On the Case for Drizly: 2020 Case Competition Helps Solve a Real Problem

In September, Maggie Yan ’22 teamed up with Start@Shea co-chair Jenna Steichen ’21 and two other students to plan the Shea Center’s first-ever startup case competition. Steichen hatched the idea for it; Yan gave it wings when she hit upon a way to make it real.

“When we got together in September, we weren’t sure where we wanted to go,” said the finance and business analytics major. “We were trying to come up with a prompt and then it hit me to ask the Start@Shea network to help bring in a real case and turn that into our competition.”

It turned out Drizly co-founder and BC alum Justin Robinson ’11 had already sent a prompt for students to tackle for the on-demand alcohol delivery service. Innovating to solve a real versus hypothetical problem within an existing company was the launching point Yan, Steichen, Jing Tang ’21, and Jack McClelland ’22 were looking for.

“Most case competitions involve hypothetical scenarios and solutions,” Yan explained. “I wanted to be able to motivate student participation in our case competition. And from a marketing perspective, I wanted the students to find greater value in participating than it was for us to plan.”

110% Onboard

When they first flirted with the idea of getting a startup involved, Yan says the Start@Shea team never imagined Drizly would be “so on board, so enthusiastic, and so involved throughout the entire process.”

Working closely with Robinson and Sofia Papastamelos ’13, Drizly’s product manager, the Shea team kicked off the competition with a marketing promo on Instagram. To emphasize that the Shea case competition would present students with a real startup scenario, Robinson recorded himself presenting the prompt.

“Justin sent over two amazing videos,” said Yan. “Sofia even made time for us during a weekday to meet with students for a quick Q&A session and really helped us emphasize that we were indeed partnering with a company for Start@Shea’s case competition.”

After the success of the team’s initial meeting, they wondered if they could boost the value of participating even more by asking Drizly to give a first-round interview to the competition’s winners. “They were 110% on board,” said Yan.

Tangible Solutions

Yan sees being able to partner with a real startup as a true differentiator for the Shea Center’s new program.

“It’s different from what’s usually out there, because the solutions needed to be tangible and have the potential to be incorporated into Drizly’s growth plans,” she said. “Drizly not only agreed to provide us with a real case but stayed heavily involved every step of the way.”

Yan says the competition created tremendous real-world value for the students who participated. “They were essentially consultants presenting their solutions to help catapult Drizly’s growth,” she said. “You just don’t find that kind of unique experience in any other case competition.”

Six teams of two to three students took part in the competition. Yan said the students provided solutions for Drizly’s case prompt from six different angles.

“We had a great experience working with the Start@Shea team this semester for the first Shea Center case competition,” said Robinson. “I was impressed with the students’ creativity, professionalism, and enthusiasm for problem solving. The student teams presented in-depth analyses covering the opportunity highlights, considerations, and recommendations that were really helpful as we consider our next steps. We were blown away by the quality of the work these BC undergrads put out there. We really appreciate the time the Start@Shea team and the student teams put into the competition.”

Winning Solution

Finalists in the case competition met with the Drizly judges via Zoom. The winning solution came from Naseem Haj Dashmane ’23 and Peter Maris ’23, both sophomores and Morrissey College and Carroll School students, respectively. The team snagged a $500 prize and a first-round interview with Drizly.

Looking ahead, Yan says the vision for the competition is to continue to partner with startups like Drizly each year. “I want students to gain quality exposure and resume-worthy experience and startups to find value and talent from Boston College students and the solutions they come up with,” she said.

The broader goal, Yan said, is to continue to help grow startups “and emphasize the value of an entrepreneurial mindset.”

Yan said the Start@Shea team is also looking into providing academic credit. “Since the Carroll School of Management already has a course that teaches students how to participate in case competitions, we hope we can have students participate in our case competition as field experience.”

Meet the teams and learn what the Drizly judges liked about the top three presentations. Watch the video on our YouTube channel.