LUMS Team Makes it to the Global Finale of BAT’s Battle of Minds
From dealing with internet issues to a team member having to leave, from fighting COVID-19 to dealing with a hacker demanding USD 1,000, to building a web portal and mobile application in one night, an enterprising team of LUMS students beat all odds to win the British American Tobacco (BAT) Global Battle of Minds competition.
The National Winners of the prestigious competition, the LUMS team includes MBA 2022 students, Fahad Mahmood, Abdullah Aslam and Raffay Mahmood. The competition required students to present a business idea that addresses waste management. Out of 71 teams from Pakistan, only 3 teams went through to the Local Finale. The LUMS team, Team Batsmen, has also made it to the Global Finale which is going to take place on November 2, 2021. “In the Global Finale we will be competing with 28 countries including Israel, Russia, Germany, China, India, and USA. Currently, I am being mentored by the directors of Pakistan Tobacco Company to make an elevator pitch to the Managing Directors of British American Tobacco,” shared Fahad.
Fahad’s business idea is a waste management solution using digital platforms. The team plans on collecting segregated waste from households by giving them incentives in terms of points which can be redeemed at the integrated marketplace on their web portal. “This business will help reduce carbon footprint, educate people about the adversity of climate change, and help generate employment for 5,000 people in two years. Besides climate change mitigation, waste recycling is unfortunately the most untapped and unexplored industry in our country with a huge potential of adding millions of dollars to our economy annually. These factors made us realise the huge gap in the market,” added Fahad.
Sharing his journey of preparing for the Battle of Minds competition, Fahad spoke about the diverse challenges the team faced. “It was tough. I remember I was in Jhimpir, a remote area around 3 hours away from Karachi, for a field visit which was literally in the jungle, when I finalised my presentation and submitted it. One of the team members got recruited by Samsung and left the team. My other team member’s entire family got COVID-19 so he had to leave as well. This all happened right before the Semi Final round. I somehow got them both on board and asked them to present with me. Thankfully they both agreed. Two days later, we got to know that we made it to the Local Finale.”
The twist in the story came when the day before the deadline to submit supporting documents. A computer virus caused the team’s hard work to become encrypted. “The hacker asked us for USD 1,000 in bitcoins. But we didn’t pay him; Raffay rose to the challenge and rebuilt our entire application in one night! Overall, it was a rollercoaster ride, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.”
Fahad recalls that he was humbled and thrilled to have won the Nationals of the competition. “I have been working on this idea for the past four years. Our team is the perfect mix: Abdullah is an engineer, Raffay is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and software guy and I, having experience of running my own business in the past, am good at doing research and communication. Besides that, we as a team stayed resilient, positive, and focused throughout. We were always willing to go the extra mile.”
For the final round in November, Fahad and his teammates are tweaking their idea by consulting LUMS instructors who are pioneers in their fields. “We have a lot of guest speaker sessions in our MBA programme. So after the sessions, we rush to the guest speakers to pick their brains.”
Fahad believes that LUMS has prepared him for this achievement. He explains, “Cases that we studied in various courses at MBA became reference points while establishing our financial and operational models. I have immense respect for my instructors at LUMS because they have literally taught us the philosophy of subjects at a deeper level. We quote our instructors to build our cases for any argument!”
“The instructors themselves are very understanding, appreciative and welcoming when it comes to giving us consultation. A few of my friends at LUMS helped me a lot as well with our presentations and with logistics while we were presenting. And many others were there to celebrate our win with us,” added Fahad.
Fahad and his team are focused on winning the Global Finals and bringing the trophy back home. But for the future, he plans on implementing this idea to making an impact in Pakistan. LUMS wishes Fahad and his team the best of luck!