We are very proud to announce that the start-up Wisarfounded by Sandra Arévalo (EMBA Bi-weekly 14/15) was the winner of the 2nd edition of the Global Hack D Gap challenge. This is an initiative from 4YFNand GSMA Women4Tech that rewards digital solutions that aim to promote and create gender diverse teams, in an inclusive work environment within the mobile and tech industry.
Sandra started the EMBA journey while she was pregnant with her first child. At that time, she enjoyed a very stable professional life and the word “entrepreneurship” had never crossed her mind.
Doing an EMBA while working is a challenge, but imagine doing it while being a new mum! During the 18 months she found innovative solutions to balance her new role as a first-time mum with EMBA (like creating a schedule to feed her little baby in-between classes, with the invaluable help of her husband). The way she overcame the double challenge inspired her to take up on a new one!
Do it yourself
After the EMBA, she discovered that the inflexibility of the corporate world was no longer compatible with her personal life. She decided to make the most of her new situation and find an innovative solution on her own. It was then when she set up the company Wisar that offers a quality service to professionals that want autonomy and flexibility to manage their own time. EMBA gave her the tools to foster her professional and personal transformation… and her vision, passion and determination did the rest.
On February 28th Sandra was able to demonstrate that she is not only an entrepreneur and mother that successfully combines her professional and personal life, but most importantly, she helps others to do so.
What an experience it was to go to the Boston e-lab programme this summer! There are countless takeaways (too long a list to include here!) that will serve me well in the years to come, both personally and professionally. From this long list, at a personal level, I take with me the strong connection and the lessons learned from my classmates – an amazing group of people from various Executive MBA cohorts across ESADE.
We experienced situations both in and outside class that made us become a real team, and which I’m sure will lead to collaborations in the future. Of course, we now know how to close deals over lobster dinners with bibs and all! If that isn’t a bonding experience, I don’t know what is! At a professional level, the best way for me to encapsulate the experience is to say that it was eye-opening and mind-boggling at the same time. I felt challenged just about every day to do something new; I also felt a sense of urgency to make a difference.
Sometimes we think within the constraints of what we know, but why not “think big”? The possibilities around innovation, technology and robotics were simply amazing, as we learned at MIT, at Harvard and at the various e-labs we visited throughout the week. Even when an idea seems crazy or unreachable or simply “out there”, if you believe in it, if you feel passionate about it, try it! Leaving with this feeling that “I can do it, too” was worth the money. We saw teams and people working on projects that I would have never imagined, and yet there they are, building businesses and getting funding for them.
Unlikely partners like musicians and engineers working together to come up with solutions to simple and complex problems – why not?! “Thinking outside the box” can be a cliché, but we saw that the most creative ideas came precisely from those who push the status quo. Of course, we needed to bring it down to the practical level: ESADE gave us a good run-down on how to pitch ideas to venture capitalists (our final assignment!), how to manoeuvre the Boston ecosystem (which is the same as that of Silicon Valley) and how to think about teams and working spaces differently. Lastly, I felt proud to see fellow ESADE alumni and fellow Europeans bringing their ideas to life in the Boston ecosystem.
Thank you, ESADE! I had a blast and I can definitely recommend the Boston e-lab. Anyone interested in entrepreneurship or life-changing technology should sign up for this experience.
“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
The graduation ceremony of the Executive MBA class of ‘17 was held in late April.
Whenever the programme ends, both the students and the faculty members involved in their education have mixed feelings. On the one hand, they are enormously pleased about everything they have achieved, the growth they have experienced at all levels, and the excitement of a new phase in life; on the other hand, they are somewhat sad about leaving behind a group that has contributed to the personal and professional development of each participant, and about the end of an era that marked a turning point in their lives.
As class representatives Kseniya and Don confessed, the 45 participants, with their diverse range of backgrounds, profiles and objectives, “started out as a class of students and ended up like family”.
That just about says it all. Congratulations to all of you, and I hope these months are just the beginning of a lifetime of successes and achievements, both personal and professional.
Click here to see more photos of the EMBA class of ‘17 graduation ceremony.
A turning point. A challenge. Leaving your comfort zone. A push towards a dream. Trust. Passion. Finding your place.
What do these concepts – which attract us as much as they scare some of us – have in common? Change. They all arise from a change, a decision, a transformative act that opens up paths that you had never before imagined. New experiences that, once you’ve had them, you are very grateful for.
And you know what? These are the responses that our EMBA students gave when we asked them what ESADE’s Executive MBA meant to them. These are the opinions of our changers. But now it’s time for others to form part of this transformation, which begins in one person and expands throughout the community.
Watch the EMBA’s testimonial video (in Spanish) here
What is #beachanger?
Our changers talk about drivers of change, personal development, catalysts, and how the EMBA has given them the personal and educational tools they needed to cope with changes in their careers that many of them had dreamed of but didn’t know how to bring to life. The professionals who take the EMBA acquire a renewed sense of security and confidence as a result of gaining new knowledge and sharing business ideas and experiences with their peers and professors.
For these professionals, the EMBA is a holistic change that affects them and their companies. And the companies, in turn, value and cultivate the participants’ new capabilities. That’s how you create a cycle of positive feedback and growth that benefits both parties.
Many people simply see change, but not our EMBA students. They want to be change. And they are. They are changerswho, from day one, want to be involved in transformations that they believe in and are passionate about.
And slowly but surely, that passion makes them feel more and more unstoppable. A passion that many of them say is the most effective and accurate way to find one’s way in business and in life.
Published in Business Because on Monday 17th October 2016 by Seb Murray
B-school venture Made of Genes scoops award from The MIT Technology Review
Oscar Flores Guri, left, and co-founder Miquel Bru
An ESADE EMBA has been named one of Spain’s top-ten innovators under the age of 35, in an award whose past global winners include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the entrepreneurs behind companies such as Paypal and Uber.
Oscar Flores co-founded Made of Genes with his former ESADE EMBA classmate Miquel Bru.
The MIT Technology Review, a leading journal in the tech and innovation field, draws up a list of 300 the world’s most talented entrepreneurs under 35 each year.
The judging panel has two criteria in whittling down the list to 10 winners: Individual talent, and the project’s scope for changing society.
Made of Genes created a pioneering world model for DNA analysis that does away with the need to sequence the same genome twice for two different tests.
The Spain-based company has just concluded a funding round of €500,000 and is currently undertaking international expansion.
Oscar, who holds a PhD in biomedicine, met his co-founder and began work on the venture during ESADE’s EMBA program in Barcelona.
“Despite my scientific and technical background as a computing engineer and researcher at IRB Barcelona, I have always been attracted by the world of business. The training I was given at ESADE was vital for making this project a success,” Oscar says.
Miquel added: “This project began in ESADE classes as just another MBA assignment. But it was the ESADE project validation and methodology that told us that we could turn our dream into a reality.”
The pair illustrate the strength of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at ESADE, and the growth in number of executives who are using b-school to launch their own ventures. The business school is home to ESADECREAPOLIS, an innovation ecosystem for students and companies, and EGarage, a space designed for the cultivation of new start-ups.
In June, ESADE was ranked third in Europe for entrepreneurship by the FT.
“Since our founding over 50 years ago, entrepreneurship has always been in our DNA,” says Luisa Alemany, director general of the ESADE Entrepreneurship Institute.
“In the programs that we teach, in our research, and in all of our activities to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we strive to go as far as possible by creating networks of collaboration. Making the global top 10 encourages us to keep doing what we love every single day.”
Published in Business Because on Monday 10th October 2016 by Marco de Novellis
Linda Ferstl studies alongside a senior sales role at luxury group Festina
Linda is an EMBA student at ESADE Business School in Spain Linda Ferstl is kick-starting her career with an Executive MBA at ESADE Business School in Spain. Linda is senior export area manager at the Festina Group, a luxury giant at the forefront of the watchmaking sector. There, she manages relationships with distributors in Eastern and Central Europe, Scandinavia and Russia. In charge of the key accounts of major duty free and inflight clients, she’s increased sales by an impressive 30% over the past three years.
She has vast international experience working in Asia, Europe and the US. But even so, the ESADE EMBA has opened up her horizons. During her studies, she’s travelled to Brazil, India, and undertaken an entrepreneurship and innovation program in Boston, USA. Plus, her class is truly international, comprised of leading executives from over 19 different countries. Previously a global brand manager for Esprit Watches in Hong Kong, Linda relocated to Barcelona and took up a role at Festina. Now, with an EMBA at ESADE, she wants to strengthen her knowledge of global strategic management and take her career to the next level.
Why did you decide to pursue an EMBA at ESADE?
I have always planned to go back to university, waiting for the right time and city to combine work and studies. Having more than 11 years global working experience, the International Executive MBA was the most relevant to my level of experience and my career goals. Besides location and reputation of the university the most important factors for me were how international the course is and how the schedule is compatible with my work. On top of this, I was looking for a mix of theory, case studies and practical application, as opposed to purely focusing on case studies. ESADE was the school that best met my criteria. The monthly format gives me the necessary availability for my job and the entrepreneurial focus of the university was also attractive to me.
What should EMBA applicants consider when deciding on a program?
The main criteria I would recommend are the language of the program, schedule, financial investment, teaching method, and specializations of different programs, and of course rankings are also important. After that, the choices become more the matter of personal preferences, such as choosing between online, in-person, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly MBA, EMBA, GMBA programs. Once shortlisted, visit the top universities of your choice, participate in welcome days and sit in the lectures to experience first-hand the atmosphere. Talk to other students, alumni and get as much personal feedback as possible.
What have you gained from your EMBA experience so far?
I have gained a tremendous knowledge upgrade and I have received insights into different business areas and functions. We have learned new business strategy and leadership methods all of which I can apply directly in my daily work. I also served as a class delegate for two consecutive terms, which allowed me to engage actively with the university and improve diplomacy, negotiation and social skills. The MBA has provided a safe haven to take on different roles and responsibilities, get feedback, and step out of my comfort zone. I have learned a lot about myself–about my strengths and weaknesses, about how my actions impact others–all of this forms a stronger, more conscious and empathic me. I can see my growth with every month into the program, both personally and professionally.
What international experiences are on offer?
I have been in one week in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Mumbai /Hyderabad (India) and did a three-day elective seminar in Corporate Entrepreneurship at SDA Bocconi. During the summer break, I participated in a two-week Entrepreneurship and Innovation study tour to Boston where we visited incubators and accelerators like Mass Challenge and Venture Café, MIT MediaLab, Harvard Innovation Lab and other members of the Boston community. Getting such first-hand insight into an incredible eco-system for innovation and entrepreneurship was mind blowing. Next, I will do another elective in Digital Marketing at Rotterdam School of Management and will close the program with a week in Georgetown, USA.
What are your plans for the future?
I seek to gain more international experience – change gives me drive and opens new perspectives. I am targeting a position where I can lead a team and work cross-functional. I seek to be involved in the creation of new business divisions, organizational units or finding new business opportunities. I want to see the impact of my work, build and guide teams. One option is to pursue my career in the luxury, fashion sector. Besides that, the EMBA at ESADE has also broadened my vision to see outside of my current role and sector. The corporate sustainability lecture in the MBA was very engaging and made me curious about exploring potential opportunities in this increasingly important business field.
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.