NEW YORK – Indian American Amalya Boulajouahel, a business and engineering major with a finance concentration, along with Bianca Fernandes, a marketing and business analytics major, and Laura Sturzenegger, a marketing, finance and business analytics major, all seniors from the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University, have won the L’Oreal Brandstorm Case Competition this year, beating teams from Harvard and Berkeley.
At the competition sponsored by L’Oreal’s Professional Products Division, teams were charged with inventing “the Professional Salon Experience of the Future” and Boulajouahel’s team DragonFire’s product idea, titled “Connect,” utilized technology and big data, with data collection uniting salons, consumers and L’Oreal.
Boulajouahel notes that she and her team members all worked at SAP for co-op, and their backgrounds in technology and data analytics were an asset in the competition, according to press release from Drexel University.
The team was accepted into the competition a few weeks after they submitted their initial idea and a video in February.
They then spent two months honing their product in consultation with a L’Oreal employee.
“We’re on the right track. I think this can be completely implemented,” Sturzenegger said in a press release.
The three students met as members of Alpha Kappa Psi, the co-ed business fraternity, and have been friends since their freshman year and were team members last year for the 2017 L’Oreal competition.
“I believe it’s the things we’ve learned as brothers that gave us the confidence and skill to make it to this point in the case competition,” Fernandes said in a press release.
The team delivered its presentation in a round-robin format, pitching a rotating group of judges with a large clock ticking down the seconds, an experience Boulajouahel called “very intense, but very rewarding.”
After five times through the presentation, the Drexel team advanced to the competition’s finals where they competed with teams from Harvard University, the University of California Berkeley, the University of Southern California, New York University, North Carolina A&T, the University of Michigan, Northwestern University, the University of Texas and Penn State University.
“We received a lot of very good feedback. We want to incorporate different perspectives, like the social media aspect of the product, in order to make it even more accessible to everybody,” Boulajouahel said, adding “We’re very motivated. It’s amazing that we have made it this far.”
“This is the most dedicated and coachable team I’ve worked with. They were willing to work, to grow, to change and to put in the practice time,” said Stanley Ridgley, an associate clinical professor of management who served as the team’s advisor and mentor.
Boulajouahel’s team along with the team from Penn State will both represent the United States at the global competition which is to be held on May 17 in Paris, France.