Each summer IESE offers the Summer Entrepreneurship Experience (S.E.E.), a unique alternative to a traditional corporate internship allowing entrepreneurially-minded students to test the entrepreneurial career path and develop their own startup project through a full-time, practical, team-based program.
During the S.E.E., students immerse themselves in their own idea-stage startup for 10 weeks, and by the end of the summer, each one should understand if an entrepreneurial career path is a good fit for them personally and if their startup idea is worth pursuing.
S.E.E participants have diverse backgrounds, some have a very clear idea of pursuing entrepreneurship from the start and others discover it along the way. We asked two of last year’s S.E.E. participants and an alumnus from several years ago to describe their path through the program and its continued impact on their career.
Full-time MBA Candidate, Class of 2020
Since my post MBA career plan is to return to my home country in Chile to work for our family business, I wanted to do something unique for my summer internship. With my family, we decided that staying in Barcelona for the summer was the priority. With that in mind, I was exploring the idea of getting an internship at a restaurant chain to get fresh ideas and knowledge on how to improve and grow our business back home.
In the middle of this search, I was invited by two classmates, Agustin and Daniel to hear their idea for S.E.E. I was already familiar with this program since my brother Claudio, also an IESE alumni from Class of 2016, had participated in it. To be honest, at that point I wasn’t convinced about their idea but I had a good impression of S.E.E and I liked the mentors and professors involved – Luis Cabiedes, entrepreneurship professor and a successful venture capitalist and Mauricio Prieto, Co-founder of Edreams.
After a couple of days of consideration, I accepted their invitation and with the addition of Javier, we completed our team. The next step was to meet before the program started to brainstorm new business ideas and that’s how we came out with MedicaJusto, an online price comparison tool for medicines in the Mexican market. The first thing we realized is that our initial idea was super complex to build (Tip: always have a technical guy in the team!). We ended up spending a lot of time building an MVP that nobody really needed or wanted. Nonetheless, we got interesting insights about the real pain points some people had – which was scarcity of some recurrent medicines and lack of good service in the industry. That’s when we pivoted from our initial idea to a new business plan for an online pharmacy for chronic disease medications.
During the programs we had the opportunity to listen some experts in their fields, from learning how to bootstrap your project to the basic legal framework you may want to consider if carrying on with your project in the future. It would be unfair not to mention our classmates and how much we learnt listening to these super diverse teams, their weekly updates and interesting projects – from spiritual retreats in Costa Brava to a social location app.
Overall the S.E.E was a great choice for my summer. I’m sure I’m going to have plenty of opportunities to try some of the key learning points in new projects back home, especially helping me to push innovation within our company. On top of that, the results of MedicaJusto were promising! We finished the summer with 10 subscribers and more than 2000 visitors to our website.
Full-time MBA Candidate, Class of 2020
Truth is I never wanted to be an entrepreneur. Actually, I was on the other extreme – corporate world has enticed me with its security, promotion possibilities and status. However, through my travels before the MBA I was inspired with a business idea that I felt very passionate about. Passion that I have never felt working in corporate finance. The idea was to start organizing my own spiritual retreats focused on inner healing and well-being. My vision was grand – to purchase my own land and build an “out of this world resort” to host these experiences.
Using the MBA journey to set things in motion, I have decided to join the S.E.E. Throughout the program and with the help of an amazing “board of directors” we have developed an MVP for my project, so the vision could turn into something real. My idea was to organize my very first pilot retreat in a rented house in Costa Brava. S.E.E helped me enormously to stay accountable and focused. The feedback I received during each Monday session was very relevant and challenged me in all the right ways.
And now it’s time to celebrate results – we have organized our first retreat, which was a success, people truly had a life changing experience. Most importantly, I can now officially say my work is my passion. Hence, I truly do not need to work a day of my life. And that’s a feeling worth every hour I will spend on it. Now tightening our seat-belts, we are moving into the future – doubling the capacity for our next retreat in January and partnering up with investors to build our own space. What a ride it will be – I am grateful I found the courage to take a chance on myself and use S.E.E to kick it off.
This summer was the most exciting summer of my life, and my biggest learning experience so far. I wanted to share with you my takeaways:
• Without passion for what you do, entrepreneurship can be “too hard” and too tiring
• Starting your own business is most probably the most creative and exciting thing you will ever do
• Freedom only comes with discipline – are you ready to keep yourself accountable?
• Designing product and experience might be easier than you think, however you most probably will under-estimate the amount of time you will spend getting your first customers
• Learn and grow, and be open to feedback, however always trust yourself and be confident in what you are creating. If you don’t even believe it yourself, you will have a hard time getting others to believe in it
• Use the resources you have around you – professors, SEE, acquaintances, fellow entrepreneurs. Learn from them
• Choose your partners carefully – and its still very probable your initial team setup will change. Better sooner than later
• Female entrepreneurs – it’s time for us to rise up – I believe we bring unique gifts to the business world – and our ideas should not die due to a fear of failure. Trust yourselves!
IESE MBA Class of 2016
General Manager, Newline Center
I came to IESE with the clear objective of becoming an entrepreneur. I saw the MBA as the best and fastest way to acquire the business knowledge that I was lacking, being a law graduate and having no entrepreneurs in my family. Given my objective, it made complete sense for me to do the S.E,E instead of an internship. My project, which I carried out with another classmate with a finance background, was to launch an app for finding gigs by emerging DJs around you. We worked on the idea all summer under the guidance of Prof. Hakan Ener and Prof. Luis Cabiedes, one of the most successful angel investors in Spain.
It was my first real entrepreneurial experience and it proved extremely valuable. We learnt a lot about launching a company in the digital world, such as how to assess the presence of competition as well as the direction of the market. We learnt the importance of having direct contact with the customers. We interviewed them on the field, trying to understand if the product that we had in mind would be able to fulfil their needs and then modifying the product according to our new discoveries. I would say that going on the street and taking the project from our “dream world” to the scrutiny of potential users was indeed the most challenging experience of all as well as the most useful.
That particular project did not continue after the summer due to the sudden market entry of a huge competitor. However, I was able to apply what I learnt during S.E.E in my new company Newline Center after graduation. Together with some local and well-known psychiatrists, I imported to Spain an innovative and highly effective treatment for drug addiction, involving the use of brain stimulation techniques. We had developed a franchise model, so my customers are basically other psychiatrists. We provided the medical equipment to them as they possessed the medical know-how necessary to apply the treatment as well as the marketing services to attract patients to their clinics. At the beginning it was vital talking to as many psychiatrists as possible to understand how to turn their needs into a business model. Luckily, I could count on the skills I developed during SEE to accomplish that.
Apart from S.E.E, I found the open door policy of the IESE faculty and alumni to be extremely helpful. Being able, even after the MBA, to ask for business advice from extremely qualified and professional IESE professors is priceless and I feel it already contributed to the success of my company.
IESE was the first business school in Europe to formally teach entrepreneurship, starting back in the 1970s, and we’ve been at it ever since. We strive to offer a robust ecosystem of support to our students and alumni, and the S.E.E. can be the perfect option for the right type of student.
If you’re curious and would like to learn more, please connect with Eddy Zakes, Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center. Or, if you are a current student, consider joining the S.E.E. this year and put your entrepreneurial skills and ideas to the test. The S.E.E. application process will kick-off in early 2020.
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