Microsoft Case Competition 2015

Bridging the Gap between Tech & Business


— The Microsoft Case Competition took place on March 14, 2015. This is a story of how it came about. —

These days, it is almost impossible to ignore the tech industry.

Startups, record valuations, futuristic Google projects, Tesla supercars… Look around, and you will appreciate how technologies have touched the lives of millions, reinventing businesses and shaping the future.

While Silicon Valley has become an extremely exciting and lucrative industry to be part of, what isn’t clear is how we could get ourselves involved with this ever more prevalent segment without becoming a software engineer or a computer scientist.

In business specifically, tech is becoming ever more integral to any successful enterprise. There is a growing urge for firms to adopt new technologies, or they run the risk of having their industries disrupted by startups and bold new business models. Take big data as an example. By incorporating new tools such as machine learning, businesses would be able to draw new insights and leverage them to make better informed decisions — putting them ahead of their competition.

The Microsoft Case Competition was born out of frustration, that there is barely any opportunities out there for business or non-technical majors to get involved with the industry. The goal of it was to introduce more students to the world of tech.

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn from data without being explicitly programmed.

The idea of a technology consulting case competition came about after a casual discussion with my long time partner in crime, Zain Hemani, who happens to be a Microsoft Student Partner. Zain has the job of promoting Windows Azure on campus. Together, we found the perfect recipe — a tech consulting case competition that gives students a basic understanding of cloud computing and data analytic techniques, and lets them create their own creative business solutions by incorporating Windows Azure.

Teams checking in at the Microsoft Case Competition.

So here it is. The Microsoft Case Competition — a place where some of the brightest minds in business are given the opportunity to leverage technology in solving industry problems, and to bring an outsider’s point of view on how Windows Azure can be incorporated to solve real world challenges. It was a resounding hit.

“The Microsoft Case Competition was created with the goal of enabling students from non-technical majors to get involved with the tech sector.”
Packed for the morning keynote!

On March 14th, 2015, more than 40 teams and over 180 contestants gathered together at Western University for the first annual Microsoft Case Competition. Participants were first given a talk on the fundamentals of Windows Azure cloud computing platform. Then within a 4 hour timeframe, they tackled a real life business challenge faced by our sponsor, Canadian Tire, by incorporating Azure as their case solution.

Students got to brush off their presentation skills while wielding the powerful data analytic solutions such as Windows Azure machine learning. It was very much like tech consulting — advising businesses on how to utilize technologies in a way to best meet their needs. Ultimately, we launched a day of intense competition which provided participants, no matter business majors or engineering students, the opportunity to learn about cloud computing technologies and apply that to solve a real life business challenge.

Coincidentally, the case competition also took place on Pie Day (3.14.2015). Our only regret? We didn’t have pies.

Announcing 1st Place — Kelly He, Laban Lin

While $800 in prize money has been won and the case competition has come to an end, this is only a snapshot of what Founders Network is going to bring to the community in the future.

Stay tuned.


2015 Microsoft Case Competition Winners

1st Place — Kelly He, Laban Lin

2nd Place — Jeet Chakrabarty, Alexander Li, Pallav Bhavsar, Veronica Pang

3rd Place — Shirley Tang, Joanna Fu, Cathy Chen, Bobbie Tzonev


Special thanks to Microsoft Canada for supporting the case competition, Canadian Tire at Masonville Place, London ON, for their generous sponsorship, and the judges who took their weekend off and joined us for the competition:

T.J. Machado, Senior Solutions Specialist, Microsoft

Sharon Bennett, Partner Technology Advisor, Microsoft

Juan Luis Suárez, Director of CulturePlex Lab, Western University

Blake Farquharson, Business Analyst, Tech Alliance

Erica Furgiuele, Business 2257 Faculty, Ivey Business School

Shannon Wright, Business 2257 Faculty, Ivey Business School


The Organizing Committee

Co-chairs: Justin Tang, Zain Hemani

Case Writing: Carly Armstrong, Josephine Au, Cindy Zhang

Sponsorship: Samantha Armstrong, Justin Ford

Marketing: Reid Vender, Christy Au-yeung, Aaron Leung

Operations: Abdul Khan, Alex Zarifoglu, Shehan Wijeyagoonewardane,

Mario Reckl, Fahim Ahmed


For more information, visit us at: www.foundersnetwork.ca