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Cold Call

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Cold Call

HBR Presents / Brian Kenny

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Cold Call distills Harvard Business School's legendary case studies into podcast form. Hosted by Brian Kenny, the podcast airs every two weeks and features Harvard Business School faculty discussing cases they've written and the lessons they impart.
 
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show series
 
Esusu launched in 2018 with a rotational savings product and continued growing their fintech startup in late 2019 with Esusu Rent, a rent reporting tool that enables renters to improve their credit scores. In March 2020, co-founders Abbey Wemimo and Samir Goel were working to determine how best to scale Esusu to advance their mission of promoting f…
 
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing and widespread protests for social justice in the United States, OneTen was formed by a coalition of 40 large companies to address the disparity in job opportunities for African-Americans without four-year college degrees. Their goal was to provide one million jobs in 10 years. But in order to do that, OneTen h…
 
Corruption is as old as humanity, with cases documented as far back as the Egyptian dynasties. While the World Bank estimates that international bribery exceeds $1.5 trillion annually, the larger and more subtle effects of corruption on economies and populations is incalculable. Harvard Business School professors Geoff Jones and Tarun Khanna explor…
 
THE YES, a shopping app for fashion brands, uses a sophisticated algorithm to create and deliver a personalized store for every shopper, based on her style preferences, size, and budget. After launching the app in 2020, the founders must decide whether to continue developing the algorithm to deliver on the company’s customer value proposition or to…
 
Community Solutions is a nonprofit founded in 2011 by Rosanne Haggerty, with the ambitious goal of ending chronic homelessness in America. Its “Built for Zero” methodology takes a public health approach, helping communities across the U.S. use better data collection and outreach to improve government processes and piecemeal solutions. In 2021, Comm…
 
From 1997 to 2012, Scott Tucker built a nationwide network of payday lending businesses, becoming a pioneer in online lending along the way. Many of his borrowers could not access credit from commercial banks and depended on payday loans as a financial lifeline to cope with emergency expenses. But in 2012 federal prosecutors indicted Tucker on seve…
 
Pixel, started in 2014, helps facilitate open talent and crowdsourcing for Deloitte Consulting client engagements, to access specific expertise, collaborate to develop new products and insights, and to design, build, and test new digital assets. But while some of Deloitte’s principals are avid users of Pixel’s services, uptake across the organizati…
 
Etsy, the online seller of handmade goods, was founded in 2005 as an alternative to companies that sold mass-manufactured products. The company grew substantially but remained unprofitable under the leadership of two early CEOs. Ten years later, Etsy went public and was forced into a new arena, where it was beholden to stakeholders who demanded fin…
 
The France Telecom case series follows the evolution of the organization from a national telephone monopoly to a private company facing severe challenges. These included a lessening competitive advantage, with the advent of mobile carriers and competition from other countries, as well as a workforce that was much larger than needed and included man…
 
AptDeco, a peer-to-peer marketplace for used furniture in the New York City area, was growing rapidly in the massive $120 billion furniture market, despite its complexity and high costs. Co-founders Reham Fagiri and Kalam Dennis were considering different options to scale the business, including converting sellers into buyers and vice versa, findin…
 
In May of 2021, Kevin D. Johnson had just graduated from a rigorous Executive MBA program, and he needed to decide on his next career move. Johnson was the founder and CEO of a successful media company, but his career goals had shifted during business school. He wanted to use his talents to help other Black entrepreneurs access capital and provide …
 
After more than 20 years in the media industry in the UK and Nigeria, EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu is considering several strategic changes for her media company’s future. Will her mission to tell authentic African stories to the world be advanced by distributing films and TV shows direct to customers? Or should EbonyLife instead distribute its con…
 
In 2018, Linda Oubré was selected as the president of Whittier College in Los Angeles County – the first Black woman to serve in that role. The student body had been slowly evolving to represent the growing diversity of the surrounding area, but the college’s leadership remained largely white and male. Oubré set her sights on diversifying the colle…
 
In 2021, the footwear startup Allbirds was extending its product range into apparel and expanding beyond its online store to open more retail stores around the world. It was also freely sharing its know-how and material innovations with its competitors to try to scale its efforts to decarbonize fashion, by substituting natural materials for convent…
 
In 2017, Shield AI’s quadcopter, with no pilot and no flight plan, could clear a building and outpace human warfighters by almost five minutes. It was evidence that autonomous robots could help protect civilian and service member lives. But was it also evidence that Shield AI—a startup barely two years past founding—could ask their newest potential…
 
Recruit Holdings, an advertising media, staffing, and business support conglomerate was founded in Japan in 1960 by Hiromasa Ezoe. The company was built on the principle that the company should add value to society. But in 1988, Recruit hit rough waters when Ezoe sold 2.8 million shares in a subsidiary before it went public to 76 Japanese leaders i…
 
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, was launched in 2012 around the simple idea of helping users entertain themselves on their smartphones while on the Beijing Subway. By May 2020, TikTok operated in 155 countries and, together with Douyin (its China app), it had roughly one billion monthly active users, placing it in the top ranks of digital platf…
 
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