This was a business assignment they were not ready for. Told to sell vegetables at a wholesale market in Lucknow,12 students from the countrys top business schools found themselves quite at sea. And giving up was not an option the title of Next CEO,with a prize of Rs 1.5 lakh hung in balance.
No matter where they were from the IIMs Lucknow,Kolkata,Kozhikode or Indore or private institutes like XLRIs and MDIs,the assignment stretched their skills to the last stitch.
We learnt that the customers are biased,sensitive opportunists. We cannot hike prices by even a rupee as they visit at least five shops before making a purchase, said Harsha Vardhan,second year student from IIM Calcutta. Moreover,this is a wholesale market and everyone is selling the same thing. It is real tricky to convince customers to buy from you, he added.
The students were divided into four groups,each was given Rs 2,000 to purchase vegetables,along with space,to sell it at a profit.
The margins are so small it is difficult to make a profit, said Prasana,one of the students. Business was slow,but the veggie sellers themselves were quite a crowd puller. Some came to watch,others just gave them a tough time.
Selling vegetables and earning profits was just one of the steps the students had to cross. There were more tasks to test their managerial skills. And they managed to handle it,even sharing coke and chips with the regular vendors to pick up a tip or two.
The event was a part of Manfest-2009,a business conclave being held at IIM,Lucknow. The winner would be announced on Sunday.