MikesBikes Intro Hall of Famer, Joe Powell

Interview with the Top Hall of Fame Student: Joe Powell

Joe Powell from Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) managed to land the #1 spot in the MikesBikes Introduction Hall of Fame!

Joe took the Introduction to Business course taught by Professor Josh Daines over at DMACC. He’s a 41 year old student and a father of 4 returning for a degree in Business Administration. He just graduated a degree in General Studies and got to share the experience of receiving his diploma alongside his wife and daughter in the same ceremony (see photo above). He is now currently working on his second degree.

He never won anything, except for an English contest when he was in 4th grade and a Renaissance Festival tickets last year, but now he managed to successfully land the Top position in the MikesBikes Intro Hall of Fame. This is such an incredible achievement!

We have interviewed Joe to learn about his journey on how he managed to achieve the top spot in the Hall of Fame, his experience and advice to future students.

Smartsims: What is your decision making process within the simulation?

Joe: This is actually the toughest question, I think, that you could ask. My decision making process started out simple, but as the rollovers continued, other factors began influencing my decisions. The first couple rollovers were straightforward: based on the advertising arc, which investments paid off the best? Then the additional product lines, how would the competition respond, what was the best allocation of funds outside of the advertising arc, etc.

Smartsims: What was your strategy going into the simulation?

Joe: I wanted to jump out to an early advantage, allocating funds where they would make the highest return. I wanted to maintain high revenues, high cash-on-hand, and minimize lost sales. I also figured the other firms would implement similar strategies, so I needed to be flexible yet maintain consistent growth. Once I began doubling my SHV every rollover, I focused more on my firm’s progress projections and less on the competition.

Smartsims: How did you begin implementing that strategy?

Joe: I knew the minimum SHV numbers that I wanted to hit at each rollover. I would run practice sim after practice sim until I found the right combination to get to that number. Once I did, I ran more sims to see if I could improve on it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I made myself frustrated.

Smartsims: How did you familiarize yourself with the simulation?

Joe: I started by opening it up and trying everything. At the beginning of the semester, I did single-player simulations and failed spectacularly. I learned a little here and there, and with the help of some professors at DMACC, I was able to get a grasp on the program.

Smartsims: How would you describe the competition?

Joe: The competition was fun, above all else. The other firms made strategy implementation vital because I just didn’t know what they would do. It was a lot more fun with real people playing instead of just a computer with predictable moves.

Smartsims: What resources did you pull on to develop your winning strategy which led you to be a part of the MikesBikes Introduction Hall of Fame?

Joe: I utilized the Single-Player format first. After about a dozen practices, I had a solid opening strategy. I also talked to MikesBikes guru, DMACC’s own Professor Zarr as well as my Business teacher, Professor Daines, and asked a few questions. Without pointers from them, I wouldn’t have reached the numbers I did. I studied the interviews of previous winners, played around with different strategies, even ran rollovers where all I did was change a few dollars here or there to learn where the benchmarks were. I created my own spreadsheet that helped keep track of money allocations, allowing me to look back on what worked and what didn’t.

Smartsims: What challenges did you face? How did you overcome these?

Joe: At first, my numbers were right where I wanted them. Then, I started getting lost sales and I couldn’t figure out why. My numbers were exactly where I wanted them, and the results should have been predictable. I turned to the offline mode, and it was a life-saver. I strongly suggest anyone in multi-player competitions use the offline mode. It will not predict your opponents’ moves, but it will help you figure out your own.

Smartsims: Was there anything in particular you did that you think helped to prepare yourself?

Joe: I obsessed over this simulation. It wasn’t healthy. I talked about it, I played it, I thought of new strategies while walking around Disney World. My kids rolled their eyes when I would bring it up.

Smartsims: How has participating within a course which uses a business simulation to supplement their teaching materials helped you? What do you think of the business simulation?

Joe: I really liked the sim as part of the curriculum. I mentioned that to the professor during the class review. Learning about the Advertising Mix as well as the Promotion Mix helped understand the importance of allocating funds to specific areas within the sim. Studying it, then putting it into direct action was really a cool experience. I really enjoyed having Mike’s Bikes as part of the class.