The KINTO-MISA challenge: the winner is... innovation for sustainable mobility

The award ceremony for the students’ Project Work

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“The automotive industry has entered an era of profound transformation, the kind that only happens once in a hundred years.” It is Akio Toyoda speaking, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, the global automotive market leader with over 20 million electrified vehicles sold in 170 countries. That’s why we should not think of it as a hyperbole. Indeed the transformation can be described as momentous precisely because it goes beyond simple vehicle engine systems and concerns the way we conceive the use of cars and even more.

It is a cultural revolution rather than a technological one. This is highlighted by Toyota’s vision and its ambition to help build a better world by ensuring that people can move around without barriers and limitations while being totally safe and with respect for the environment. This vision is applied in their “Beyond Zero” strategy, which accompanies the Toyota Group in evolving from automotive to Mobility Company, and testifies to its ambition to achieve a mobility where zero emissions is only an intermediate step towards a more sustainable future.

A milestone in this transformation is the introduction of KINTO, Toyota Group’s third global brand, completely dedicated to mobility services. KINTO – whose name comes from Kintoun, that is “flying cloud” – was launched in Japan in 2019 and established in Italy in 2021. It aims to center mobility on the person by combining the most advanced digital technologies with energy-efficient, ultra-low emission vehicles, allowing the user to be a responsible actor in a joint move towards sustainable mobility. KINTO offers a comprehensive range of mobility solutions, from medium- to long-term rental to car sharing, from carpooling to multimodal mobility systems for individuals, businesses and local communities, all of which are environmentally friendly. This concept challenged not only the future of mobility, but also the creativity and abilities of SDA Bocconi’s MISA - Master in Entrepreneurship and Business Strategy students.

KINTO has launched a strategic contest for the Master’s program, asking 5 groups of participants to devise a commercial strategy for its mobility services. The students were asked to use new channels (online, retailers, ambassadors, etc.), in addition to the Toyota and Lexus sales networks, to increase brand awareness but also volumes and market share of individual services. The challenge was promoted by KINTO Italia and coordinated by Service Design & UX Senior Manager Luca Vetrone. It was brought to the Master’s participants by Arianna Schillizzi, MISA 2021 Alumna and now part of KINTO Italia’s Open Innovation program, and Luca Riso, who works in Toyota Motor Italia’s External Relations department.

The groups’ business ideas built on KINTO’s innovative integrated mobility solutions, which aim at covering all needs from extended possession to temporary use: both service-based and asset-based. The latter are based on Toyota and Lexus electrified vehicles: KINTO One is an all-inclusive long-term rental service; KINTO Flex a flexible short- to medium-term rental subscription service that will be introduced in the Italian market this year; while KINTO Share is a car-sharing service that uses a wide range of electrified/electric vehicles. Service-based initiatives, on the other end, leverage innovative digital platforms such as KINTO Join, a carpooling service intended for companies and those who share a place of work or study in general (including universities, hospitals, public institutions, etc.), and KINTO Go, a multimodal integrated mobility app for planning trips quickly and easily.

The projects submitted by the students included target audience and distribution channel analysis, a Capex and Opex budget, a communication plan and an estimate of expected results in quantitative (revenue) and qualitative (brand positioning) terms, over a 3-year time frame. It was a challenging task whose output was evaluated by KINTO management on the basis of quality of the analysis, originality, feasibility and, last but not least, responsiveness to the company’s values, i.e. inclusiveness – mobility that is truly for everyone; simplicity – getting around quickly and easily thanks to digital technology; and sustainability – concerning the environmental sphere but also the financial and social ones.

It was a gripping, true “shark-tank” style challenge, where contestants had to present their business proposals and convince the jury they were effective. This is the method adopted by MISA in its “Survivor Series”, contests with a final winner where students work in groups on a business challenge only revealed at the beginning of the day. In the KINTO challenge, market data was examined in depth and innovative business models outlined. The evaluators said many good ideas had emerged and it was not easy to decide which project should win and be awarded the prize of 500 euros in coupons to spend on KINTO mobility services.

“Discussing and sharing with you has been very useful to us,” Luca Vetrone, told the MISA class during the final meeting to present and award the projects: “You suggested an original and objective view of our services. One cannot do business without engaging with the ‘outside world’, just as you could not prepare to be entrepreneurs without confronting real business. We have realized which aspects we still need to work on, from brand awareness to communication.” Among the novelty points that deserve special attention according to the KINTO representatives are the possibility of using vehicles that have already been optioned in medium- to long-term rental formulas for the sharing services, and introducing a reward tool for virtuous users through a virtual currency, the “KINTO Coin”. The winning idea was to integrate KINTO Go and KINTO Join services as of specific events, leveraging the existence of temporary communities, e.g., facilitated purchase of tickets for shows combined with the opportunity to reach the event venue in a more sustainable way (carpooling, for instance).

As expected from the challenge, one winning project emerged, that of Group 1 – made up of Tomaso Banfi, Sebastiano Mattia D’Agostino, Matteo Dalmasso, Antonio Molinari and Andrea Zonaro – awarded for its best business plan and best strategy. “Above all, it was difficult to pick and analyze the right data,” said the award-winning students, “but working as a team was very useful and measuring ourselves against a real case was exciting.” – a true road test for future managers and entrepreneurs.

 

SDA Bocconi School of Management

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