners in the competition were also Weatherhead students. Navid Tavoli, Luiz Vieira, Faraz Ahmed and Hera Nasir focused on fleet owners as their persona. “We tried to provide solutions that would help them manage their operations by handling the fleet operations’ complexity using predictive analytics software [to provide information] on which vehicles needed tire replacement in advance,” says Tavoli. “We also provided mobile vehicle examination centers that are connected with the analytics tool I just mentioned, so the vehicles can go to that center and be checked and if needed, replace their tires.”

 Congratulations all! 


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