By Arial Starks
The 3-week Accelerator®—Summer Business Immersion certificate program at Vanderbilt Business provides an opportunity for college students and recent graduates to get real-world consulting experience through projects. For one of the projects this year, students presented rebranding strategies for automobile manufacturer Nissan.
The client: Nissan is a multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Nishi-ku, Yokohama, Japan. Originally making its debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1933, Nissan has since expanded outside of Japan, coming to the U.S. in 1958 under the name “Datsun.”
The Project: Teams were tasked with creating mobile applications for Nissan with the goal of linking customer car use to the new app. The point of creating the application was to create a stronger digital relationship between Nissan and its customers, while allowing the company to gain insight into its customers’ mobility journey. Nissan gave the teams creative freedom to create whatever type of app they wanted with some guidelines – the app cannot cost more than $250,000 and must be able to be developed and testable within 6 – 12 months.
The Presentations: Teams had 10 minutes to pitch their ideas to members of the Nissan marketing team, including Josh Westerhold, Senior Manager, Mobility. Each team began their presentation with attention grabbers, from short skits to thought-provoking questions, to get the crowd engaged.
The students pitched apps featuring a variety of services, from tracking available parking to connecting to food delivery machines on a college campus. Some pitched their ideas using charts and graphs, while others utilized short videos. Across each presentation, teams incorporated their research and findings about Nissan customers, including age range and socioeconomic status, to create an app that captured and responded to their needs.
“Nissan was my favorite project, because we were able to solve problems of the future,” one student said.
“I loved the challenge of making the first step for a project that is supposed to shape the future,” another student noted. “I love thinking about the future, and having the opportunity to create our own idea to move Nissan towards the future was exciting.”
The winner: The Nissan team awarded first place to Team D, consisting of Lindsey Jennette, Delaney Weimer, Ethan Harmatz, Ajay Kolli, Taryn Pastore, Trung Nguyen, and Jon Moore following presentations from all 7 teams. Team D pitched the idea of creating an app that would allow Nissan customers to organize their day from start to finish. It would include things like a calendar and task list, while also keeping track of the customer’s traveling details like average mileage, all to make their day as efficient as possible.
The feedback: The Nissan Team was impressed with the Accelerator Class of 2022 . They posed questions to each project group and provided all of them with constructive feedback.
“Throughout the week, we had multiple opportunities to meet the students in Accelerator and had come to appreciate their clear talent and interest,” Westerhold said. “Even with that background, I don’t think we were fully prepared for the thoughtfulness, creativity, and clarity we observed during the presentations. We saw multiple ideas that we are already actively identifying ways to possibly implement.”
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