Play it Green. It makes Business sense!!!

Written on August 20, 2014 by IMBA News in News

Should you bet on Sustainability? Does it make business and financial sense to go for a green positioning? What can companies and brand expect for these sort of approaches?


I could actually write a book about these questions, but would rather keep it simple today. According to a research from Havas Media Group, Brands must be meaningful. In the sense that they need to embrace values that resonate with customers. If not, you risk becoming part of the mainstream (7 out of 10 brands according to this research) and become irrelevant to your target group… I.e. your customer would not care at all if your brand disappeared…

Meaningul Brands

Bearing this is in mind, there are quite a few possible approaches here. You can create a Corporate Brand Identity around sustainability like the one of Unilever, or you could keep it simple and go step by step. And, if you opt for the latter, then the approach would be simple: Take one value that resonates with your customers and build upon it.

Meaningul Brands Info

One of the possible values is everything related to playing it Green, to positioning yourself as an Environmentally Friendly Company, who cares about Nature and the Ecosystem. And one example of this would be what not a company but an Industry has actually done: The Green approach of the Hotel Chains.

You know what I am speaking about, but let me share one recent example I got so that we are all in the same page. I just went to Penn State University for a Symposium on Digital Learning. The event took place in an Event Centre where everybody was hosted. And of course, when in the room, you could find it with signs that were basically telling something like this:

  • “If you want your towels to be replaced, please leave them on the floor….
  • If you want your bed sheets not to be changed, please leave this sign on your bed…
  • When deciding, please consider the amount of resources that are thrown away and the impact is has on Nature…
  • We are fully committed Hotel with Sustainability and appreciate your support…”

towel save planet

The result?

Firstly, most customers decide to play it green.

Secondly, the Hotel Chain makes a good impact on the brand positioning, as long as customers end up perceiving the brand as committed with sustainability.

And lastly, the Hotel Chain actually saves a lot of money for not having to wash and replace thousands of towels and bed sheets…

Food for thought

Quite simple, isn´t it? But it works and delivers quite good results. So bear in mind two things from here:

  • Brands needs to resonate with customer values, they need to resonate and engage.
  • The latter does not necessarily imply ad multimillion investment. It could be as simple as taking one value and get your message across.

I look for your comments @ignaciogafo


Ignacio Gafo


El IMBA como herramienta de autodescubrimiento

Written on August 13, 2014 by IMBA News in News

Repost del blog IE América Latina  http://latam.blogs.ie.edu/

Post escrito por Ignacio Baquero, alumno actual del International MBA

Ignacio Baquero

En mi caso particular, tomé la decisión de venirme a realizar el MBA al IE como una manera de encontrar cual era mi vocación profesional y lograr entender que me apasiona. En fin, lograr encarrillar mi futuro y sabe que me gustaría hacer ya que después de 5 años de experiencia en consultoría y logística no lograba dar en el clavo.

El IMBA no solo te abre las puertas en lo profesional y académico, sino también en lo personal. La continua exposición a personas de 93 distintas nacionalidades, de un gran rango de edades y con una trayectoria profesional de carreras que nunca había ni escuchado, te hace reflexionar en todo momento y te hace cuestionar muchos paradigmas. Simplemente te abre los ojos y te pone al mundo en tus manos.

Ya con un 60% del programa finalizado, he logrado entender cuál es mi real motivación en lo profesional y he logrado forjar una filosofía de vida, la cual quiero seguir y transmitir a mi futura familia. Como consecuencia de todas estas experiencias y por casualidades de la vida, me he dado cuenta de que tengo la capacidad de pintar cosas que me gustan, por ejemplo todo lo relacionado con el surf y el mar. Me apasiona mucho el mar y como ahora vivo lejos de él, me puse a pintarlo. Con unas pocas horas viendo youtube, he logrado recrear mis lugares favoritos y expresar mediante el arte lo que me gusta.

Nunca en mi vida hubiese pensado que podía ser pintor, y aunque suene un poco extraño, ha sido el MBA el responsable de esta faceta. Los cuadros que he realizado han sido un éxito entre mis compañeros, y con solo 1 mes de empezar, ya tengo una lista de espera de 10 personas que me han pedido uno y ya otros 4 tienen uno, que se van a llevar luego a sus hogares en 4 distintos continentes. Esto es el verdadero poder del IE.

Pueden visitar y seguir mi blog de pintura en www.surfpainter.wordpress.com

Ignacio Baquero Méndez


Ola 2Pinturas



Ferrari opens its doors to IE Business School

Written on August 4, 2014 by IMBA News in News

For many it is a dream come true to have the opportunity to visit the Ferrari factory, even better when invited by the directors themselves. Being from to one of the most prestigious business schools in Europe, Ferrari offered us the opportunity to learn about the legendary company and then give them feedback on what challenges they might face in the future and how they should prepare for them.

Our group of 20 handpicked students flew to Maranello, Italy for a personal meeting with Luca Zanetti (Global Marketing Director), Stefano Saporetti (Director Brand &  Licencing) and Dennis de Munck (Director of Talent Acquisition and Development) who helped us under stand the strategy applied by Ferrari in the market segment to which they belong, the luxury market!

As part of the visit, Dennis de Munck led us on a VIP tour in the areas of production, this tour can be done only by individuals invited by Ferrari as sponsors and customers who are having their cars built; so this opportunity was unique. We also visited areas such as restoration of old cars whose value can exceed 30 million euros. Each one of those cars provides a better understanding of the meaning a Ferrari represents in the customers’ life. All the directors, especially Mr. Dennis de Munck, were willing to listen to our opinions as well as our questions and promoted a comfortable environment for conversation.

A new commitment begins as we now have the opportunity to shine in front of the most important directors of the Italian brand that have placed their trust in IE Business School.

José Acosta

Current International MBA student (April 2014 Intake)




IE startup Challenge Week!

Written on July 23, 2014 by IMBA News in News

IE’s foundation was built on entrepreneurship and we continue to bolster this in our curriculum. The incorporation of the Challenge Week modules as a core component of the MBA, equips students with hands-on, practical experience and soft skills that they can utilize in their careers.

IMBA students took on the role of consultants for an intensive week-long challenge with the goal of finding solutions facing an organization. This past July, the April 2014 intake of the IMBA, tackled real life dilemmas of 4 startup companies, born and bred right here in IE’s basement at Area 31 (People-Sports, Alterkeys, Hot Hotels, TripMenu).

The students had the opportunity to work with these 4 companies in the early and self-discovery stage. Their challenge was to find meaningful way to engage their users. Through design thinking techniques, interactive workshops and the input from external experts, 28 innovative and out-of-the box solutions materialized.

We are the only MBA program in the world that offers this unique experience to its students. This was the first time we were able to give a hand to our own IE alumni and devoted 200 brilliant student minds for this adventure. Past projects included large enterprises, BBVA and IKEA, and we are looking forward to working with GE this coming October!




Pushing the Boundaries of the Traditional MBA Classroom

Written on July 15, 2014 by IMBA News in News

As part of one of the IMBA Challenge Weeks, #ieIMBA students helped IKEA review its customer relations strategy by addressing the following challenge: “What should IKEA change internally in order to become a more customer-focused company without changing the core IKEA concept?”
Watch this video to get a glimpse of what happened during this exciting week:
YouTube Preview Image

With over 80 nationalities on campus, cultural diversity is clearly a main component of IE Business School. This is something that within IE we feel every single day, from when we discuss topics in class and listen to the varied perspectives of such a multicultural student-base, to when we go down to the cafeteria and hear the buzz of a plethora of different languages.

IE´s Global Village is a way to celebrate this diversity that so much enriches our day-to-day student experience. It is an invaluable opportunity to get to know different cultures better; learning about their traditions, their values, and even their culinary specialties!

In this one-day event hosted on campus, we have the chance to see country representatives and some of our most talented students perform in a fun talent competition where amazement and laughter are ensured. We also get to meet the partners and children of our colleagues whilst listening to great music and trying delicacies from around the globe. The relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere makes this experience one of the most fun and memorable of the year. An experience where diversity is the protagonist and the feeling of unity and companionship in the air makes the IE community come together as one, more than ever.



photo 4Second part of the interview between current IMBA student Jacob Huber and Joe Haslam, founder of the startup Hot Hotels.

Did you have any previous experience in this industry?

Two of my co founders were both veteran travel guys, O’Connor had set up a company called hoteles.es which is very close to what we are doing now, only on the web. I started off writing software in a consulting company and I´m still very interested in complex backends and how all that knits together. The value Hot Hotels is in the backend, not the frontend. The frontend is just a way of showcasing a new way of behaving, to a new supplier base. We currently make bookings through the apps of third parties and eventually we will do much more through them than actually through the Hot Hotels app itself.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in the context of a potential MBA exit with significant amounts of debt?

First of all, I am completely against debt of any kind. Debt leads to slavery, Haven´t you seen Spartacus? The best way to pay for an MBA is to build a company before and sell it so you do not have to worry about debt. That being said, it has never been easier to raise money,  and you can never really look at those things as a constraint. As an entrepreneur, you turn problems into solutions meaning when you are raising money you can raise a lot more money and if a guys asks you why say “because I have some MBA debt I need to clear and I need to be paid a salary of X to live and Y to pay back y student debt.”  If you are upfront with your situation and have a compelling idea that is fine. Everything is about turning problems into solutions, which basically means that before you take your first round you can be cheap, but is suddenly not OK to continue to be like that and investors are suspicious if you do. If you continue to have an office in a warehouse in the suburbs rather than something that is a bit more upmarket they are suspicious. The thing that Conor and I have most in common is our obsession with capital efficiency. The companies that survived the dot com crash all had it. I am mentoring a startup here in the Venture Lab and I found out that they paid for lunch with the VC, and I think that is all wrong because you are the startup. They have the money and you want it, so they should be paying. I think that entrepreneurs can be slow to understand the strength they bring, because they are effectively giving VCs an education in terms of what approaches and business models are interesting, and VCs are learning just as much as you are. The more startups you do, the more you push back against your VC. They are an important part of the ecosystem and can do a lot for you but you should never be afraid to ask them to help you with more than funding.

Have you been in the position of a VC?

I was a VC before we started Hot Hotels, but that experience turned me off. I think one of the problems was being in the tough Spanish market. Spain just does not have any break-out stories, there is no Facebook, and what depressed me was that the best case scenario was not that impressive. Even if we found guys with the best companies, ideas and execution, none of them were thinking NASDAQ like in Ireland and Israel. Until Spain has a garage to NASDAQ success story (and not just a spin off) overseas investors won´t have the fear-of-missing-out that they have in Silicon Valley.

Can you tell me about your experience mentoring in Venture Lab?

Mentoring for me is mostly coaching, you do not give them solutions but the drive to find them themselves. You tell them what they are doing is worthwhile, that people value what they are doing. Sometimes you need to make a connection for them, but mostly you teach them how to fish instead of feeding them. If you try to teach them, you can give bad advice because you have only been in a limited amount of similar circumstances. In mentoring you get back what you give, if you give them a good experience they will also talk good about your startup and help spread the word. The hardest part is letting them go like “lions into the wild” (Born Free was on Irish TV a lot when I was growing up), telling them that you will not mentor them anymore. Everyone I have mentored I am still in touch with, and we are still talking about their issues. This is good, because people who are attracted to entrepreneurship are just by definition interesting people, they are curious and helpful and considerate, not toxic. Companies can be toxic, because they just want to get and not give. People in the world of entrepreneurship are prepared to give to get. The problem with entrepreneurship in Spain is that people are only starting to realize how interdependent they are, there is still a problem with envy of other’s success. The truth is that if anyone invests in any Spanish company, it is a win for the whole ecosystem. Investors’ perceptions are shaped by the headlines they see and in the case of Spain that is everything from “Spain is incredible” to “there are no startups in Spain.” In our case we are trying to push the second line, and make sure people see that. Anytime anyone makes an investment in a Spanish startup I am telling everyone about it, pushing it out in Twitter and everything to say great job.

What general advice would you give to IE students wishing to start their own company?

They should look at their entrepreneurial experience as a journey. They should experiment with entrepreneurship here at business school, but their idea does not have to be the thing that takes off. They should find a crazy idea that enables them to come into contact with interesting people and use it as a learning and experimentation opportunity. There are a lot of things that you can have fun with that do not have consequences as they would outside business school. In the real world when you have employees and the rent to pay, you cannot do that. The company you setup should try to be as out there as possible so you get the learning from it; after your MBA you can go setup a new company based on all the learnings you had. The idea that you pursue here is not your only chance. I think we are all born entrepreneurs, we just do not have it fully realized. Try to discover the area of entrepreneurship that you resonate with. The feeling of having created something successful that you were a part of, and having expressed yourself is an amazing feeling of fulfillment. Make sure that the people making up your team are as different from you as possible, embrace the diversity. Once you see what is possible from other points of view, you realize how much you are limiting yourself. It is easy just to get another guy same as yourself, and you get along well telling each other jokes, but there is no learning and at the end you sit around wondering why you did not get very far. Innovation happens at the margins, and when you are forced to find unusual ways to do things through diversity or barriers, that is where the interesting learning happens and things advance.

The best help you can give to any entrepreneur is to use their product. Even after 6 startups, I still get endorphins every time that someone spends their hard earned money on something I´ve worked to create. Others get their rush from fast cars or fine dining, but for me its still an unbelievable thrill when I hear the bing, bing, bing of bookings coming in. So if you´ve liked this interview, go now to hot.co.uk, download the Hot Hotels app and stay in the hotel you have always wanted to at less than half the price. What are you waiting for?


photo 5First part of the interview between current IMBA student Jacob Huber and Joe Haslam, founder of the startup Hot Hotels.

Tell me about Hot Hotels?

Hot Hotels is Europe’s leading mobile-only same day hotel booking app. We are in 52 countries and 310 cities, two years old and based in Spain. We have four founders, two Spanish and two Irish. We have just raised a €1 million in a round led by venture capital firm Axon Partners and are using this to expand the company.

What advantage do you have over your main competitors?

Hotel Tonight, our best known competitor, is more focused on a premium experience in a way that we are not. They sell a lot more hotels in premium locations like Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, etc. We are more interested in volume, selling hotels in Timisoara, Romania and as well as in cities in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia & Latin America. Hotel Tonight deliver a beautiful experience with $300 hotel rooms available for $150, whereas our sweetspot is more to sell €150 hotel rooms for €80.

There are good times and bad times in entrepreneurship. What was your most difficult moment and how did you deal with it?

I do not really think about that. The thing about entrepreneurship is that you have the control to solve your own problems. The worst feeling is one of helplessness, in other words you want to solve the problem but your “idiot boss” does not understand and is in your way. Most of entrepreneurship is aspirational, you are trying to make really cool stuff happen so if it does not happen, it is not the end of the world. The really depressing thing is if you are trying to make something inconsequential happen and it does not happen. I would say that it is OK if a supermodel turns you down, because she is a supermodel. If someone says no when you are asking for €1 million its OK because you are asking for €1 million but if you are asking for 50k and someone says no, that is depressing.

In entrepreneurship you are fighting for something substantial, and you are expecting a lot of no’s to begin with. Too many people in life are trained to not aspire for very much, and when we do not get that not very much we are depressed about it or we feel a sense of failure. Getting no’s is like diving for a penalty in football, you will dive nine times and that’s OK because the one time you dive and get it makes it worth it. Low moments are when someone you trusted lets you down, no one likes that. So far though I have never had anything like that happen to me. No one is standing in your way in entrepreneurship, and that is why you should do it for some time. You are not limited in the way you are in corporate environments, you never have a chance to be all you can be.

Can you explain where the idea for Hot Hotels came from?

Both me and and Conor O’Connor (CEO of Hot Hotels)  started companies during the dotcom time so we had seen a moment in history where disruptors have more advantages than established companies. We started to see signs of what happened then happen again with mobile and social media. Social media has drastically reduced the cost of marketing, back in Dotcom time you had to buy ads in magazine and newspaper. Also, Amazon Web Services in particular and Gigas here in Spain have reduced the cost of technology infrastructure, previously you had to build your own web center. Mobile is also ubiquitous now, people can make a booking everywhere with their own personal device. You are probably only around your computer around eight hours a day, whereas you have your mobile on you all the time. When you have something with you all the time it dramatically increases the chance that you make a booking or take greater part in e-commerce. We saw these trends and we were ourselves frustrated with the hotel booking experience; we knew that it was possible to do something better and so we did.

…..to be continued!!!!


IKEA at IE, and IE at IKEA: International MBA Challenge Week

Written on June 30, 2014 by IMBA News in News

This post first appeared on the IE Alumni News Blog.

This past May, 350 International MBA Students dedicated a week of their studies to help IKEA address the following challenge: What should IKEA change in order to become a more customer focused company?

Aside from IKEA being a successful multinational company that students can identify with, the highlight of the collaboration was to have two IE Business School Alumni dedicated to the development of the Challenge Week. Ramón Ramos (MBA, 1989) & Eric van der Does (MBA, 2000) were approached by the International MBA Team about a potential collaboration and, as they are both dedicated to improving the customer experience, were eager to tap into the talent pool of IE. The week was a great success, in that students had the opportunity to get out of the classroom to work on a real-life opportunity and IKEA was presented with out-of-the-box ideas from 54 different groups. In fact, the week was so successful that select students will continue to work with IKEA in the development of implementation strategies. Challenge Week forms part of the International MBA curriculum, where on two occasions during the their studies students are dedicated solely to the development of solutions to an opportunity presented by a company. This unique aspect of the curriculum helps to set IE apart from other top schools, as rarely do students (let alone 350) have the opportunity to showcase their talents in a project developed exclusively for their school by a top company.


Never Empty a featured start-up for the IMBA Challenge Week

Written on June 25, 2014 by IMBA News in News

Interview by Jacob Huber (current IMBA) and Matan Ganani (Founder of Never Empty)

Can you tell me a bit aMatan Neven Emptybout what Never Empty is, and how it works?

“Unlike other ticket distributors we are not a secondary market. There are a lot of companies today with algorithms that search online for tickets, while we work directly with football clubs. A week to two weeks before a game we put up one or several auctions (for different ticket classes). Customers go into the app and choose which type of ticket they want to bid on, how many and how much they are willing to pay and secure their bid with a payment method. As soon as they do that the bid is registered and the team has access to a backend showing them the bids occurring in real time. About 24 hours before the match, when they know how many empty seats they will have, they determine a minimum price and whoever bid above this gets their credit card charged and an email saying they won the bid. Our system auto arranges the bids according to the quality of the seats, so if you bid 30 and I bid 25, you are going to get a better seat than me, and we are charged what we bid. We simply provide the club with a list of bids and people who want to go to the game and are willing to pay for it. The payment info is already attached and with the click of a button they can sell as many extra seats as they wish.”



Let’s rewind a bit, can you give me an idea of how this idea started?

“Venture Lab was coming up and I really wanted to do it. I was not planning on becoming an entrepreneur, I was actually applying for McKinsey, BCG and those types of places. My brother works for Goldman Sachs New York and I was talking to him, telling about Venture Lab, where you get 4 – 6 months to actually work on a company. My brother introduced me to a problem: anytime there is a big artist coming to New York tickets sell out in a few minutes and the only option to get tickets is through StubHub or another secondary ticket market. These tickets would normally be priced around 400% higher than retail value and although he would not mind paying these prices, the difference should go to the venue, not Stubhub. He said there should be some kind of auctioning platform put into place where people would pay the market price of the ticket and that is the origination of the idea. I started going deeper into that and realized from day one we would be going head to head with Ticketmaster, not something that you want to do as a startup. We started to look at it the other way, targeting the teams that are not able to fill up their venues with the same auctioning method so we could fly under the radar. Our strategy was to show that the platform works with these clubs, that we are able to raise attendance, and then maybe we will be able to get to the point where some team will use us for the sold-out venues as well.”


What is your background? Was this a completely new area for you?

“I have always been a sports fan, but this was completely new. I studied Law and Political Science and worked in the private education industry teaching GMAT and SAT prep for a few years. I also worked at a law firm (Goldfarb Seligman & Co Israels largest corporate law firm), so this was a completely new area for me. Working with my own startup is by far the best job I could ever have. From day one of Venture Lab, myself and my cofounder (Laurent Chabbal)took it very seriously. Many times during Venture Lab there are all sorts of deliverables that you are supposed to hand in designed to facilitate your way though it, but they may not be what you really want to focus on if you are actually in the process of building a company. We would always take the road of lets do whatever we can to make this ready this investor-ready.We had the luck of having one person with whom I was put in contact with very early in Venture Lab, an angel investor based in the US, and he mentored us through this whole process. We started going out meeting people in football clubs and in the industry about midway though Venture Lab although we had nothing in terms of tech yet, just a super basic prototype to show what we planned. Through this we began to realize that our idea had potential. After completing the MBA we said we would allocate three months to try to get funds and see what happens, and we were lucky enough to raise a pretty good seed round.”


A lot of people doing the MBA want to start their own company, but are potentially in the situation where they will finish with a significant amount of debt. If they are bootstrapping, there is only a certain amount of time they can afford to burn savings, and money from friends/family/fools. You were lucky enough that you did not have to burn too much of your own savings working on your idea before you received investment?

 “Both of us finished the MBA with a lot of debt. I dont have any complaints, but I do not come from a super wealthy family and neither does Laurent and we knew we were going to have to start paying back debt a few months after the MBA. I actually took out an additional loan just to be able to maintain the three months after the MBA, but it was very clear to us that we were going to have to raise enough money so that we could also take a salary in the company, not your Goldman Sachs salary, but something that would cover debt, plus rent, plus food. I have a baby and a wife, so this was very important.”

So how long was the actual period you had to live off this additional loan?

“We graduated end of May and I had a Skype with the angel who had been mentoring us and he said Alright Matan, lets make a deal. I will write you a check for $250,000 if you are able to get another $250,000 investor. We were lucky because the hardest investor to find is always the first, just like any other person they are more likely to follow than lead. Being able to sit down and say we already have a commitment for $250,000 is completely different conversation. We started reaching out to even more to investors than before, trying to reach anybody in our networks who may know someone that may know someone who could help us out. We put together a very good looking investor deck, talking about what we planned to do, financials, all that is required. We finally closed the round in mid August, so it took us around three months. Having this angel until now is unbelievable, he is someone who invested in more than ten companies and the experience he has is invaluable. We received the money from three US investors, two Israeli and two French. Ever since then, we have gotten some money from the same guys and from a Spanish investment agency. At that point, we were able to start paying ourselves enough to cover the debt, rent, take care of our families, etc.”


How do think that the experience at IE helped you in starting your own business?

“The best thing about IE is that it opens your mind. Each student comes with his own vision, what a career or life are supposed to look like, but then you come to IE and meet so many people and hear about jobs and industries that you never even thought about, opening your mind completely. At the end of the day, everybody wants to work on something they are passionate about and I would say that probably 99% of people dont get to. I felt like life was handing me the opportunity to turn my hobby and passion into a profession.”

What would be your advice to students coming to IE and want to start their own business?

 “Start working on it from day one. Start really focusing because in the startup world you must make your idea investor readywhich usually means having some sort of minimal viable product. Try to graduate being able to answer the basic questions: why would somebody want this product, who would want it, who would be willing to pay for it. Do everything you can during your studies to accomplish that using what you have here, your peers or your friends. I am trying to avoid the word networkingbecause it is such an overused word and, to me at least, it has a very strong negative connotation. You see this in the startup industry where everyone is looking for financing and people take the term of networking to a very interest-based meaning.”

I think something that is not taught enough in the MBA is the value of being just a genuinely good person. You see all these people who have a manual of how to networkand say I will go to this event, and I will go talk to this person because this person is CEO of this company.They turn this networking or making connections thing into an algorithm and completely lose sight of simply being a good human being and building genuine relationships. If you take that into the MBA context, then you typically have cutthroat people in class who would not share class notes or help anyone, because they want to be the straight A student. What they do not realize is that their friends who are sitting in their class could probably help them a lot more than that Athey are going to get.

I am thinking back to my class, and some of the strongest students we had are still looking for a job now, with their incredible straight A GPA, just because nobody is willing to help them. It is something that is difficult to teach, but I think that something should be said about camaraderie, just being there for people. It just amazes me that most people just do not understand this and that most people do not have these values. This is also something important in the startup world, but also as a general life philosophy. The startup community is very small, because at the end of the day startups and founders hear about each other. For those that do manage to get into this world, try to help the people around you as much as possible. First of all because it is the right thing to do and secondly because you are going to be looking for money or users, or general tips that could help you at a later stage.  

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