Private: FLEXXBOTICS Global Expansion Decision
Tyler Bouchard (MBA), Tia Finn (MBA, MSI), Elisha Puri (MSTE), Wenjun Zhang (MBA)
Title: Flexxbotics Expansion to EU Markets
Subject area: Cobot market, Manufacturing, Automation
Region: Europe (Germany and France)
Industry: Collaborative Robotic Market
Client: Co-founders of Flexxbotics
Dilemma: In late August of 2020, co-founders of the Boston-based start-up company Flexxbotics, faced the challenge of how best to broaden their company’s business scope and expand market share in the industry. Flexxbotics had been in business for three years, designing and selling hardware/software solutions that optimized Universal Robot’s collaborative robots for manufacturing consumers via distribution channels in the United States and Canada. The stakes of making a right decision were high, and, if the problem was not solved soon, the company might suffer profit decrease, increasing competition, or loss of market share. Potential investors were looking for an aggressive growth plan if they planned to invest in Flexxbotics and accessing the EU’s market share seemed like a viable way to attain that growth. A decision had to be made before the end of the year to enable the co-founders to develop a detailed 2021 strategic plan and achieve the growth projections sought by investors.
Investment to Personal Capital:
The “Flexxbotics Global Expansion” consulting case was conducted by a team of graduate students focused on global expansion strategy in Engineering and IT related industries. The team consisted of the following professionals: Tyler Bouchard (MBA and BS in Mechanical Engineering), Tia Finn (MBA, MS in Innovation, BBA in Accounting and BA in Psychology), Elisha Puri (MS Technological Entrepreneurship, BA in Economics and BS in Mathematics) and Wenjun Zhang (MBA).
Flexxbotics is a Boston-based solution-provider start-up for collaborative robotics (Engineering & IT) that Tyler, Tia, Elisha, and Wenjun are very much interested in.
- Tyler: The company project was extremely relevant and beneficial to my own career. I was able to focus on my own startup and look at everything in a completely different light. My startup is my number one hobby and passion. I spend most days trying to grow the startup and developing skills relevant to entrepreneurship. I am looking to go full time with our startup beginning of next year. Developing an international strategy plan was vital in our efforts to raise outside capital.
- Tia: In the context of my interest in entrepreneurship, technology, and innovation, I was energized by the opportunity to research an emerging industry and discover how recent technological innovations are re-shaping manufacturing sectors worldwide. The opportunity to analyse the challenge of international expansion and play an integral role in strategy development with the key decision makers was a growth opportunity that I could not pass up.
- Elisha: Working on this project was very rewarding. Not only was this project a perfect mesh of all my interests – technological advancements, global expansion, strategy and entrepreneurship – it feels incredible knowing that our research and efforts helped our friend Tyler discern the best strategy for his company given the current state of things at his firm and the present-day environment in his desired international target markets. Exposure to an excellent algorithmic process of discerning the best strategies for international expansion will be an indispensable tool for me to use throughout my career.
- Wenjun: With a background in tech/engineering and interest in business/commercialization of a technology, I was really interested in working on this project to learn about the challenges tech start-up companies face when deciding about global expansion.
Investment to Social Capital:
Our main connection with the company was one of our teammates, Tyler. He is the co-founder of the company, and has provided many of the internal details. We also talked to the other founder – Tyler Modelski, who was also very excited about this project. Tia became so into the cobot industry and has been listening to the related Podcast every chance she got. As a team, we wanted to fully evaluate the expansion option to EU markets, especially Germany and France by comparing the pros and cons, and by analyzing in detail where the company’s strengths and weaknesses lie and can match with the target market’s opportunities and avoid the threats in that market. Our international project team worked well together, taking advantage of each other’s different backgrounds, competencies, cultures, and expertise.
Investment to Professional Capital:
In the investigation into the German, French, and US markets for collaborative robotic components the team collected data on the current market size, growth potential and competitive forces for each market. The team applied the PESTLE macro analysis framework to discover opportunities for the company in each of the three markets. The team utilized the VRIO framework to analyze the company’s internal strengths and determine if any distinctive competencies exist within the three markets. SWOT tables were then used to analyze the relationship between the data derived from the external analysis and the internal company analysis to make a final recommendation. In the consulting stage of the project, the team applied a mix of International Business and Strategic Management frameworks to conduct a comparative analysis of the options under consideration. The findings were presented in a case narrative titled “Flexxbotics Global Expantion,” which the company plans for their strategic international expansion plan.
- Tyler said: I plan to use what I learned from our recommendations and experience for our strategic international expansion plan. I was so invested in our own project that I was able to fully understand the problem, international landscape and our own capabilities to believe in the recommendation we provided.
- Tia: Going forward, I will be able to confidently approach complex business challenges with a strategic mindset. I now have experience with a set of frameworks that will enable me to perform a thorough analysis of any situation and effectively communicate my recommendations to key stakeholders.
- Elisha: Having gone through a process that systematically puts various options and potential strategic routes under consideration in a perspective and a format that is easily comprehensible will allow me to confidently approach complex problems and break them down for a wider business audience. This will allow for better decision-making and superior outcomes. I am currently in the process of expanding my small company outside of its geographical niche market. I plan to follow the steps and the methodology learnt in this class to compare and determine new areas for market expansion.
- Wenjun: I plan to use this experience, particularly in the frameworks (PESTEL, SWOT analysis, Porter’s 5 Forces), to help guide the global expansion decision-making when such opportunity appears, whether in my own career or consulting for others.
“I tend to agree with the recommendation (It aligns with my interview). I like the SWOT analysis. They are in-depth and informative. Allows me to make a much more informed decision.“