A team of three College of Business undergrads took first prize at the Colvin Case Study Challenge – a real estate competition usually won by teams of graduate students.
Nidhi Bansal, Ben Dlin and Grant Williams won the University of Maryland’s Colvin Institute for Real Estate Development competition, beating teams from 26 schools and besting second-place teams pulled from graduate programs. The trio shared a $10,000 prize for their winning analysis of a development project in Loveland. It was only the second time in the competition’s history that an undergraduate team has taken the top prize.
“I don’t think we knew that we’d be competing against Cornell and NYU grad students,” Dlin said. “When we went to the hotel and saw that they were 30, 35 years old and had been in the industry, it was pretty intimidating.”
The experience gap clearly didn’t throw the trio off its game. Presenting to a panel of industry professionals in the competition’s final round at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., the team presented an analysis of Brinkman’s three-block redevelopment of The Foundry in Loveland. Because the analysis focused on a mixed-use development, students had the opportunity to show off their skills in commercial and residential valuation on a project that includes elements disparate as a movie theater, restaurants, condominiums and a parking garage.
The Rams didn’t perform that analysis blindly, however. Leveraging Brinkman’s connection with the Everitt Real Estate Center, the team had the opportunity to meet with professionals for hands-on experience with the construction and financing of the project, including a two-hour meeting with Brinkman’s chief financial and chief development officers.
“We had an advantage in the fact that we met with Brinkman so many times,” Williams said. “It sounded like some other teams didn’t have that good of a connection with their developer.”
Proud to Be
Every team that travels to a case competition wants to come home with a victory, but for Bansal, Dlin and Williams, it was something more than just a win. It was personal: They were the first students from the College of Business to compete in the Colvin Case Study Challenge. They knew they needed to put their best foot forward, not merely to be competitive, but as a matter of Ram pride.
“We worked with (accounting professor) Margarita Lenk, and she opened our eyes to the fact that this was not just about us,” Dlin said. “This was the first time the EREC had offered this experience to students. We were guinea pigs. We really wanted to bring recognition to the school. It really did transcend just us.”
The win is the second major coup for the College of Business and the Everitt Real Estate Center this semester. In November, a College of Business team won the Sherman Miller Real Estate Competition, one of the state’s largest real estate challenges, defeating teams from the University of Colorado-Boulder and University of Denver.