2016-1 Winners

The Winner Selection Process

A total of 4,239 MBA students, undergraduate business students, and non-student contestants from 110 universities in 40 countries on all 6 continents took enrolled in the 2016-1 round of the X-Culture competition. Of those, 3,738 passed the Readiness Test and successfully completed the project, the vast majority competing in global virtual teams, about a hundred people competing in collocated teams, and a few dozen people competing individually.

A total of 725 reports were submitted in the 2016-1 round of the X-Culture competition.

The reports were sent out for evaluation to a large group of International Business experts, mainly International Business professors from around the world (135 people from 40 countries).  Each report was independently evaluated by 4 to 7 experts along multiple dimensions, such as report creativity, clarity, viability of the ideas, style,  as well as evaluation of each report section. The experts also provided qualitative feedback.

Based on the expert evaluations, 10 best reports (complete list below) with nearly perfect scores were selected and sent for additional evaluation to the X-Culture International Award Committee comprised of 10 International Business experts representing 8 different countries. They re-read each of the 10 finalist reports one more time and provided their recommendations as to the winners.

Based on these 10 additional sets of evaluations, 3 reports received an equal number of nominations for the Award.

To select one best report, we (1) posted all three reports on the X-Culture’s page and asked the “crowd” to provide their evaluation of the reports; (2) asked the client companies to provide their feedback, and (3) reviewed the super-finalist reports one more time at X-Culture’s central office.

The “crowd” evaluations provided useful insights into the relative quality of the reports, although a number of votes had to be disqualified. First, some of the nominations lacked a clear explanation of why a particular report was nominated and it was not clear if the person even read the report. Second, many nominations came from friends of the finalist team members (thank you for acknowledging that, Raters). Due to a possible conflict of interest these nominations were taken very cautiously. Notably, many nominations were substantiated by strong compelling arguments and were taken into account. The information provided in all supporting arguments was carefully evaluated against the content of the reports in question.

The feedback from the client companies was limited in the sense that each of the three super finalists reports were written for different clients, so a direct comparison was impossible. However, based on the client feedback with respect to the strengths and weakness of the reports allowed us to compare them on how valuable they were perceived by their respective clients.

Based on all this information, reports from Teams 57 (early track) and 316 (late track) emerged as clear leaders, receiving greater support from all groups of appraisers (experts, clients, crowd, award committee).

Finally, we re-read one more time the super-finalist reports here at the X-Culture’s central office, comparing them section by section, and cross-referencing our impressions against the feedback and scores originally provided by the 6 experts (each was originally evaluated by 6 experts), then 10 member of the Award Committee, then the many comments provided by the crowds, and then the feedback provided by the clients.

Below is a summary of the consolidated feedback and a comparative analysis of the key points provided by the representatives of all appraiser groups on the reports by Teams 57 and 316. 

  • (tie) Formatting, style, clarity: Both reports are professionally formatted and clearly written. However, 57 has some problems with the referencing style. Also, both reports suffer from poor quality of some external-source charts and figures. Overall, the differences are minimal. It’s a tie.
  • (tie) Executive Summary: 57’s choice to use the bullet list makes navigating their executive summary easier, but as far as the content, both reports provide a good executive summary. Both are “just good” (not excellent) though because their executive summaries are more of tables of contents, rather than a summary of key findings. The summaries tell what the report is about, but not what the main recommendations are. Overall, it’s a tie.
  • (316) Company analysis: 316 provides a somewhat stronger review of the client’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. 57 does a decent job, but lacks originality, instead citing already known SWOT as per the company owner’s own account. Adding a review of competition makes the 316’s company analysis section stronger. Overall, 57 is very strong and better than 99% of the submissions we’ve seen, but 316 is even stronger.
  • (316) Market success criteria: Both are very strong, but 316 used a better, more company-relevant success criteria. 57’s choice of ease of doing business, economy, politics is too general. Relevance of climate is not clear. Culture (indulgence) is improperly referenced (it’s not Hofstede 2001, it’s his later work). 316 uses a stronger and more objective method. The factors are more product-related, other than income and wealth distribution that are a bit too general, not company specific. Both are good, but 316 is slightly better.
  • (316) Choice of the market: Both selected good markets and provided very strong supporting arguments overall. Both, however, suffer from providing some irrelevant information in the market analysis section, such as geography, legal system, or basic economic development information. It is not clear how this information is critical for developing a successful market entry strategy. However, both also provide some clearly relevant reviews, such as chocolate consumption (57) or education system overview (316). 316 is a bit stronger due to their clever point system that guided the selection of the best market. 316 is slightly better.
  • (316) Market: 57 did a good job, particularly providing a list with details and contacts of suggested distributors. Adding a few tips for distribution contracts was a clever move, too. However, 316 provided a much better review of viable options (licensing, franchising, exporting), explaining pros and cons of each, before selecting the best option. Also 316 provided a deeper analysis of the exporting types and options and a strong analysis of intermediaries, and as 57, 316 also provided leads to real possible qualified individual and company distributors and retailers. Overall 316 was much stronger at this section.
  • (tie) Pricing: Both did a good job, though 57 was stronger at cost analysis, whereas 316 impressed with their multi-method price determination. Both teams failed at analyzing competition prices, which is a big minus. There were, in fact, several submissions among other finalists, as well as among non-finalist teams that had even stronger Pricing sections, partly thank to their impressive reviews of the competitor’s prices, and also a list of clever pricing techniques that stimulate sales and long-term relationships with the clients.
  • (tie) Marketing: Both did a good job, provided many interesting details and leads. 57 was more “predictable” – no obvious problems, but also no outstanding, creative ideas. 316 was a bit more practical, providing a list of fairs and trade shows (with details on the cost) where the client can promote its products was very helpful. Although 316 did a better job,  the cost of the 316’s campaign was unrealistically high for the client, greatly reducing the value of the marketing strategy to the client. With all factors taken into account, it is a tie.
  • (316) Regulations/Funding: The final section was on import regulations for 57 and funding for 316. 57 did a relatively weak job. The section provides good review, but lacks depth. It is still a very good section and much better than the vast majority of other submissions, but 316 did an even more impressive job, provided more details, tips, calculations, and funding leads.


Based on this comparison, both 57 and 316 are clearly extremely strong reports worthy of a praise. However, while 57 received very positive reviews overall, 316 was ranked higher on a number of dimensions, thereby earning the X-Culture 2016-1 the Competition Winner.


Members of all 10 Finalist Teams will received Best Team certificates, while Team 316 will also receive the Competition Winner certificates and a $1000 cash prize. All members of the finalist teams will also be invited to the X-Culture 2016 Symposium that is held of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship this year.

We are also working on interviewing the members of the finalist teams to produce an educational film based on their tips and insights into how to write a winning international business report.


Super finalist full-text reports:

Public discussion of the super-finalist report quality on X-Culture’s Facebook page.




WINNER: TEAM 316 (late track)
All Undergraduate Students
Keith Darrell Bragg USA
Corey Sorrento USA
Maria Paula Toledo Pinto
Brazil Andrea Assiro Italy
Zaid Khan UAE
Jessica Ferrari Italy

All Undergraduate Students
Stephanie O’Bryan USA
Abdulaziz F. Alowaymir USA
Lauren Elizabeth Wakefield USA
Abraham Eduardo Campos Rios Mexico
Yilin Guan China
Thomas Kachur Canada

TEAM 68 (early track)
All Undergraduate Students
Jessie Paul USA
Hunter Duckworth USA
Michael Flores Carrasco Mexico
Jaranbir Lalwani India
Jessica Breneol Canada

TEAM 120 (early track)
All MBA Students
Priacilla Leatherman USA
Sebastian Blaszczyk Poland
Fatin Najwa Binti Ahmad Zubir Malaysia
Nicolo Manni Italy
Tyler S. McLaren USA

TEAM 129 (late track)
All MBA Students
Ronald A. Castro Avila USA
Zuzanna Jakubiak Poland
Erik Halaj USA
Luca Conforto Italy

TEAM 294 (late track)
All Undergraduate Students
William Tracy USA
Caroline Vaz Da Silva Lopes Brazil
Beatrice Panzani Italy
Drashti Shah India

TEAM 300 (late track)
All Undergraduate Students
Cellie Estelle Foster USA
Samuel C. Cochran USA
Giovanna Mayumi Haianon Brazil
Francesca Seneci Italy
Mariam Alkhateeb Iraq

TEAM 301 (late track)
All Undergraduate Students
Christine Dawn Sonnier USA
Sergio Betancur USA
Henrique Bongiovanni Gigante Brazil
Giulia Caggioni Italy
Mashal Waqar UAE

TEAM 314 (late track)
All Undergraduate Students
James Parker Edwards USA
Connor Pietrak USA
Marcos Rassi Junior Brazil
Alessandra Ballestri Italy
Youssef Sami Semaan Lebanon
Giulio Magni Italy

TEAM 553 (late track)
Mix Undergraduate and MBA students
Carlo Carolo Italy
Nonie Zhang Taiwan
Marin Severdija Croatia
Caleb Lipford USA
Carlotta Tomsic Italy

The Winning team will be announced within 24 hours.