MBAs have been honing their final startup presentations for the founders of their allocated company and a jury of venture capitalists.

As the summer comes around to close the first quarter of 2023, the MBA cohort crossed another milestone by completing the startup project. Three months of preparation culminated in a tense two days of presentations to founders and a jury of esteemed venture capitalists. Finally, all those hours of interviews, data collection, and deck building would translate into tangible assets that we could give the entrepreneurs. These tools and strategies were not easy, but the time and effort spent on them was a unique learning experience about the startup world that our class will never forget.

Brainstorming session in one of the MBA study rooms. Photo ©Mark Henley/IMD

I learned plenty about entrepreneurship through the cases and guest speakers introduced to us by Professor Benoit Leleux, but working firsthand with real-world companies provided an opportunity to see the ins and outs of what makes a startup tick.

Each startup had its own set of priorities and timelines. Some of us were working on redesigning financial models while others, including my team, worked on go-to-market strategies and CO2 calculations.

Classmate Venice Lau, sharing her ideas on the whiteboard. Photo ©Mark Henley/IMD

“Part of the learning process was giving our best efforts to give quality deliverables while also managing the expectations of our founders given that we were juggling work for them with all the other requirements of our MBA,” Time management and team dynamics were extremely important keys to success,” said Juan Carrillo, my teammate in working for craftt during the startup project.

The rest of the class played an integral part in the startup project as well. It was common to have cohorts ask you to share their surveys with your network back home or refer them to an expert from your industry. The ability to collect data and interviews from all around the world is one of the many advantages of having such a globally diverse class. There was a strong feeling of support and wanting each other to succeed.

The pressure built as presentation day drew near. People worked over the Easter break to make sure they had all their bases covered and that their deliverables were up to IMD standards. That meant quadruple-checking computations, following up on interviews, and finalizing presentation structures. Everyone wanted to make sure that their startups had something tangible they could use to add value to their businesses. We also wanted to clearly express the value of what we learned from working with these businesses to Professor Benoit and the panel of VCs. Each group was sent off to their presentations with waves of good wishes and met with congratulations upon finishing.

Rasheed Alrasheed and Ernesto Kling crunching the numbers. Photo ©Mark Henley/IMD

Overall, the startup project was a challenging and exciting practical application of the lessons we learned in our classes, especially entrepreneurship. More than that, it was a deep look into the minds of real entrepreneurs building companies in Switzerland. Now that our time with the startups has come to an end, I look forward to new challenges coming in the MBA program with new ideas and experiences from this project to aid me.

By guest writer: Claudio Lopa

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