The Secrets Of Success: Where Do MBA Entrepreneurs Find Inspiration?
From fragile teenager skin to natural disasters, MBA entrepreneurs find their ideas in the strangest of places and ways. But what are the secrets behind their inspiration?
MBA students are always searching for the next big idea. Today it is much more exciting to create your own job than follow the corporate track.
Entrepreneurs find inspiration in the strangest of places; geek folklore says Twitter’s Jack Dorsey happened upon his multi-billion-dollar idea while in a café near a children’s playground in San Francisco’s South Park.
But the trick is to develop your concept, come up with another idea and repeat. The best businesses are the ones that are able to “pivot” – when an entrepreneur changes strategy. For some it is adapt or die. But we asked some of the most successful - and some of the newest - MBA entrepreneurs to share their secrets of new thinking.
France-based up-starter Samuel Edouard conjured her cosmetics idea while in high school in the United States. She was in desperation; as a teenager she suffered from terrible skin. After burning through all the creams, mousses and moisturisers on the high-street with little change, she decided to develop her own.
“I focused on health, and more natural face-masks and ingredients,” she said. Sam used to spend summers away from Miami at her family’s farm in Haiti, learning about local vegetables and fruits. It became a hobby that she enjoyed. “I thought, why not just open up a business?” Sam added.
She launched Bote Natire, based in Haiti, in 2009. She sold body butters, facial locations, facial scrubs and face washes. After graduating from her current MBA at Grenoble Ecole de Management, she plans to expand into New York or London.
Others find inspiration later in life. Emiliano Luzzi, co-founder of shipping business LetsCargo, found his golden idea in the classroom. He was studying logistics figures and realized that European trucks have less than 60% of their loads full.
But the business, launched with six other co-founders from IE Business School in Spain, has had to evolve. “We’ve changed the idea a couple of times and added more features,” said Emiliano.
Kelsey Julius, a Hult Prize finalist, also found fortune in research. The HEC Paris MBA student will hope her idea for Bee Healthy, a healthcare business, can bank Hult's $1 million prize.
Kelsey’s team stumbled upon the idea while scanning internet articles on low-tech ways to diagnose diseases. “We even saw an article about using dogs to sniff out cancer,” she said. The Bee idea came up in a team meeting and evolved from there.
Many more entrepreneurs find inspiration while on campus. Ramanan Krishnamoorthy developed his start-up idea after handing in a business plan as part of an MBA assignment at AGSM in Sydney. The CEO of NovelTea Pty Ltd actually flunked the course. “If we can’t even ace the class, how can we expect to run a business?” he said.
His start-up, which sells tea-infused vodka on the Australian market, draws inspiration from Ram’s family. They have a tea plantation which his father founded in Sri Lanka, where he spent time working as a youngster.
After a stint in investment banking, he got sick of making money for someone else. “I thought: why not do something I’m passionate about?” added Ram.
Ditching The Corporate Track
Other entrepreneurs have also found rich ideas after leaving the corporate world. When Simon Hague sat in on an organizational behaviour lecture at Aston Business School, the MBA student realized the key topic of motivation is what makes businesses successful.
A few years down the line, his business coaching start-up Wheresmylunch Ltd was secure enough for him to launch a second, Think Share Create Ltd, which tries to help people collaborate through workshops and seminars. “I had managed to motivate people to work harder and get stuff done. I thought: if that has been successful, why not turn it into a career?” said Simon.
Tracking The Market Leaders
Drawing inspiration from other successful start-ups was Euclides Major’s preferred method. The IE MBA graduate founded mobile app company MYGON after tracking deals provider Groupon’s progress on the NASDAQ stock market. “We tried to take the best parts [of the discount concept] in terms of daily deals together with mobile technology,” he said.
The start-up raised about €550,000 through a seed-round of funding, and today has more than 150,000 users.
Ashuveen Bhadal, co-founder of mobile app start-up Drinqsmart Ltd, says she was inspired by her parents, whom are also entrepreneurs.
The Cass Business School EMBA graduate launched her company, which allows users to find venue promotions via geo-location technology, earlier this year.
“My parents had a manufacturing business for about 15 years. So I’ve seen throughout my whole childhood what it means to be in a business, all the passion that’s required,” she said. Ashuveen added that she has “seen the highs and the lows, and it’s been in me to at least try” and run her own company.
Finding Fortune In Chaos
Justin Garrido launched his social impact start-up after dropping a career with German supermarket giant Aldi. The company, which he set-up after studying an MBA at Melbourne Business School, builds shelters for those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. He plans to provide 100,000 shelters to survivors over the next two years.
After seeing the social challenges and poverty in the Philippines, it “really struck me hard. There is a greater discrepancy between rich and poor”. The idea for Social Project.PH arose during a volunteering effort at a soup kitchen in Rogers Park, Chicago.
Now a fully-fledged social entrepreneur, Justin saw tremendous opportunities to do good. “I was inspired by the Filipino social enterprises, which were doing amazing things and empowering the poor as partners,” he said.
Divya Dhar, who started her career as a practicing doctor in New Zealand, is preparing to launch a medical communications mobile app called Seratis. Divya, who graduated from Wharton's MBA program, aims to improve communications between hospital staff, and ultimately improve patient care.
“Often I had no idea how to communicate with my patients,” she said. “We are trying to solve that problem – in real time, so any of the team members can coordinate care on behalf of the patient.”
It often takes a long time to get a medical-related product into market. “[But] they recognize they’re slow, inefficient; there was an inner desire to make their work more efficient,” said Divya.
She added: “I can’t imagine any doctor saying this problem doesn’t need solving.”