One of the most eagerly anticipated moments in the life of an IMD MBA is the first meeting with the start-up. The start-up project at IMD is a unique opportunity for MBAs to work closely with start-ups and apply classroom learnings to solve real-world problems.
On the 30th of January, after class, we walked down to the “dungeons” (study rooms) to meet our start-up founders. The founders Jon Armstrong and Craig Dawson, former partners at IBM, have in Changeway® developed a unique platform for enterprise change management fit for today’s virtual and distributed organisations. As Jon and Craig were walking us through their solution, each one of us, despite coming from different countries and diverse industries and functions, could relate to the platform and recognised the need for it. The primary purpose of Changeway® is to become the foundation of any continuous improvement journey. Through digital workshops, facilitator preparation, inbuilt Continuous Improvement methodologies, remote collaboration and real time tracking, the platform ensures that “change champions” do not lose sight of the goal and the project does not fall through the cracks.
Working with a start-up is different from working with mature organisations. Previously, we have been working in fairly well-defined roles and with a defined scope – many of us we were accustomed to “working with a brief”. In contrast, here we put ourselves in the shoes of the start-up founders and try to do as much to help the business scale and succeed, given the time that we have. The experience is as much about developing a strong bond with the team as it is about helping the start-up progress and succeed. In the last few weeks, we have started to understand different strengths and different pressure points of a team that is extremely diverse.
As part of the start-up project, we will work to take the product to market, establish product value and pricing, and develop a model to scale the business. Characteristic of the start-up project, we will go out into real world to understand the market, interview industry leaders face to face, pitch the product and ultimately create tangible value. At the end, we will present our contribution to a jury of Venture Capitalists and aim to complete the project on a high!