“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
The IMD MBA program has taken this quote by Albert Einstein to new heights by blending in a real-time startup experience as a part of the Entrepreneurship stream.
It all started with Professor Benoit Leleux introducing 20 exciting startups to our IMD MBA class. Our objective – to deliver practical, operational value-add to these startups over the course of three months.
Among the projects was aOrion aero. This incredibly interesting startup provides drones as a service for industries such as law enforcement, forestry, and energy. Being a Commercial airline pilot, I was immediately attracted to the Aerotech centered startup.
Soon I met my team:
- Bavly Obaid – a British Strategy Consultant
- Wei Shi – a Chinese Tech Engineer
- Shimpei Fukagai – a Japanese Finance specialist and
- Svyatoslav Khalatov – a Russian Engineer with a background in geophysics.
While we have five wildly different backgrounds, we are united in our passion for this exciting new space.
We met the joint CEO of the startup over Zoom, along with our project coach, Professor Ralf Siefert. We were amazed by the level of technology in these powerful drones and their numerous use cases worldwide. The startup has Russian roots and, in an effort to extend its reach beyond the CIS, recently established its HQ in Lausanne. aOrion’s senior leaders approached IMD through the renowned yearly startup competition held by the school.
Having raised a surprising amount of capital over a short period of time, aOrion is looking to expand aggressively in the EU. They have a very versatile product that has incredible specs and clear value propositions. However, as we dove into the industry analysis, we realized that we needed to be more diligent in forming an in-depth understanding of the company, its goals, and its challenges than initially anticipated. All this while keeping in mind the words of Professor Benoit, “It is very likely the main problem lies behind the perceived problem.”
Building bonds on a personal level
To dig deeper, we organized a face-to-face with Evgeny Bazarov, the joint CEO of the startup. We realized that meeting him over a drink was the most effective way to get to know him personally, and to learn about the company. The rapport we developed with Evgeny gave us deeper insights into the challenges of the business. It also gave us more clarity on how to approach this project.
The coming months will be challenging. Balancing the MBA workload with the startup project will require a keen focus on time management. However, armed with the tools provided by the program, we are confident that we will be able to deliver tangible value to aOrion.
As we become more deeply involved in the startup, the key takeaway for my team so far is inspired by a quote from the Wright brothers:
If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advanceThe Wright brothers
Shivam Chandra, on behalf of the IMD aOrion team, Bavly Obaid, Svyatoslav Khalatov, Shimpei Fukagai, and Wei Shi.