Campus: San Francisco State University -- January 14, 2004
SFSU Students Consult for E-Bay
Five students from SFSU's MBA program won a bid from eBay during the
fall semester -- not to buy anything, but to sell their marketing ideas
to the San Jose-based company known as "the world's online marketplace."
The students were asked to design a marketing strategy that would grow
eBay's health care category -- from a small group that grosses merchandise
sales of $15 million annually to a stand-alone category that would reach
annual sales of $100 million. On eBay, health care is housed in the
business and industrial category, which also includes products for construction,
offices, restaurants, textiles and apparel manufacturing, printing and
graphic arts, farming and semiconductor manufacturing.
The first-ever eBay and SFSU partnership
was initiated by Sanjit Sengupta, a marketing
professor who specializes in business-to-business marketing and the
increasing importance of the Internet and globalization. In August Sengupta
began discussion with the eBay client, John Anderson, associate category
Students from Sengupta's class, Electronic Business Marketing Strategy
(Marketing 872), were assigned the project according to their job descriptions
and skills. The group consisted of three working professionals, Beth
Rogozinski, Mike Marrich and Michael Yap, and two full-time students,
Chris Chu and Fang Wang.
In eBay's health care category, sellers are mainly small businesses,
used equipment dealers and corporate asset liquidators. The buyers are
medical professionals with their own practices. The students were charged
with devising a marketing plan to reach out to both buyers and sellers
in the health industry, convincing them to use eBay as an alternative
The group found that small but growing areas such as dermatology and
esthetician, home health care and the dental market are prime targets
for eBay's health care category. In addition, the students included
market penetration strategies for each of the target markets.
It was not an easy task, but the project provided a great learning experience
for the students. "I spent almost 26 hours a week on this. I looked
at it as a part-time internship," Chu said. It's real, not just
a class project where the only concern is grades."
Sengupta sees this as an excellent opportunity for his students.
"This is what marketing professionals are expected to do if they
were to join a company like eBay," Sengupta said. "The project
gives the students a chance to apply their learning in order to formulate
and implement a marketing strategy."
Throughout the semester, the students met with Anderson to discuss their
ideas and were in constant e-mail communication with prospective buyers
and sellers in the health care industry.
"Working with a real client has been a great motivation. You know
that someone's job is on the line and it's amazing to be able to work
with an expert in the field like John (Anderson of eBay)," adds
Rogozinski, a consultant with her own business, Systrum Media Consultants.
Anderson was full of praise for the group.
"I truly enjoyed seeing how the team's ideas developed over the
course of the semester. eBay is not always intuitive, and the students
were able to think strategically to generate valuable ideas," he
said. "Most importantly, the information they gathered and recommendations
they made will be important input to the development of eBay's health
care equipment strategy."
Media Contact: Ligeia Polidora, 415/338-3053, email@example.com