Our monthly Executive MBA participants recently dealt with a case that was somewhat out of the ordinary: that of Renova’s black toilet paper. The activity was the topic of their Marketing Strategy class, involving a case study which would put all their newly-acquired knowledge to the test. At the end of the class, Prof. Andrés Cuneo resolved the case with the group, explaining the final outcome.
ESADE’s EMBA is a 4-phase programme, which focuses on Management Development from all vantage points. The Marketing Strategy module in particular, is carried out in Phase 1 -entitled “Company, Environment & Function”- touches on innovative aspects of management, which are learned, discussed and debated in-depth, offering a current vision of the company and its reality.
During the session in question, the participants reflected on the Renova case and offered their own perspective on the managerial decision-making process behind choices of this kind, and how they affect the success, or otherwise, of business models. To everyone’s surprise, including Professor Cuneo himself, one of the students came bearing gifts: everyone in the class got to take home a roll of black toilet paper!
No doubt you will wonder what on earth the connection is between these things. Yet there is one – the 2017 Aquatech Innovation Awards. These awards are strongly committed to sustainability and – as their name suggests – to innovation.
Tecnoturbines, a company founded by Jaime Lledó, a former student of the 2016 EMBA programme, has won one of these top awards. Lledó´s start-up, headed by the former ESADE student and three engineers from Alicante, received the prize in the Transport & Storage category for its picoturbine, an economic and efficient solution which allows for energy generation to monitor installations with difficult access to the electric net. The award was made in Amsterdam on the 30th of October 2017.
The purpose of Lledó’s company is to develop technology that allows one to use water pressure to generate electricity. The secret lies in the installation of micro-turbines in the water distribution network to reduce or take advantage of over-pressures.
Companies that store large quantities of water can use the firm´s products to save resources and thus cut costs. Some of the potential customers of Tecnoturbines are enterprises operating in the irrigation sector, industry, and the distribution of drinking water.
Tecnoturbine´s project will revolutionise its target market. Its pioneering products, solutions and services in the hydraulic industry are precisely what the Aquatech Innovation Awards have been heaping accolades on for years. In this edition of the awards, Tecnoturbines was chosen from among 13 leading companies and projects by a jury of top experts from firms such as Wetsus, Akzo Nobel, Shell, and Stowa.
Water is a scarce, valuable resource that needs to be treated in a socially responsible manner. Innovation plays a key role in achieving this goal. The 2017 edition of the Aquatech awards (which were held in Amsterdam this year), showed their commitment to social and environmental sustainability by donating the registration fees to AMREF Flying Doctors — an NGO. AMREF is currently carrying out a project in Tanzania to: eradicate the practice of female circumcision; provide drinking water for women and children; improve community hygiene and sanitation.
During ESADE´s Executive MBA (EMBA) programme, students come up with projects whether within their companies or as a new line of business/entrepreneurial venture. How are these projects brought to fruition? The last stage of the EMBA programme — the Business
Capstone Project — puts the finishing touches to the plan to create a new business. Experts tutor students and evaluate the project. The projects themselves are chosen by programme participants depending on their track records, backgrounds, and aims. These projects often go beyond the classroom and end up as successful companies. The aim is clear-cut: to provide EMBA participants (who are all professionals with great potential) with the tools to reflect, learn and act in making their dreams come true.
Jaime Lledó is a prime example of the way the EMBA programme helps participants develop their entrepreneurial flair and projects. Tecnoturbines — Lledó´s brainchild while he was at ESADE — has grown to the point where sales have reached the one million Euro mark. The EMBA programme was key in laying the foundations for this success. Furthermore, Lledó and his team are bent on making the firm grow and they are opening up international markets to this end.
These four young professionals are pioneers. Their training, professionalism and determination means the sky is the limit!
The EMBA team has added a new communications channel. On 19 July we premiered on Facebook Live with a video featuring Judith Puigbó, associate director of admissions for the Executive MBA. She was accompanied by two participants from the current EMBA monthly format, Naïma Maëlle Zodros and Alexey Kultyshkin.
The video included a relaxed discussion on personal experiences and various aspects of the EMBA. Naïma, from the biotech industry, decided on the EMBA because she wanted a 360º vision of business; while Alexey wanted to complement his previous education with a more comprehensive programme.
Both positively value the diversity of EMBA participants – something that enables mutual enrichment and productive teamwork. Alexey, who had not previously considered being an entrepreneur, felt that starting a business was now an option after his experience at ESADE.
Questions discussed during the interview include the various methodologies used in the programme, its international weeks, time management, and student business plan ideas (one of the most important sections of the EMBA in which participants choose whether to develop their own entrepreneurial idea, or develop a project within the company where they work – called intrapreneurship).
The care and follow-up provided by the ESADE team is another factor that participants value. ESADE enables participants to visit the school, attend classes, and talk with alumni to acquire more information and viewpoints before making a final decision.
During the video, there was also an opportunity to talk about the best personal moments experienced during the EMBA. At the end of the discussion, viewers could participate and ask questions live or later at: email@example.com.
The video already has more than 2000 viewings and can be seen here. It is the first of a series that will be made periodically to bring live EMBA news, experiences, opinions, and advice from participants. See you next time!
“On our EMBA study tour, we visited the Indian school of business. I must say that I was very pleased with the quality of the classes. They were all tailored to give us a general view of India’s current situation regarding foreign investment. After four days of intensive learning, I found myself wondering if I would I invest and how I should do it?
India is a pool of untapped opportunities, however doing business in India is not easy. When selling to the emerging middle class, prices should be affordable – hence low – while still managing high margins. It makes it tough to obtain an acceptable return on investment. I found interesting how the teacher mentioned that for a product to succeed in the Indian market it would have to succeed first at the bottom of the pyramid. Then it should be adapted to higher segments therefore making innovation a key reason for success in India.”
Read Naïma M. Zodros’ (EMBA ‘16) whole experience in this article
Published in Business Because on Tuesday 27th September 2016 by Christian Robinson
Bruno Balbás and his co-founders have already produced two million bottles of Sangría Lolea
Bruno and three colleagues launched Sangría Lolea during their Executive MBAs at ESADE
Alcohol and business school don’t usually mix well, but for Bruno Balbás, things were a little different.
His Executive MBA from ESADE Business School brought with it a massive career change. Having previously worked in hospitality management, in 2011 Bruno and three friends founded Sangría Lolea, the world’s first gourmet sangría.
Consisting of red wine, chopped fruit and brandy, sangría is an immensely popular drink in Spain and Portugal, with an increasing worldwide presence.
In the midst of the global economic crisis and overshadowed by the inexpensive and omnipresent Don Simón brand, Bruno originally found it tough to convince retailers that Sangría Lolea was worth spending the extra money on.
With over two million bottles sold and a presence in more than 40 countries, it’s safe to say that Bruno has overcome those teething problems. On the horizon is a restaurant chain, although Bruno’s primary aim is to consolidate Lolea’s position in the market.
Where did the idea for Sangría Lolea come from?
I started Sangría Lolea with three of my good friends – Nieves, Cheles and Javier. It came from our collective need to recover from a global economic crisis.
In 2011, we began to think about what we could do to push our careers outside the company we all worked for. The company in question, like so many others at the time, had to drastically cut its budget.
As a consequence, we suddenly became unable to implement our many ideas, because there was little support available.
We wanted to continue creating new experiences and projects for clients, but the message we received continuously from our bosses was that people didn’t want new things, that people were too sad.
It was at that point we started to dream about creating our own business.
What are the main challenges you’ve faced so far?
In 2012, when we were contacting retailers about our new gourmet sangría, their only point of reference was Don Simón, the low-cost boxed sangría.
Once we had bottled Sangría Lolea, it had a price similar to that of a premium wine. We therefore had to convince traditional retailers that we had invented a new category, that of gourmet sangría.
Our last challenge was to try to explain our history and the values of this new product to the market.
We overcame these problems through use of the Internet, social media and doses of originality in our communication campaigns, but also because we were convinced of the eventual success of the high-quality product we were offering.
Why did you decide to pursue an Executive MBA?
When you’ve been working in the same job for ten years, you start to feel that your career might be becoming too specialized, and you begin to feel the need to open up to new opportunities.
That’s exactly what happened to me, and an Executive MBA was the logical response.
Why was ESADE the right school for you?
Of all the business schools that were accessible to me, ESADE was the most open-minded in terms of education, as it placed a high value on people both individually and as part of a community.
From the very beginning, I felt like I was part of a team of people characterized by mutual support.
The origins of the company Made of Genes date back to 2013, when Oscar Flores (Calella, Barcelona, 1985) and Miquel Bru (Barcelona, 1978) (then both unknown) decided to take the ESADE Executive MBA. It was in the Business Development Project course, taught by Prof. Jordi Vinaixa, that they met and they got the idea for what would become their company several years later and take up a big part of their lives. Miquel came from the business development field in a technology consulting firm focusing on the Health Sector. Oscar had just finished his PhD and Bio-Medicine in a joint programme between IRB Barcelona and the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre.
We spoke to Oscar and Miquel, two of our ‘changers’ to find out about the project that they started in ESADE’s classrooms and which has ended up as a firm with a bright future.
How did Made of Genes come about?
Oscar Flores [OF]: Made of Genes is a firm focusing on personal genetics. Here, one should remember that genetics is involved in 9 out of 10 of the main causes of death in developed countries. Nevertheless, personalised genetic medicine still needs to overcome several hurdles: the high cost of gene sequencing, the technological complexity of managing the resulting data, and the lack of knowledge of the field by both health professionals and by society in general. In Made of Genes, we try to find answers to these problems, providing technical tools and a legal framework so that experts’ knowledge reaches the man in the street. There are now eleven of us in the company, we have secured over €600,000 in funding and we are laying the ground for the firm’s internationalisation.
Miquel Bru [MB]: The truth is, the whole thing started as just another assignment in the Master’s programme but Oscar’s vision hooked me from the outset. It was not just a question of solving technical problems — that was the easy bit. The hard part lay coming up with a package that: both fostered tailor-made care for each patient and put the patient’s health and illness first. Moreover, this had to be based on knowledge of the patient’s genome and the testing had to be responsible, efficient, protect users and be sustainable in system terms.
In broad terms, how does Made of Genes work at the technical level?
MB: There are studies suggesting that less than 30% of prescription medicines are effective due to individual variations. This makes one realise that we are not all the same and that the differences between individuals should be taken into account. This is the idea that led us to develop the technological part of our product: a high-performance computing system that allows one to obtain, analyse and store genetic data from a saliva or blood sample. We use the system to provide medical specialists, researchers and customised health services with this genetic data as and when each user wishes. We offer preventive solutions and diagnostic support, and personalised services/products created specifically for each user depending on his genotype. Each person decides what should be done with his genetic data and we do our utmost to carry those wishes out while ensuring complete security and privacy. This ensures that our customers can receive medical care that is both personalised and precise.
On your web site, you argue that “Everyone should be given the chance of improving his or her life”. How do you see this democratisation of technology at Made of Genes?
MB: To answer that, let me put the Health Sector in context. According to the OECD, public spending alone on Health rose from 6.9 % of GDP to almost 9 % in 2030 and will rise to 14 % by 2060. We live in a society that is ever more demanding when it comes to Health Care. In a globalised world in which knowledge flows freely, we have to come up with strategies that allow efficient Health Care through policies and tools that focus on preventive medicine, more effective treatment and the re-use of information by various service providers.
OF: At Made of Genes we have always wanted to provide personalised medicine based on Genomics. That is why our model puts the client first. There are many companies, especially in The United States, which have seen the value of genome data and which gather personal information to commercially exploit it later on. We have always shunned this model. We want to create a genomic service that anyone can use without renouncing privacy, and always have the final say in what information is released and to whom.
You met each other taking an Executive MBA [EMBA] programme at ESADE. What made you decide to take it?
OF: I always knew that I wanted to work in business. I am a Computer Engineer and when I was finishing my degree, I began a diploma in Business Studies, which I dropped when I decided to do a PhD. It was then that I decided to do an MBA on finishing my thesis.
MB: For me, the key factor was the need for a change. After five years working in consultancy, I wanted new challenges and goals. However, I thought that just a change of job was not the answer. I needed to think, acquire knowledge and pool experience with others before taking the next step. Here, the ESADE EMBA seemed just the ticket.
Did you want to become entrepreneurs before you took the ESADE EMBA programme? What influence did the EMBA have on your project?
MB: No, I wasn’t thinking about starting my own business, rather it was part of the process I just mentioned. The EMBA is not an Academic Master’s programme but a change process that gives you the tools to reflect and to plan your next objectives. With regard to how much the EMBA affected our project, it all began as just another assignment and a year and a half later, we are striving to make the dream come true. I don’t think we would be where we are now if it had not been for the EMBA programme.
OF: I had also neither thought about founding a company and in fact I am still surprised at doing so. In the beginning, it was simply a capstone project. We had found we had too good an opportunity to let it slip through our hands. I suppose that the EMBA programme gave me the self-confidence I needed to tackle something as inherently risky as founding a start-up.
What knowledge and values did you acquire during the EMBA programme and that you applied in setting up Made of Genes?
OF: Made of Genes is a firm that is inspired by the Lean Start-up model. We began with an idea and its corresponding Business Model Canvas. Then, after several validations of the idea, we varied it up to eight times until we found a value proposition where we could say to ourselves: “That’s the idea, now let’s register a company”. We then carried out several more iterations of the idea and honed our vision in the light of market feedback and the resources we had available. Nevertheless, having a flexible, dynamic vision at the outset was vital. With hindsight, the first seven business models would not have worked in the real world.
MB: Yes, that’s absolutely right. The obsession with validating the model and focusing on the market has become of part of Made of Genes‘ DNA. It is something that we have established as ‘best practice’ among our various work teams. The key is to meet users’ real needs in which technology has to solve problems, not create them.
What changes has taking the EMBA made to your careers? Did it mark a watershed in your lives?
OF: It certainly made a huge difference. When I joined the MBA programme, my view of things was an entirely technical one. For me, the technical aspects were the most important things about a product and I naively believed that a good product would sell itself. After completing EMBA, I no longer thought that. I had become aware that the market and sales strategy are much more important than the product. Paradoxically, I believe that having the new vision of the market helps technical types like me to identify real needs and thereby develop better products.
MB: The key point is the 360-degree vision EMBA gives you in a classroom with 50 professionals drawn from different backgrounds and experience. In the year and a half that the programme lasts, you take this in and it changes your way of seeing a company and helps you grasp and take decisions far beyond your context or position. Having founded a start-up marks a watershed in one’s personal and professional development. Why would you recommend taking the EMBA?
MB: Taking the EMBA is a unique opportunity for personal, professional and intellectual growth. I would recommend it to anyone who is eager to grow and learn in ways that go beyond the strictly academic.
OF: As I mentioned, I believe that the EMBA programme is a way of giving a technical type like me the tools they need to thrive in senior management. To be honest, I would not recommend EMBA for everyone merely as a way to get a better job. I think such an approach is the wrong one and that there are many other ways of climbing the ladder — for example, through professional specialisation. An EMBA is a way of getting a better grasp of business complexity while renouncing greater specialisation. If you aim to get this wider grasp of business, the EMBA programme is undoubtedly one of the best investments in time and money that you can make.
How would you sum up your experience as entrepreneurs? What would you say to someone who was thinking of setting up his or her own company?
MB: Entrepreneurship is a way of life for us. We think about Made of Genes 24 hours a day. Passion for one’s project is vital for anyone thinking of starting their own business. Second, I recommend that the decision be a family one. Do not even think about starting a business unless your wife or husband is willing to back you to the hilt. Last, when it comes to finding those who will help you along the way, seek people who complement your skills, who you can rely on, trust and learn from.
OF: I would ask someone thinking of beginning a firm whether they are just looking for a job tailored to their needs or for a scaleable solution to a social problem. They are two very different notions of entrepreneurship and involve different levels of risk and self-sacrifice. When it comes to scaleable business models, we in Spain cannot afford to continue thinking only about the domestic market. This means that we need to plan internationalising our business from the outset despite limited resources and access to funding. Whether we like it or not, we still have a lot of catching up to do when we compare how things work in the start-up eco-system in The United States.
Pubblished in Cinco Días on Monday the 19th August 2016 by Javier García Ropero
MBA programmes are considered the best training option for would-be senior managers yet they can also be a great place to start a small business. One such company — Brava Fabrics — was born in the ESADE MBA programme. It makes printed shirts (whether with bicycle or cassette designs) which are unique. The firm has made a splash in under a year and a half after being set up. Its founders, Ramón Barbero and Ivan Monells met while working together in the EMBA programme.
Ramón Barbero, on the left, and Ivan Monells, partners of Brava Fabrics. (Marta Jordi).
The firm’s garments have a ‘hipster’ touch, although both Brava Fabrics‘ founders are loathe to pigeon-hole their customers. “We want customers to love our style. The aim is not for customers to buy just a great shirt but rather to wear a ‘Brava’ on special occasions, explained Ramón Barbero, a 36-year old who trained as an Economist and who looks after the firm’s branding. His partner, 30-year old Ivan Monells, is an Industrial and Computing Engineer who takes care of the logistical and financial sides of the business. The two men have different backgrounds but they found that their skills nicely complemented one another when they worked together on the EMBA Capstone Project.
The Brava showroom is sited in Indiana House, in the Poble-Nou district of Barcelona.
It was then that they decided to work together on a new venture after trying their hands at various on-line businesses on their own. The earlier experiences helped them learn and see things more clearly. One of the things they saw from the outset was that the new business had to be based on E-Commerce. They studied various sectors and realised that men’s fashion had bags of potential. “We chose shirts because it is a product that creates barriers to entry. You know that others are not going to copy your products — at least in the short term”, said Ramón Barbero. They scraped together their savings and got a couple of entrepreneurship loans to create Brava. In the beginning, the printing was not going to be the differentiating feature. “However, we quickly saw that it was what made the product a hit”, said Barbero, who noted that the company’s shirt designs are agreed on by the whole team, which comprises three members of staff and two outsiders.
This year, they hope turnover will rise to €600,000, a big rise over 2015 (€150,000). Their sales are made through the on-line channel, while 15% of sales are split between their Barcelona showroom and various marketing campaigns, such as city market stalls. Last year, the company was present in both Palo Alto and Barcelona, helping fuel the company’s launch.
This growth has helped boost production. They bring out four collections a year, which now feature 10,000 garments apiece. However, they also come up with new products every two months. “That means our products change every month, spurring customers to keep spending”, said Barbero. Short-sleeved shirts, Bermuda Shorts, men’s underwear, and women’s dresses and blouses make up a range of the firm’s highly distinctive garments. The next step will be to expand the firm’s equity in 2017.
“Nobody will believe more in you and your product than you. You have to have a vision of your company and carry it out”, said Anshuman Vohra, founder of Bulldog Gin, at the 2nd session of the ESADE EMBA Update & Connections cycle, held on the 7th of July.
Anshuman Vohra was sure that gin had a lot of market potential and that he would do his utmost to make sure the beverage reached bars and households around the world.
His father made the young Anshuman his first Gin & Tonic. Anshuman loved the taste and years later he was irked when he discovered that nobody asked for gin in bars. By contrast, the shelves of bars brimmed with over twenty brands of vodka. He simply could not understand why customers did not drink gin in bars and restaurants.
After several years of working in a merchant bank, Vohra decided the moment had come to set up his own company. Gin and Tonic was a remarkable drink, it only remained to convince the rest of the world. “My generation saw gin as the spirit of a bygone age. It was vodka that was the ‘in’ drink. ”. He began organising blind tastings of vodka and discovered that people could not distinguish between brands — all vodkas tasted more or less the same. Yet when he asked drinkers what their favourite brand of vodka was, people had very strong views. Everyone had one or two brands that they considered better than all the rest and that they would not change for anything. The key lay in the emotional link consumers had forged with brands. By contrast, gin did have a distinctive taste: each brand’s mixture of ingredients made it unique. If Anshuman could create a great-tasting gin and forge an emotional bond between consumers and the brand, he would score a great hit. He was convinced he could pull it off.
It was then that Vohra began his arduous quest for the perfect product. He spoke with entrepreneurs for hours and was fascinated by their energy. All of them had one thing in common: they were passionate about their ideas and were ready to back them up to the hilt because they were utterly convinced that they would work. After an endless search, he finally found a London distillery that was capable of creating the gin of his dreams but that was not to be found in the market — a perfect combination of cereals, cardamon and spices.
At last in 2006, what had started as an idea at last became a product. He had managed to create a gin for the new world, breaking down the barriers of those who saw gin as ‘old-fashioned’ and a tipple for their grandparents. Vohra knew that not everyone would like Bulldog Gin but those that did would become true fans.
“The best idea in the world is worthless if it is carried out badly”, concluded Anshuman Vohra at the end of the session. The talk was part of the EMBA Update & Connections cycle, which provides valuable lessons for today’s business on key subjects and gives all Executive MBA cohorts the chance to pool their experience.
Published in Business Because on Thursday 14th July 2016 by Christian Robinson.
Sebastian Oergel’s EMBA fits perfectly around his high-ranking managerial duties at the Tom Tailor Group.
Sebastian Oergel will graduate from the part-time ESADE EMBA in 2017
Hailing from Stuttgart, Sebastian Oergel can boast over a decade of business experience in fashion, from storied Italian houses such as Ermenegildo Zegna to retail titans like Adidas and Nike.
In that decade, Sebastian worked in five countries, including Germany, Britain, Hong Kong, Panama, and The Netherlands. As a result, he slotted perfectly into the diverse cohort on ESADE’s Executive MBA program, which requires its students to complete three separate trips abroad to top business schools, as well as offering a four-month exchange program.
Halfway into the 16-month program, Sebastian has already begun to reap its benefits, gaining multiple fashion contacts, and is applying his learning continuously to his new role as manager in international sales at Germany’s venerated Tom Tailor Group, where he is responsible for their expansion drive into Africa and the Middle East.
Why did you decide to pursue a EMBA at ESADE?
Though my supervisor initiated the process, I decided which school I would study at, taking into account several factors important to me, such as ranking, diversity, course length, methodology, class size and location.
I chose ESADE because it is, in my eyes, the best business school in Europe, and met all of my personal requirements.
I was also able to pursue electives such as negotiations, B2B sales management and strategic digital marketing, which are all directly applicable to my new role as manager in international sales at the Tom Tailor Group.
How have you gained from your MBA experience so far?
The monthly format works perfectly in tandem with my responsibilities at the Tom Tailor Group. And I can’t underestimate the added value gained from the international exposure and relevant industry insights.
I’ve had the opportunity to visit India for an intensive study week at the Indian School of Business, conducted alongside company visits in Mumbai. There are also trips to Brazil, China, and the US.
I’ve gained many fresh perspectives from my classmates, I’ve met an impressive array of people from the fashion industry and other fields, and I am convinced that some of these contacts will open doors for new business and career opportunities.
Published in Business Because on Wednesday 6th July 2016 by Christian Robinson.
Former BBDO PR Manager Irene Rocha attained a holistic outlook at ESADE, which she then used to grow an e-learning start-up.
Having worked for 10 years in Madrid, Irene Rocha knew that an Executive MBA (EMBA) was the next step she had to take in her professional career. Though she wasn’t unaccomplished by any measure.
Irene was, by the time she started her EMBA at ESADE Business School in Madrid, already an experienced PR manager at BBDO, the advertising agency that supposedly inspired AMC’s Mad Men. During her studies, she consistently applied her comprehensive learning to her role at Gamelearn, the world’s leading game-based e-learning platform.
Now, Irene is going it alone, implementing her highly-developed business skills and assiduous work ethic to her own PR, Marketing and Communications company. And she has big plans for the future.
Why did you decide to pursue an EMBA at ESADE?
I wanted to do two things, the first being to pursue future managerial roles in sales and marketing within the consumer goods industry.
Step two of my career path was to leverage the knowledge and experience I would gain from my EMBA to start my own communication and marketing consultancy with a global management perspective.
I chose ESADE because they provided a learning model predicated on collaboration and participation, as well as a very well-sorted and cohesive international program, which is crucial in a globalized world.
Which tracks or specializations did you choose and why?
For the first 12 months of the EMBA we study the core content, but in the final four months we’re able to choose from a range of tracks.
I focused on Marketing and Communication, since this was already my area of interest and expertise, and believed I could benefit from the more specialized network.