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NPV: DoubleDutch Net Present Value Case Analysis

DoubleDutch Net Present Value (NPV) / MBA Resources

Introduction to Net Present Value (NPV) - What is Net Present Value (NPV) ? How it impacts financial decisions regarding project management?

NPV solution for DoubleDutch case study

At Oak Spring University, we provide corporate level professional Net Present Value (NPV) case study solution. DoubleDutch case study is a Harvard Business School (HBR) case study written by Frank V. Cespedes, Matthew Preble. The DoubleDutch (referred as “Coburn Doubledutch” from here on) case study provides evaluation & decision scenario in field of Innovation & Entrepreneurship. It also touches upon business topics such as - Value proposition, Marketing, Sales, Strategy execution, Technology.

The net present value (NPV) of an investment proposal is the present value of the proposal’s net cash flows less the proposal’s initial cash outflow. If a project’s NPV is greater than or equal to zero, the project should be accepted.

NPV = Present Value of Future Cash Flows LESS Project’s Initial Investment

Case Description of DoubleDutch Case Study

Lawrence Coburn and Pankaj Prasad, co-founders of the event solution startup DoubleDutch, have to make a significant decision about their young company's sales function. DoubleDutch's key product was a mobile application (app) and event management platform that customers could use to better engage and connect with their event participants (e.g. attendees at a conference, employees at a quarterly sales meeting), and also to obtain detailed information from these participants to deliver a better future experience, understand how the event was received, and receive large amounts of valuable data. The company was growing quickly and rapidly adding new customers, but Coburn and Prasad wanted to make sure that in the drive to add new customers, existing clients whose contracts were expiring were not "slipping through the cracks" when it came time to renew. But who within the company should be responsible for renewals? Sales? The customer success team that helped customers develop and deploy the product? Or an entirely new team dedicated solely to renewals?

Case Authors : Frank V. Cespedes, Matthew Preble

Topic : Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Related Areas : Marketing, Sales, Strategy execution, Technology

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 6% for DoubleDutch Case Study

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 6 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10012650) -10012650 - -
Year 1 3455878 -6556772 3455878 0.9434 3260262
Year 2 3967817 -2588955 7423695 0.89 3531343
Year 3 3939607 1350652 11363302 0.8396 3307770
Year 4 3251817 4602469 14615119 0.7921 2575744
TOTAL 14615119 12675119

The Net Present Value at 6% discount rate is 2662469

In isolation the NPV number doesn't mean much but put in right context then it is one of the best method to evaluate project returns. In this article we will cover -

Different methods of capital budgeting

What is NPV & Formula of NPV,
How it is calculated,
How to use NPV number for project evaluation, and
Scenario Planning given risks and management priorities.

Capital Budgeting Approaches

Methods of Capital Budgeting

There are four types of capital budgeting techniques that are widely used in the corporate world –

1. Profitability Index
2. Payback Period
3. Internal Rate of Return
4. Net Present Value

Apart from the Payback period method which is an additive method, rest of the methods are based on Discounted Cash Flow technique. Even though cash flow can be calculated based on the nature of the project, for the simplicity of the article we are assuming that all the expected cash flows are realized at the end of the year.

Discounted Cash Flow approaches provide a more objective basis for evaluating and selecting investment projects. They take into consideration both –

1. Timing of the expected cash flows – stockholders of Coburn Doubledutch have higher preference for cash returns over 4-5 years rather than 10-15 years given the nature of the volatility in the industry.
2. Magnitude of both incoming and outgoing cash flows – Projects can be capital intensive, time intensive, or both. Coburn Doubledutch shareholders have preference for diversified projects investment rather than prospective high income from a single capital intensive project.

Formula and Steps to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) of DoubleDutch

NPV = Net Cash In Flowt1 / (1+r)t1 + Net Cash In Flowt2 / (1+r)t2 + … Net Cash In Flowtn / (1+r)tn
Less Net Cash Out Flowt0 / (1+r)t0

Where t = time period, in this case year 1, year 2 and so on.
r = discount rate or return that could be earned using other safe proposition such as fixed deposit or treasury bond rate. Net Cash In Flow – What the firm will get each year.
Net Cash Out Flow – What the firm needs to invest initially in the project.

Step 1 – Understand the nature of the project and calculate cash flow for each year.
Step 2 – Discount those cash flow based on the discount rate.
Step 3 – Add all the discounted cash flow.
Step 4 – Selection of the project

Why Innovation & Entrepreneurship Managers need to know Financial Tools such as Net Present Value (NPV)?

In our daily workplace we often come across people and colleagues who are just focused on their core competency and targets they have to deliver. For example marketing managers at Coburn Doubledutch often design programs whose objective is to drive brand awareness and customer reach. But how that 30 point increase in brand awareness or 10 point increase in customer touch points will result into shareholders’ value is not specified.

To overcome such scenarios managers at Coburn Doubledutch needs to not only know the financial aspect of project management but also needs to have tools to integrate them into part of the project development and monitoring plan.

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 15%

After working through various assumptions we reached a conclusion that risk is far higher than 6%. In a reasonably stable industry with weak competition - 15% discount rate can be a good benchmark.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 15 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10012650) -10012650 - -
Year 1 3455878 -6556772 3455878 0.8696 3005111
Year 2 3967817 -2588955 7423695 0.7561 3000240
Year 3 3939607 1350652 11363302 0.6575 2590356
Year 4 3251817 4602469 14615119 0.5718 1859237
TOTAL 10454943

The Net NPV after 4 years is 442293

(10454943 - 10012650 )

Calculating Net Present Value (NPV) at 20%

If the risk component is high in the industry then we should go for a higher hurdle rate / discount rate of 20%.

Years              Cash Flow     Net Cash Flow     Cumulative    
Cash Flow
Discount Rate
@ 20 %
Cash Flows
Year 0 (10012650) -10012650 - -
Year 1 3455878 -6556772 3455878 0.8333 2879898
Year 2 3967817 -2588955 7423695 0.6944 2755428
Year 3 3939607 1350652 11363302 0.5787 2279865
Year 4 3251817 4602469 14615119 0.4823 1568199
TOTAL 9483391

The Net NPV after 4 years is -529259

At 20% discount rate the NPV is negative (9483391 - 10012650 ) so ideally we can't select the project if macro and micro factors don't allow financial managers of Coburn Doubledutch to discount cash flow at lower discount rates such as 15%.

Acceptance Criteria of a Project based on NPV

Simplest Approach – If the investment project of Coburn Doubledutch has a NPV value higher than Zero then finance managers at Coburn Doubledutch can ACCEPT the project, otherwise they can reject the project. This means that project will deliver higher returns over the period of time than any alternate investment strategy.

In theory if the required rate of return or discount rate is chosen correctly by finance managers at Coburn Doubledutch, then the stock price of the Coburn Doubledutch should change by same amount of the NPV. In real world we know that share price also reflects various other factors that can be related to both macro and micro environment.

In the same vein – accepting the project with zero NPV should result in stagnant share price. Finance managers use discount rates as a measure of risk components in the project execution process.

Sensitivity Analysis

Project selection is often a far more complex decision than just choosing it based on the NPV number. Finance managers at Coburn Doubledutch should conduct a sensitivity analysis to better understand not only the inherent risk of the projects but also how those risks can be either factored in or mitigated during the project execution. Sensitivity analysis helps in –

Understanding of risks involved in the project.

What are the key aspects of the projects that need to be monitored, refined, and retuned for continuous delivery of projected cash flows.

What will be a multi year spillover effect of various taxation regulations.

What are the uncertainties surrounding the project Initial Cash Outlay (ICO’s). ICO’s often have several different components such as land, machinery, building, and other equipment.

What can impact the cash flow of the project.

Some of the assumptions while using the Discounted Cash Flow Methods –

Projects are assumed to be Mutually Exclusive – This is seldom the came in modern day giant organizations where projects are often inter-related and rejecting a project solely based on NPV can result in sunk cost from a related project.

Independent projects have independent cash flows – As explained in the marketing project – though the project may look independent but in reality it is not as the brand awareness project can be closely associated with the spending on sales promotions and product specific advertising.

References & Further Readings

Frank V. Cespedes, Matthew Preble (2018), "DoubleDutch Harvard Business Review Case Study. Published by HBR Publications.