When Alexandra Spiliakos has a question, she turns to YouTube for the answer. “It’s like having your own personal tutor at your fingertips,” she says.
During her MBA at Boston College Carroll School of Management, Spiliakos used YouTube as a resource to help her better understand business concepts and strategies. Expecting to find lots of videos that connected business teachings with real-life cases, instead she encountered a lack of bite-sized, easily digestible content. So she decided to do something about it.
Spiliakos began building a bank of video examples that answered her own questions. Then, the pandemic hit, and things got really interesting.
A YOUTUBE SENSATION IS BORN
When coronavirus locked down all of higher education, Spiliakos’ MBA classes went virtual. Many of her classmates were nervous about transitioning to an online format, but since she’d spent the two years prior to her MBA as a content developer and marketing liaison for Harvard Business School Online, Spiliakos felt confident about online learning. To help make her classmates’ transition to the virtual learning environment easier, she got them to send her their questions — and that made her realize the depth of their, and others’, concerns. So she decided to share her knowledge with a wider audience through her first YouTube video.
With an influx of positive feedback, Spiliakos’ confidence grew. Plenty of content ideas already in mind, she launched her own YouTube channel to provide students with what she’d originally been looking for: videos that taught business in an approachable way through everyday examples. In April 2020, The Business Caselette was born.
“The goal of the channel is to unveil the strategy behind what consumers see in business in only five to 10 minutes,” Spiliakos says.
THE POWER OF CASE STUDIES
Whether she’s showing how an athleisure company inspires brand loyalty, diving into data analytics through analyzing The Bachelor, or demonstrating different leadership styles through Harry Potter, Spiliakos’ teaching style blends business with elements of pop culture through a “caselette,” or a small version of a case study. “Our secret sauce is that The Business Caselette is the first of its kind: a female-led, weekly presentation of a business case that’s short and sweet with clear learning objectives,” she says.
It’s no wonder that Spiliakos is well-versed in translating case studies into an online format; during her time with Harvard Business School online, she was involved in designing the school’s case study method. “I joined HBS online at a point where they were determining who they wanted to be in the marketplace,” she says. “I was involved in so many conversations about the purpose and design of the case study method, including what it’s supposed to evoke for a student and what they’re supposed to feel at every learning objective check-in. I became obsessed with understanding how to translate case studies into an online format, and developed a passion for creating that learning experience for people. I think my industry experience in course content development and marketing is at the core of what I’m doing today.”
Spiliakos says her videos target people like her: business students who want to digest information quickly and learn through examples. “I’m often asked what my audience is. Truthfully, I am my own target audience. I’m reaching business enthusiasts who are searching for resources to better understand the landscape,” she says. “I just want to show everyday customers what they’re actually seeing behind a brand, and what levers are being pulled to get them to take action or feel a certain way. Using case studies helps to teach this.”
Her channel is meant to help ease the transition between someone’s career and MBA program and teach those who either don’t have the means to go to business school, don’t feel that business school is the right choice, or want to dabble in business before committing to an MBA.
So far, feedback about her channel has been positive. “The majority of the feedback has been about the production and value in bite-sized learning objectives. People think the videos are well laid-out with a clear agenda, and they know exactly what they’re signing up for in those five to 10 minutes. This has really validated my content and application,” she says.
Spiliakos says that her MBA curriculum has been much of the inspiration behind creating content for her channel. “My marketing and branding classes, as well as the network I’ve created throughout the program, has helped me get The Business Caselette to where it is today,” she explains.
Spiliakos believes that video is the best medium in which to learn. “I would much rather see something and hear it spoken to me at the same time than to just read it or interact with it in a static manner. I like the interactivity that video offers as well as the ability to see equations or structures come together.”
According to Spiliakos, Facebook and Instagram are low-hanging fruits and can be approached similarly. YouTube, however, requires a different strategy. “YouTube takes a lot of planning, structural considerations, and thinking ahead of how each video directs back to the bigger picture and value proposition,” she says. “When creating YouTube content, you have to think: How are your viewers going to be directed back to the bigger picture? How will they understand your value proposition? How is it part of a greater whole?”
For the first year, she ran The Business Caselette solo. In July 2021 she hired her first team member, Matt Caminiti. Caminiti was a peer from Boston College and has a background in film and production. He also offers a wealth of business knowledge to the channel. The pair is committed to posting one new video each week since YouTube prioritizes consistent contributors. “We’ve been creating scripts together and working on animation ideas. He’s been a great support and invaluable team member who is helping me drive this forward,” she says.
While at first it was intimidating speaking into the camera, Spiliakos says that her confidence and skills have increased over time.
WHY AN MBA?
From an early age, Spiliakos wanted to pursue an MBA. She says that each step in her career has been targeted towards getting this degree. “I’m part of an industrial commodities family business. Throughout my whole life, my parents have been very entrepreneurial and encouraging of my passion for business.”
Spiliakos did her undergraduate degree in economics and anthropology at Wellesley College. During her undergrad, she interned with a wealth management firm for four years. Following graduation, she joined the firm full-time for another two years. “During my time there, my firm went through two mergers. I had a great mentor who walked me through all of the business decisions. From that point on, my interest in getting an MBA grew even more.”
With the belief that you need to understand each stage of business to be successful, Spiliakos wanted to hone in her problem solving and business strategy skills. After six years with the wealth management firm and two years with HBS online, she chose Boston College for her MBA. “I’m a Boston local and everyone in my family is an eagle. It was a direct line for me,” she says.
From her first video to the development and launch of her channel, Spiliakos says that Boston College peers, advisors, administrators, and professors have been supportive of her venture. “Many new admits ask the administrative office for resources or methods that they can use to prepare for the MBA program,” she says. “Now, the office is sharing The Business Caselette as one of those resources, which has been such a validating piece of feedback.”
Following graduation from Boston College in May 2021, Spiliakos landed a role in Raytheon Technologies’ supply chain and operations leadership development program. When she’s not working at her day job, she’s continuing to pursue her creativity via YouTube. “In every spare moment of my time, I’m developing The Business Caselette,” she says. “My hope is to increase learning accessibility for those interested in business.”
Long term, Spiliakos wants to continue to develop The Business Caselette’s learning tracks. “I would love to bring in other team members and really try to scale The Business Caselette into a larger resource. There are many possibilities on the table,” she says.
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