The Escape Confinement Hackathon

Although the halls and classrooms of IESE have become empty over the last month, and students have spread around all corners of the globe, the IESE spirit of service continues to live strong within its students, teachers and staff. Inspired by this vision, the Start-up and Entrepreneurship Club, looking out for its members and holding tight to every entrepreneur’s mantra that in every problem there lies an opportunity, put together the first ever 100% online IESE Hackathon. The theme of the event naturally was:

Develop a new business idea pertaining to home goods and services in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

S&E Club President Robert Ralph (MBA 21) revealed what they had in mind while brainstorming for the event, “At the S&E Club we have been doing our best to respond to the lockdown measures in Barcelona, but I have to admit that it has been a careful balance to strike. On one hand, we want to offer programming to our members that is engaging and can enhance their entrepreneurial experience at IESE, but we also didn’t want to overload people with any sort of pressure at a time of such uncertainty.

In that regard, we feel like we found a great middle-ground with the Escape Confinement Hackathon, which was a short, intense opportunity for people to get their entrepreneurial juices flowing over a just a couple days. Students could temporarily block out the rest of the world’s uncertainty without feeling like they had to commit to anything long-term over such an uncertain period.”

Ricardo Zulueta (MBA 21), Club VP and the person who ideated the event added, “In these hard times we thought it was important as an entrepreneurship club to find a way to 1) Keep our colleagues busy through long days of confinement, and 2) Bring our knowledge together to solve some of the new issues that have arisen through this COVID-19 pandemic. We felt a Startup Hackathon was the best way to do this.

It was an intense two-day event where 16 teams of 2-3 people ideated, built business models, tested hypotheses, and prepared their pitches for an elite panel of judges, while at the same time internally transforming their perspective from being victims of a global hazard into protagonists of new solutions. The event proved to be a big hit amongst IESE students and even the community around them.

Ricardo commented, “The response from students was amazing, we got teams from the MBA program, Executive MBA, Global Executive MBA, partners, alumni, and even people beyond the IESE community. I think everybody really understood the importance of building new business solutions to address some of the new challenges created by this health pandemic.

While we didn’t have much time to organize the event, we had some great people that were willing to help and were able to create a truly unique experience in a super short timeframe. We were able to bring together an outstanding group of mentors and judges from the startup ecosystem who shared their expertise with us: Luis Martin Cabiedes, Professor Mª Julia Prats, Professor Antonio Davila, Assoc.. Professor Thomas Maximilian Klueter, Mathieu Carenzo, Josemaria Siota, Paula Sancho, and Yahel Halamish.”

Robert shared his feedback, “We were extremely pleased with the outcome, with 16 presentations on rapid-fire over a 2 hour judging period. It was incredible to see all that students had put together in such a short time, and is indicative of all the entrepreneurial talent housed at IESE. That statement doesn’t only come from me as the President of the S&E Club, but from the very high-profile group of investors and professors we had judging the competition. While it was not the explicit goal of the Hackathon, we hope and have reason to believe that many students will continue to run with those ideas, potentially during IESE’s Summer Entrepreneurship Experience.”

Some of these ideas are already developing fast! Ricardo himself landed a 3rd place in the competition with his idea of a remote museum tour solution to keep guides and museums earning revenue, and has his MVP fully functioning ( Another participant team in the competition also has an MVP website up ( and we can expect a lot more to be developed over the coming months.

Ah Pede – our solution for C2C food delivery for informal workers

I am also excited to share that my colleague Bryce Caster (MBA 21) & I succeeded in reaching the podium, snagging  first place in this competition with a business solution for street food vendors in Brazil to keep on selling in a post-COVID world. Thinking about how life may change after this period passes and what problems (opportunities!) will arise is key for everyone’s well-being, and I believe it is especially important to take into consideration those who have the least resources available to them when ideating the future. I am really grateful for the opportunity to participate and to have worked with Bryce in this competition.

Because of these factors, it has been both a privilege and an honour to take part in this event. To me, it exemplifies how the IESE school spirit is a lot more than mottos and words written on the walls but a driving force of growth, change, and care present amongst many of its students.

On behalf of all participants, I express our gratitude towards Luca Venza (Director of Technology Innovation), and the S&E team Robert Ralph, Emilie Mendes de Leon, Ricardo Zulueta and Cody Brasel for organizing. Special thanks to our mentors and judges: Luis Martin Cabiedes, Mª Julia Prats, Antonio Davila, Thomas Maximilian Klueter, Mathieu Carenzo, Josemaria Siota, Paula Sancho, Yahel Halamish.

Watch this space next year for more to come!

Congratulations to all the winning teams!


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Lucas Barreto View more

Born in Rio de Janeiro - Brazil but lived in the USA, France, and the UK.
Studied mechanical engineering, and worked in R&D while playing in a samba group. I greatly value spirit of service and personal relations, and want to integrate these values into my post-MBA job as most as possible.

MBA Class of 2021

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