Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Bovine Pregnancy Testing, Inc

Academic journal article Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies

Bovine Pregnancy Testing, Inc

Article excerpt

CASE DESCRIPTION

BPT is a business start up case, based upon field research, requiring students to examine initial financing, marketing issues involving changing customer attitudes, and determining appropriate core customer groups. Additional issues include developing an appropriate organizational structure and developing business process arrangements with domestic and foreign customers. The difficulty level is five, with sufficient information provided in the instructor notes to use the case in both senior and graduate level strategy, policy, and entrepreneurship courses. The case is designed to be taught in two class sessions following reading of the case and instructor handouts provided in the case notes (two hours). A formal case write-up and presentation by a student or case team should take approximately 10 hours.

CASE SYNOPSIS

Bovine Pregnancy Testing, Inc., (BPT), is a bio-tech start up firm whose main product, ELISA, is designed to provide dairy farmers with early and accurate pregnancy testing capabilities not requiring manual examinations which can injure and/or abort the fetus. Because the productivity of dairy cows is related to frequency and timing of pregnancies, incremental improvements in pregnancy testing can significantly improve profits. The firm's product cannot be patented but is protected by trade secrets and technical know-how.

BPT is two years old with a small customer base. Growth has been hampered by a lack of capital, resistance to change by dairy farmers, and poor marketing. The current product, which requires blood samples to be sent to regional veterinary laboratories for over night testing, is competitive with traditional manual examinations performed by veterinarians. An upgraded test that can be administered by the dairy operator (i.e., "cow-side") is in the development stage. With 9 million dairy cows in the United States, the product has a multi-million dollar per year sales potential. Interest in the product has also been achieved in at least two foreign countries.

BPT has many challenges: (1) overcoming the resistance of veterinarians who earn fees from the traditional manual testing, (2) creating a compelling argument for angel/venture venture capital financing, (3) determining the core customer group (large or small herds and/or domestic or foreign markets), and (4) managing and operating a start-up business. The case is based upon field research involving BPT leadership, operators of dairy herds, and owner-operators of veterinary clinics and laboratories. Information provided in the case and the instructors' notes provides students with opportunities to explore angel/venture capital financing, marketing high technology products, product positioning, developing financial and marketing elements of a business plan, and exploring many practical aspects of launching a new business.

INSTRUCTORS' NOTES

As a high tech start up firm case, the instructor should decide whether to use all information provided (i.e., a comprehensive case) or focus on one or two of the main issues present in the narrative: financial forecasting, angel and venture capitalism, marketing, organization, and product process and delivery. Overview essays covering the dairy industry, venture capital and a sample financial forecast support comprehensive or focused analysis. It is also suggested that the case be handled differently for senior undergraduates versus graduate students:

To support market potential discussion as well as marketing plan recommendations, ask students to carefully consider and make sure they understand key product positioning issues such as:

* is the need/benefit manifest and obvious,

* what is the relative advantage versus manual (rectal) palpation

* how well does the BPT test fit with existing dairy/veterinary practices

Ask students from all class levels to recommend marketing plans and sales support programs for both domestic and foreign markets. …

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