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Zi Chong

MIT Real Estate Case Competition in Under 48 Hours

by Zi Chong Monday, July 27, 2015

We were extremely disappointed as we did not receive any notification on February 26, 2015, the day on which semi-finalist of the MIT case competition were notified. We had a lot of confidence in our proposal but it turned out, we were overconfident. No email and no phone call on that day so we would not be continuing in the competition.

We had spent five days around the clock putting together a proposal that we believed would be best for a site located at downtown Seattle. The proposal had to balance the interest among city, land owner (a university), neighbors and also our potential investors. We came out with a yacht-themed building for a hotel and a condominium building behind the hotel. 

Six days before the semi-final round in Boston, and three days before the Badgers played in the NCAA Basketball Tournament Final for the first time in decades, we received an email notifying us that we were, in fact, invited to the semi-final for some internal reason.  My teammate, Jessica, texted us the news. Jessica was on her way to camp in the Rocky Mountains.  My other teammates, Chad Messner and Kevin Mahoney, were in Indianapolis watching the tournament.  I was Tempe, Arizona walking down S. Mill Avenue near the Arizona State University checking some developments in the area.

We decided to go for it, despite the lack of preparation time. Due to the travel schedule of Chad and Kevin, only Jessica and I could make it, and we could only meet for the first time 48 hours before the presentation in Boston. We had to get familiar with the competition requirements and our own proposal again, prepare for the presentation, while taking care of our own classes and day-time job (we both had a job as well). We practiced whenever and wherever we could: in the airport, in the plane, in the hotel, and even in the hallways right outside of the presentation room. I have never had my adrenaline level remain so high for such a long time.

Though we did not make it to the final round, the learning experience and the support that we received were tremendous. We learned how to deal with issues during crunch time; we connected with many students and industry professionals in the event; and most importantly the friendship among the four of us is invaluable. We will never forget the five days during which we subsisted on a diet of Cheetos and chips (while watching the Superbowl) in the boardroom of the Graaskamp Center.

Last but not least, a special thank you to Kate Hawley, Graaskamp Center Assistant Director, for getting all of our travel arrangements ready within such a short notice as well. Thank you Kate.

Click here to vew the proposal.