FEMBAs win “audience choice” and 2nd place overall at the “Interactive Launch Competition”

Here’s a great pick-me-up for Thursday afternoon. Four FEMBAs won in two categories, plus pocketed $1000 in prize money, at the “Interactive Launch Competition” at The NCTA Cable Show.

20140501 Kristen Palchak 16

Kristen Palchak ’16, Senior Account Manager at TVGla

20140501 Arjun Ramamurthy 15

Arjun Ramamurthy, ’15, Sr. Product Manager, Sony





20140501 Laura Strauss 16

Laura Strauss ’16, Director, Affiliate Sales and Marketing at TV5MONDE



20140501 Lauren Johnson 16

Lauren Johnson ’16, Marketing Manager at Beachbody









Kristen Palchak ’16, Arjun Ramamurthy ’15, Laura Strauss ’16, and Lauren Johnson ’16 joined efforts and entered the case competition and walked away with two awards, $1,000, and a new, shared experience.

Dylan: So tell me about the case competition. How’d you learn about it? Why did you choose to enter, and how much effort was it?

Laura Strauss: It was actually just this past Monday, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Our team partnered with Cisco as the mentor company.  We presented 4K / Ultra High Def technology for the cable industry, and won the “Audience Choice Award” and 2nd place overall for the competition!

20140501 Laura Strauss, Kristen Palchak, Lauren Johnson

L-R Laura Strauss, Kristen Palchak, Lauren Johnson (all FEMBA 2016). Not in this photo is Arjun Ramamurthy ’15.

We learned about the competition when Craig Leddy, the event organizer, emailed the Entertainment Marketing Association.  Although the EMA sent out the information to all members – full time and FEMBAs – the FEMBAs were the only ones who signed up for the competition!  I posted on the FEMBA Facebook page to see if anyone would like to join, and we put together a great team.

20140501 shortbanner-EMAThe work started in earnest during Spring Break, with our first scheduled call on March 26. We had about one phone call each week with Cisco, a few calls with the event organizer, and then met as a team on campus every Saturday.  We also sent in a few rounds of rough drafts to Cisco and the event organizer.  

20140501 ucla fembas with cisco mentors at ncta 2014

UCLA FEMBAs with Cisco Mentors at NCTA 2014.

I’m estimating we had about 4 hours of meetings and calls every week and 4 hours of independent work, so about 40 hours total of work for each of us.

In the beginning we had to research both 4K / Ultra High Def technology and the cable industry.  How does the technology work? How can cable companies use it to distribute content to subscribers? Should the industry use this technology and why?  Then Kristen and Lauren focused on the marketing plan – who should the industry target and how.  We put it all together in a presentation and practiced, then practiced again, then practiced again.  Finally, once we thought we were done practicing, we practiced some more!

There were about 200 people in the audience, including 10 people from our mentor company Cisco, and other industry executives including Michael Powell, CEO of NCTA, former head of the FCC, and son of Colin Powell.

Dylan: Thanks Laura, and all. Any take-aways from the experience?

Lauren Johnson: I’m happy to take a stab at take-aways. Pardon my brevity as I’m typing from my phone, in between meetings are work.

1) Importance of team dynamic – People notice! One of the judge’s comments was that she could tell we all really liked each other and supported each other during the presentation which allowed for each of our personalities to shine through yet still connect as a team. We all knew we liked each other, but it was interesting to a judge to notice and comment.

2) You don’t have to have flashy ideas to win. – One of my favorite judge’s comments was that our rollout strategy was “admirably pragmatic”. While at first this felt like a backhanded compliment and I wasn’t sure where it was leading, he quickly followed-up by saying we had the only presentation the judges felt the industry could actually launch tomorrow and have success with. In fact, someone from Samsung just informed us he used a few of the points from our presentation when selling 4K set-top boxes to cable operators!

Dylan: Well that is fantastic guys. Thanks for being “on the court” and for representing UCLA and FEMBA so well. Keep us posted as to what opens up from this experience.


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