New Entrepreneurship Case Releases for 2021

The USC Marshall Greif Center

Entrepreneurship Case Collection

The year 2020 reinforced the importance of more and more tools in the entrepreneur’s toolkit.
Resilience. Adaptability. Persistence. Creativity.

As an educator, you’ve had to demonstrate the same qualities—resilience, adaptability, persistence and creativity—to keep your courses relevant and engaging for your students.

These and other case studies can help bring your classroom—or your virtual classroom—up to date with the latest trends shaping the entrepreneurial environment. Check out the New Releases from the Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies case collection.


Kickoff: The Launch of Los Angeles Football Club LAFC

Located in the media capital of the world and boasting a cadre of high-profile owners, Los Angeles Football Club, the newest MLS franchise, launches with great fanfare in 2018. Despite its location, LAFC’s early strategy doesn’t emphasize a star-studded publicity campaign; rather, the club develops a novel “one by one, block by block” fan engagement approach. LAFC and its early supporter group leaders look to carve out a unique place for the club in global football. 

TOPICS: Brands, Crowdsourcing, Customer experiences, Customer satisfaction, Implementing strategy, Organizational culture, Publicity, Startup

LAFC: Tackling Intolerance

The first home match of the expansion Los Angeles Football Club is marred by the appearance of an exclusionary and derisive chant from some parts of the crowd. How should LAFC react in order to ensure the in-venue experience it has sought to create?

TOPICS: Brands, Customer experiences, Customer satisfaction, Diversity, Organizational culture, Social equality, Social issues, Startup

Aflore and Polymath Ventures: Two Sides of the Coin

Ana Barrera has worked for nearly five years building the personal finance startup Aflore as a part of the first cohort of Bogota, Colombia-based incubator Polymath Ventures. Even as Barrera and her team build a customer base within Colombia’s population of “unbanked” citizens, they must overcome some challenges in their working relationship with the Polymath incubator. They must also decide if they should bank on the strength of their original person-to-person marketing network, or if they should prioritize new smart phone capabilities.

TOPICS: Consumer marketing, Distribution, Entrepreneurship, Fund raising, Global corporate cultures, Leadership teams, Peer relationships, Personal selling, Rapid growth stage, Social networks

This case is a sequel to "Polymath Ventures: Building an International Incubator"

Barnana: Adventures in Upcycling

BarnanaFormer triathlete Caue Suplicy knew the importance of healthy foods. After he observed US entrepreneurs and major CPG players capitalize on “superfoods” from his native Brazil to build huge brands, he thought he spotted an opportunity to do the same with one of his favorite snacks from childhood: dried bananas. As he developed his new venture, Barnana, Suplicy discovered the massive amount of “waste” green bananas in international supply chains, structuring Barnana’s production systems so the company could upcycle fruit that would otherwise be discarded. Barnana’s first successful lines in the sweet snack category are followed up with potential megahits in the salty snack arena—but the new offerings may stretch the company’s organic supply chain to its limit.

TOPICS: Buzz marketing, Green marketing, Rapid-growth stage, Succession planning, Supply chain sustainability

ChekAbuse: The Ethical Challenges of a Family Startup

In this immersive exercise, ChekAbuse, a family-run medical startup focused on anti-addiction treatments, is in the spotlight. The company and its employees face an array of strategic and ethical challenges—conflicts regarding the division of equity, individual responsibilities, and the management of their corporate reputation. Students will step into the shoes of the ChekAbuse characters as they attempt to plot a successful course for the company and look out for their own interests.

TOPICS: Entrepreneurship, Ethics, Startups

Chewse: Delivering a Culture of Love

Chewse, a venture-backed food delivery company founded by Tracy Lawrence, has attributed its success to its corporate culture. Calling itself a “love company,” Chewse has strived to build the kind of corporate catering company that could help ensure that no employee eats alone. Lawrence must consider potential geographic expansion plans in light of her goal to maintain and build on her company’s “love culture.”

TOPICS: Computer software, Employee-employer expectations, Entrepreneurship, Global corporate cultures, Managerial behavior, Organizational management, Rapid growth stage, Strategy, Values

Lucas’ Leaps

An aspiring entrepreneur wrestles with the challenges of balancing a full-time job and his work on new ventures. Now, he looks to fully embrace the life of an entrepreneur as he pursues a new app concept to make professional networking more efficient. Is he following the right path—professionally and personally?

TOPICS: Career planning, Concept stage, Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship, Personal characteristics, Startup stage, Work history

MODMASK: Starting Up in a Pandemic

ModmaskIn the middle of the 2020 COVID crisis, Maryam Garg looks to grow her premium mask business. She struggles to figure out which suppliers to use and how to build a reliable relationship with them. Students examine different criteria for making that choice, including Maryam’s personal motivations and goals—as well as the strategic landscape, cost, communication and trust. The case explores decision-making in the context of lifestyle entrepreneurship and in highly volatile competitive environments.

TOPICS: Startups, Business Models, Strategy, Suppliers, Partner Selection

Platform Startups: Launching Online Marketplaces

Online marketplaces confront the challenge of the “Penguin Problem,” i.e. how to attract their first users and leverage network effects. Susan Spender puzzles over how to get started with her platform business connecting pet owners to pet enthusiasts who perform small tasks, such as feeding and dog walking. She and her team examine four popular platform companies – Eventbrite, GrubHub, Instacart, and TaskRabbit – and learn from their startup strategies. By comparing and contrasting the four companies, students explore a series of possible approaches for tackling this crucial issue of platform entrepreneurship and differentiate which strategy works for which company/industry. The “Platform Business Model Canvas” helps them identify the key elements of platform entrepreneurship and see how they are interrelated.

TOPICS: Platforms, Networks, Startups, Business Models, Technology

Relativity Space: Rocketing into the Future of Manufacturing

relativityRelativity Space, a Southern California startup in the booming commercial spaceflight sector, is leveraging 3-D printing technology in the manufacture of small and responsive space launch rockets. From 2016 to 2019, Relativity’s young founders, Tim Ellis and Jordan Noone, raised over $175 million, built an organization and established the capacity to print an entire rocket. However, when competition in the market for small satellite launch systems heats up, the duo must decide how they can best use their technology and adapt to the changing marketplace.

TOPICS: Change management, Customer acquisition, Investors, Market segmentation, Stakeholders, Startup, Strategy

Swoop: Consolidating the Group Transportation Industry

swoopThe case describes challenges and possible responses for Swoop, a group transportation platform that started as a tiny operation and became a growing company with approximately $10 million in annual revenue. In March, 2020, Swoop was poised for major expansion, signing up a significant fleet of vehicles and attracting a large customer base—until the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation. The company faces numerous challenges in business development, financing and hiring that could end its successful run if not handled appropriately. Swoop partners Ruben Schultz, Peter Evenson, and Amir Ghorbani must decide how to navigate the bumpy road ahead.

TOPICS: Startups, Startup financing, Hiring and recruitment, Diversity, Software Development, Adaptive Leadership, Crisis Management, Disaster Recovery

Enhance the learning experience with the case supplement "Swoop in the Era of Coronavirus," which examines how the founders adapt to the challenging new environment in the travel industry and the overall economy.

Technical Note: Instagram for Educators

Students engagement in their learning process drives better performance and higher information retention. The use of Instagram in the classroom provides new tools to boost engagement and facilitate learning with new generations of students. In this note, we show how to use Instagram’s large set of photo and video features to create engaging and interactive content to pair with the standard coursework both inside and outside the classroom.

TOPICS: Faculty & students, Social media, Teaching methods

Voyager Search: Virtual Workforce, Real Growth?

Voyager Search is a rapidly growing company in the enterprise search and geospatial information systems (GIS) industry. Although headquartered in Southern California, it achieved early success with an entirely virtual and global workforce. As a small company, the founders navigated the challenges and opportunities of managing a virtual team, from corporate culture to competitive advantages. However, as the company expands from 20 to 40 employees, the founders must assess whether the company is outgrowing its virtual structure.

TOPICS: Computer software, Entrepreneurship, Global corporate cultures, Organizational behavior, Organizational management, Strategy, Telecommuting, Virtual companies

Available at Harvard Business Publishing and The Case Centre

Coming soon: Ivey Publishing