At this year’s MBS Explorer Days: Creativity & Expression, part of the bachelor’s program in International Business, MBS students tackled two specific business cases for Munich-based start-up happybrush and the non-profit organization B Lab Germany. They used sketchnoting to visualize their ideas before pitching them in front of company representatives and their fellow students.
Munich Business School secured the assistance of three partners to help host and shape the content and methods of MBS Explorer Days: Creativity & Expression 2022. Following the inaugural event last year and entirely in keeping with the notion of MBS explorers, the one-and-a-half day workshops aimed to motivate the sixth-semester bachelor’s students to engage intensively with the MBS values – being innovative, responsible and globally-minded – one more time before graduating, while also trying out new approaches and creative techniques.
On the morning of workshop day 1, the students and MBS Professor Dr. Patricia Kraft welcomed their first guest, Mathieu Mohorcic from the non-profit organization B Lab Germany. A founding member of B Lab Deutschland and its Head of Business Development and Certification, Mathieu Mohorcic introduced the students to the B Corp movement’s concept and mission. As a global initiative, it brings together companies committed to actively building a socially and environmentally fair and sustainable future. The non-profit organization B Lab oversees an independent certification and auditing process that enables companies to obtain certification as B Corporations. The special part about this certification is that, rather than being awarded for individual products or divisions, it measures a company’s overall social, environmental and economic performance across five different dimensions. Officially certified companies use their business activities as a force for good, operate in accordance with the stakeholder approach, and commit to regularly measure and continuously improve their social and environmental impact. “B Corp certification is to organizations what Fairtrade and Organic are to products,” explained Mathieu Mohoric succinctly, helping the students to understand B Corp and its movement.
The students’ second guest was Florian Kiener from Munich-based start-up happybrush, who joined virtually from the USA. Founded in 2016, happybrush produces sustainable oral hygiene products and, in 2019, became the first B Corp-certified company in its industry. In his presentation, Florian Kiener outlined the start-up’s journey, which has included plenty of ups and downs. These ranged from initial financing problems to successful guerilla marketing campaigns, a 2017 appearance on Die Höhle der Löwen – the German version of the Shark Tank (US) and Dragons’ Den (UK) – to winning numerous awards. He also outlined the start-up’s social and environmental commitments, which have become integral components of the company’s philosophy and have been officially certified by B Corp since 2019.
Although some of the bachelor’s students were familiar with happybrush and other high-profile companies in the B Corp community like Patagonia, Innocent and Weleda, none of them had heard of B Corp certification before the event or come across it when buying products from certified companies. In light of this, the tasks the students were set over the next few hours of the MBS Explorer Days: Creativity & Expression event were decidedly apt. Half of the ten groups of students tackled the question of how the start-up happybrush can better leverage its B Corp certification in its communications with end customers. The other five groups puts themselves in B Lab Germany’s shoes, developing ideas that could help the organization raise its profile among companies to ensure the B Corp movement and community continues to grow. Using the sketchnoting technique, each group devised three proposals for the management of happybrush and B Lab Deutschland. “Sketchnoting is a graphic process of notetaking using texts, illustrations and structures; it allows the students to encapsulate their ideas in a graphical, concentrated form. At the same time, it enables them to learn another method of visualizing, presenting and documenting content, which is a particularly valuable skill in the professional world. I’m delighted that we were able to secure Munich-born illustrator Heike Haas for this portion of MBS Explorer Days: Creativity & Expression!” said Prof. Dr. Patricia Kraft, Academic Director of the bachelor’s program in International Business at Munich Business School.