A group of Red Deer College students have proven they can produce and sell bicycles with the best — at least on a computer screen.
Rylie Schaefer, Jordan Collier, Sam Debree, Mike Dobrowolski and Ryan Dahmer outpaced most of their international competition in a simulated business ventur The RDC group bested entrants from Boston University, Santa Clara University, Ohio State University and the University of Waterloo, among other universities and colleges.
In fact, 87 teams took part in the 2014 MikesBikes World Championship — an annual competition organized by Smartsims International Ltd. — with those 87 representing the top finishers from their respective institutions. Schaefer, Collier, Debree, Dobrowolski and Dahmer, who adopted the name Team Momentum, bested five groups of classmates from RDC’s Donald School of Business to advance to the world championships.
“I was really impressed,” said Dustin Quirk, an instructor at the Donald School of Business.
He said the five were among the best he’s seen in the MikesBikes simulation, which is tackled by all students in the Donald School of Business’s business administration diploma program as part of their class work. Team Momentum excelled from the start and “adapted and adjusted” to each level of competition they faced.
Ultimately, that came down to a showdown involving eight teams. Collier said his group received regular updates during those finals, which indicted that they were holding onto second place before slipping back into fourth.
“So we got together, a few of us, and really ground it out and got back to second.”
The MikesBikes simulation involves the operation of a bicycle factory in a competitive market with other bike producers.
“They have to design which markets to enter and build up their labour force, build up their factory,” said Quirk, adding that the success of the business is influenced by the actions of other teams.
For instance, pricing bikes high to boost revenues could leave a team vulnerable to being undercut by others.
“In that sense, it does do a fairly good representation of a real business situation where you’re planning out moves but have to respond and react to your competitors’ moves as well.”
Schaefer said Team Momentum picked up on the game quickly, and used the same strategy at each level.
“I would say we were pretty aggressive in our strategy,” said Dobrowolski. “Our goal was to outsell the competition and to constantly streamline our costs to be more profitable and deliver more value to our shareholders.”
Quirk said it helped that the RDC group worked very well together. He also praised their commitment, particularly when the competition moved past the classroom level.
“It was purely voluntary on their part, and they spent their own time,” he said, noting that this meant personal sacrifices and dealing with conflicting commitments, like studying for exams.
Schaefer, Collier, Debree, Dobrowolski and Dahmer are in the second year of the diploma program, and all five plan to pursue business degrees.