Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Amazing Thailand! Amazing SMART!

This is the last day of SMART program, and is the day to show our product, also a day to say goodbye to the lovely people there.
We rehearsed one more time in the morning, Amanda and other teachers gave us some valuable feedback. The presentation started at 2:30, the presenters did a good job. Even others who were not responsible for presenting, they also pay attention the whole time to answer questions. It was really successful, CDIP spoke highly of our work. After the presentation, the Cornell team interviewed Mr. Daengprasert, we learned a lot from his experience as a owner of several companies.
All of us had a dinner together. There were no students, teachers, managers or foreigners, only FRIENDS. 14 days is short, but is long enough to finish a project, make new friends and fall in love with a country and its culture. People were talking about everything, the program, the trip we had, the jokes we made, the future, the reunion. All good things come to an end. Smile up, tears down. Goodbye dear friends, Goodbye Thailand, wish you all the best! 

Monday, January 18, 2016

First run of our presentation- done!

Today we demonstrated Prof. Christy our hard work during these past weeks. As a team, we woke up early to edit last-minute details and practice the presentation, then we greeted Prof. Christy and introduced him with the Thai students that are working with us. Even though the presentation had a lot more work to be done, we reflected our hard work. All the professors had comments on our presentation and we answered some of the loopholes not covered. We had an amazing lunch all of us at the university, and then we went back to work to improve the presentation and disseminate tasks to have it done tomorrow, and be ready to present it to CDIP on Wednesday. After another successful and productive day, we went to town to have dinner, several Thai students joined us and of course Prof. Christy did too. As our time to go back approaches, we are starting to feel a little nostalgic, we have developed a very nice friendship with the Thai students who have been very fun and caring. Overall,  we have all learned so much (personally and professionally) from this program, and we are looking forward for the final presentation on Wednesday while still giving more than our 100% everyday in order to make the most of this.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Weekend Shenanigans

Hi all,

This is the team's second and last weekend in Bangkok. Unfortunately, we realized earlier in the week that we were not going to finish the work we needed by Monday. The decision was made that we had to work on Saturday so we can get our deliverable ready and go sightseeing in Bangkok as a team.

On Saturday, we got a late start and split into 5 teams of 2 to work on SWOT analysis, TOWS matrix and 4Ps framework of our respective markets. The hope for the day was that we would be able to construct slides for everything we have finished and have a coherent powerpoint presentation that includes everything but a final financial analysis for the markets. The teams quickly got to work. We also got a special lunch today, KFC chicken sandwich, drumstick and mashed potatoes. Since some members of the team were not huge fans of meat or fried food, I personally got to have two lunches--win!

When the school building had to shut down at 4:00PM, we were not exactly finished with the presentation. Most teams set up posts at Starbucks to continue working. Since food is extremely important in Thai culture, we ended up going to the night market with our Thai friends to get dinner before "working" some more. The working session officially concluded when some members of the team convinced others that it was time to have some fun on the last weekend night we had in Bangkok.

What is more farang nightlife in Bangkok than Khao San Road?? Since we have not yet been to this infamous nightlife spot in Bangkok, we decided it was finally time to pay a pilgrimage. Khao San Road certainly did not disappoint. Before everything became a blur, I did try a fried scorpion on a stick. I must admit that it was much better than I anticipated. I would try again in the future.

As the clock strikes 3AM, we decide it was time to call it a night, especially since the plan was to get up by 8 to sightsee in town. As any planner knows, things never quite go according to plan. We made it to the train station by 10AM and to Grand Palace by 11:30AM. It was a sweltering day in Bangkok but it felt awesome to finally spend sometime in Old Town Bangkok and see what was once the residence of the King. Admissions to Grand Palace also included entrance to Wat Phra Kaew, or Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We had lunch at the food court of Siam Paragon, one of the most luxurious malls in downtown Bangkok that might put famous shopping malls such as South Coast Plaza to shame. After a quick nap in the afternoon, we met up with Prof. Ralph Christy, Director of CIIFAD for a dinner at a traditional Thai restaurant before heading back to the hotel to finally finish the presentation at 1AM.

See you all tomorrow!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Working Friday

Since we have the first presentation next Monday, today turned out to be a hard working Friday. We had done the SWOT analysis, so this time, we started with the TOWs and followed with 4 P's (Product, Price, Place, Promotion) for each team. The format for presentations was ready there and we started to filling stuff in. No one stop working until the building was closed. Even everyone is exhausted, but we all excited seeing product of labor coming out. Go SMART team!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

On the farm

Finally, we got to see where the crocodile oil we have heard so much about comes from. We visited the Sriracha Crocodile Farm – yes, based in the town that is the namesake of everyone’s favorite hot sauce. After being introduced to the company in their conference room, we went outside and saw the operations. Members of Sriracha brought us to see where the crocodiles are kept, where they are slaughtered, and where they are skinned. Afterwards, we were shown the store that sells finished crocodile products – I tried on more crocodile leather than I ever thought I would in my life.

In the afternoon, we were given the opportunity to interview an expert on the Asian cosmetic industry. He provided us with much valuable insight into the industry, and what we should expect while introducing crocodile oil into the market. The guidance he provided left us all very excited to continue working on the project.

And what would a day in Thailand be without food! For lunch, we stopped at a small market. We tried this amazing desert made of coconut, flour, and sugar, that is then smoked in banana leaves. For dinner, our team and some friends went to a noddle restaurant. The seven of us at 35 bowls of soup! Now, I’m going to bed and looking forward to another fun and food filled day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday Food Chronicle and Other Things

Firstly, I wanted to comment on a cultural phenomenon the team has witnessed so far in Bangkok. The Thai students we have been working with seem to eat a lot, and very frequently. Yet they remain slim and in shape without working out much. This has become the the envy of all Americans on the trip. Today was the first day that I truly felt Thai in my eating habits. The following is a chronicle.

10:00: two banana bread muffins
12:00: 1 lunch set with rice, boiled chicken, and spicy sauce; 3/4 of a lunch set with pork, vegetables and sweet and sour sauce
1:00: 1st Thai iced tea with milk, or Chai Nom Yin
4:00: 1 leftover lunch set with spicy fried chicken, rice and vegetables
8:00: Hoi Tod, or seafood pancake;
8:30: 2nd Thai iced tea with milk
9:00: 3rd Thai iced tea with milk
11:30: Pad See Ew with Beef

Hoi Tod seen on many streets.
Source: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3705/13751044145_efaa461234_h.jpg
From my observations, this might actually be on par with what Thai people eat on a daily basis. After about half a month in Thailand, my eating habits seem to have become "Thai-ified." Let's hope my metabolism has also increased a few times.

Going back to the progress the team has made on our project. Today, we started the day by reviewing the roadmap for our progress and decided that we will need to conduct a SWOT analysis, along with market segmentation in order to determine the 4P's (Place, Promotion, Product, Price) needed for launching crocodile oil products in the markets we have identified the previous day. Cornell students once again teamed up with Thai students in groups of 2 and started working. At the end of the day, after a bit of miscommunication and confusion, most groups are well on our way and are almost done with the SWOT and market segmentation. In addition, the whole team got together to prepare questions for an interview we will conduct tomorrow with Dr. Veerawat Teeranachaideekul, a professor who previously worked for an OEM company and is well versed in cosmetics marketing.

At the end of the day, we are excited for our excursion to the crocodile farm tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Productive Tuesday

As the hectic morning began, we focused on developing the criteria and the goals for our final project. Today's goal was to have everybody on the same page regardless of what country and what category (raw or finished good) we were working on. We developed a spreadsheet to understand the best potential countries for introducing each of the products (raw vs. finish). We analyzed also two more countries- Indonesia and Philippines since we understood these two countries are very lucrative in the skin care/cosmetic industry, according to data and emphasized by NAMU Life's CEO in our interview. The spreadsheet also included information on the ease to enter the market according to laws/regulations, current competitors and suppliers, demographic information, current and growth rate in the industry, and cosmetic trends in each market. After understanding the pros and cons of these 6 countries by analyzing the spreadsheet we developed, while focusing on their potential either for raw or finished good, we narrowed our research to the following countries for our presentation next Monday- Raw material: China, Thailand, S. Korea; Finish: Thailand, China. By the end of the day we created an agenda for the next days, and we agreed on having a SWOT and Porter's 5 analysis by the end of the week. After a long day of work and discussion, we celebrated Charley's birthday!