Archivo de la Categoría ‘Alumni stories’


Eniola Akinsete_blogI am a mother, wife and career woman. I am passionate about EVERYTHING that has to do with me. I am ambitious. I am determined (which explains why I left 3 kids and a husband in Nigeria to go to Spain for an MBA!!!). I hate defeat. I love quiet. I love loyalty. I hate deception. I am Eniola Akinsete, International MBA December 2013 graduate.

Going to IE was and is still a life changing experience for me. My 13 months on the program sharpened my existing knowledge areas, gave me additional latitude and depth in my business knowledge and empowered me for the next chapter of my life career and otherwise. I joined PwC Nigeria in January 2014 and I must confess that I marvel at how grown up I have become as a result of my IE experience in terms of business. I am better able to critically analyze situations and in turn realize more opportunities, insights than I did before the program. These days, for me, an idea, no matter how flimsy, always has something to give or something that can be gained. IE sharpened my skills such that even with my kids I am a better negotiator (more like a subtle dictator with the kids though!!!) at getting things achieved. 

The IE experience remains a priceless one to me. Not only did I gain a lifetime education, I learnt how to survive in the toughest of emotional situations, I made new friends that I still keep in touch. IE has given me some solid foundation for a new level and I have several cherished memories to keep me going for a long time to come.



Ugo Ogwo is currently the Head of Demand Forecasting for West Africa at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Consumer. In this role, she ensures Supply meets Demand for all product portfolios across all markets in West Africa. She has improved forecast accuracy from averages of 60s to very high 70s. She also acts as the hinge for new product launches and new market entries. Ugo received her Bachelor’s from the University of Nigeria Nsukka in Electrical Engineering and a Master in Telecommunications Engineering from the same university.

After her 7+ years career in the Telecommunication Industry, Ugo decided it was time for a change of Industry and enrolled in the International MBA program at IE Business School as a platform to initiate the switch and to broaden her business acumen with international perspective.

In addition to learning at IE, Ugo was actively involved with the IE Africa Club and was eventually elected the president of the club. During her tenure as president, she hosted the first Africa business event at IE which brought together Africa diplomatic community in Madrid as well as different stakeholders with business interest in Africa.

Her time at IE (April 2010 – May 2011)  was life transforming; to put it in her own words ‘‘IE changed my life; the ‘me’ that went to IE is different from me that returned’’. The experiences at IE including her Consulting Intern experience with Legal Resources Centre Johannesburg in South Africa were very instrumental in securing a place at GSK and have been of immense benefit as she settles and grows in the Fast Moving Consumer Health Care Industry.



Ajibade Oluwabiyi, from Nigeria, is IE International MBA 2009 alumnus.

I started out from the University of Lagos with a degree in Electrical Electronics Engineering but I always knew Entrepreneurship would be my final abode. I started my first venture in my 4th year at the University with my friend, where we provided Wireless Internet and Video on Demand solutions to estates and Hotels. This first venture failed in the business sense and this marked the beginning of a steep learning curve that would serve as invaluable lessons later in my entrepreneurial life. After my National Youth Service year, I took up a job with an IT firm and later went into the Oil and Gas Industry with one of the majors spending about 4 years with them. 

 Having spent all my life in Information Technology and realizing that I had a lot missing in me when it comes to business, I decided to apply for an MBA which eventually served as a 360 degree shift for me away from what I was used to. I applied and coupled with months of preparing for the GMAT and muliple essays and an interview, I got admitted to IE Business School where the next 13 months re-shaped my mind and helped re-organized my thinking. 

 Seating in a classroom, treating cases and meeting minds that were fully business oriented opened a new can of worms for me and the experience was exhilarating. IE Business School gave me not just an MBA but help build a network that I am still enjoying till today and will most likely enjoy forever. Meeting people from well over 60 countries from different backgrounds, orientations and view of life meant I became a much more exposed person and was a rich source of learning that I still enjoy till today. 

 After the 13 months coupled with my previous experiences and failures, I came to the conclusion that I was ready to take the plunge and went ahead and started my current Business – A metal recycling and Commodity Trading company. I am still running it and enjoying every bit of it!



IMG_8908Anna Kompaniyets (International MBA 2012) has been chosen as Women of the Month of July. Here’s her story:

As for many of us, the decision to do an MBA was a focal point to bring all that beautiful changes in my life which I experience right now. To IE I came from retail sector where I worked for Metro Cash & Carry as a PR manager. I remember 18th of May 2012, our graduation ceremony, many of my friends were coming back to their countries, some were eager to stay in Europe, and only me did not have a clear plan. Actually I did. It was the plan ¨not to come back to Ukraine, but to stay and look for a job in Spain¨ – quite ambitious, especially after the second wave of the crisis. I applied to all opportunities, but without EU visa it was very difficult to receive even first invitation for the interview. And then my MBA friend told me that Burger King is opening new division in EMEA and they are building up the team. I did my due diligence and reached the company. In 2 months I started in Burger King EMEA as Sr. Marketing Manager. With this new career step I changed the country, the sector, and the function. Don´t try to change all three, this is what we heard so many times. But this is what happened to me. During two years I was rotating through different marketing roles, being responsible for more than 15 international markets building and implementing data driven brand strategy.

And now is the time for the next move, just a month ago I started in NH Hotels as a Global B2C Customer Relations Manager. The role and industry is completely new for me but I feel very enthusiastic to take this challenge! This is a time in my career when I need more equilibrium between my professional and private life.

So… only 2 years passed after the graduation and now Madrid is my second home, my daughter speaks perfect Spanish, and I completely changed my career. I am very happy and feel that with an open mind, desire and trust, everything is possible.


Juan FernandezJuan Fernández Royo finalizó el Executive MBA de IE en Diciembre de 2012.  Tras 9 años de experiencia en Iluminación (Philips Lighting), Juan se ha unido a finales de Febrero de este año a Apple como su Comprador Estratégico Global de Iluminación para la División de Real Estate and Development. En este nuevo reto, Juan es el responsable a nivel mundial de la compra y negociación de la iluminación usada en la construcción de las Apple Store. Este puesto está basado en la central de Apple en Cupertino (Silicon Valley) dónde Juan se mudará muy pronto. Así que la siguiente vez que entréis en una Apple Store, no miréis solo los productos y mirad hacia arriba para ver la iluminación comprada por un alumni del IE. Juan ha trabajado previamente en otros lugares internacionalmente como 1 año en la Oficina Comercial de la Embajada de España en Corea del Sur y durante 6 años en China donde fue responsable de una oficina de compras de un Grupo de Iluminación. Juan habla fuido castellano, inglés y chino mandarín.

Juan Fernandez Royo graduated from the IE Execute MBA on December 2012. After 9 years of experience in Lighting (Philips Lighting), at the end of February of this year Juan has joined Apple as Global Commodity Manager for Lighting for the Real Estate and Development Division. In this new challenge, Juan is the worldwide responsible of purchasing and negotiating the lighting used to build the Apple Stores. This position is based at Apple Headquarters in Cupertino (Silicon Valley) where Juan will move soon. So the next time you all enter an Apple Store, don’t only look at the products and look up to see the lighting sourced by an IE alumni. Juan has previous international assignments experience working for 1 year in the Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain in South Korea and during 6 years in China where he was responsible of a purchasing office for a Lighting Group. Juan can speak fluently in Spanish, English and Mandarin.


Miguel_angel_martinez-blazquezMiguel Ángel Martinez Blázquez, comenzará una nueva etapa profesional tras la culminación del Executive Master in Finance hace un par de días. En agosto entrará a formar parte de Ferrovial como Controller en el departamento de Financial Planning and Analysis. A lo largo de sus diez años de carrera profesional siempre había desempeñado funciones relacionadas con la auditoría/consultoría, consolidación y reporting financiero en multinacionales de prestigio. A través del máster destaca haber adquirido no sólo el refuerzo en la rama contable, financiera y de control de gestión, sino también ha tenido la oportunidad de desarrollar habilidades directivas en el trabajo diario que conlleva hacer un máster en IE.

Miguel Ángel Martinez Blázquez, will start a new stage in his career after completing the Executive Master in Finance a couple of days ago. In August, he will be joining Ferrovial as Controller in the Department of Financial Planning and Analysis. Throughout his ten years of experience he had always performed functions relating to the audit / consulting, financial consolidation and reporting in multinationals. Through the master he admits to have not only reinforced his knowledge in accounting, financial and management control branch, but also had the opportunity to develop leadership skills in the daily work involved in doing a masters at IE.


¡Enhorabuena a Juan y Miguel Ángel! ¡Os deseamos mucho éxito en vuestras nuevas asignaciones!

Congratulations Juan and Miguel Ángel! We wish you success in your new positions!



Jose MiguelBayonasJosé Miguel de las Bayonas ha sido elegido hoy como nuevo presidente de la Asociación de Jóvenes Empresarios de la Región de Murcia. Así lo ha decidido la asamblea general de AJE que ha ratificado a la candidatura presentada. De las Bayonas, que ocupaba la Tesorería de la Asociación, sustituye en el cargo a Andrés Romero. “Trabajo todos los días para ser libre, porque ser libre es no depender de nadie. Tener una AJE más participativa e influyente es mi objetivo principal, porque creo que es la mejor manera de defender la libertad de todos los Jóvenes empresarios de la Región de Murcia”, ha explicado José Miguel de las Bayonas. La nueva comisión ejecutiva de la Asociación, elegida para los próximos tres años, la completarán Celedonio Perea y Manuel Clavel-Sainz como vicepresidentes, Sergio Franco como secretario general y Juan María Soler como tesorero. Jose Miguel de las Bayonas tiene 38 años y es experto en Gestión Empresarial. Master MBA por el IE Business School con Premio Extraordinario Lease Plan 2002. Fundador y Economista Socio de Avanza Corporate, ha desarrollado su carrera asesorando a empresarios sobre cómo mejorar la gestión de su empresa. Del mismo modo es socio de Quesos El Cabecico, cartonLAB, Mycompra y, donde ha participado en el lanzamiento y consolidación de dichas empresas. José Miguel de las Bayonas es actualmente Presidente del Club de Antiguos Alumnos del IE Business School en la Región de Murcia, y ha obtenido Premio Banespyme – Orange en el 2010. José Miguel reparte su día a día entre su pasión, que es resolver los problemas de “motor” de muchas empresas de la Región, y la gestión de las suyas propias.

¡Enhorabuena desde IE a José Miguel!

AJE – Murcia: Más de 400 asociados La Asociación de Jóvenes Empresarios de la Región de Murcia agrupa a alrededor de 400 empresarios de diversos sectores. Conscientes de las dificultades de iniciar y promover nuevos proyectos empresariales, AJE se configura como un foro donde multiplicar las oportunidades de negocio de los emprendedores y fomentar su preparación. A lo largo de 17 años, fue fundada en 1996, AJE ha promovido, entre otras actividades, reuniones profesionales con personalidades reconocidas de todos los ámbitos, jornadas formativas, programas de ayuda al emprendedor o diversas publicaciones empresariales, siempre con el objetivo de prestar un servicio a los jóvenes empresarios.


Building scalable technology startups

Escrito el 14 julio 2014 por Alumni en Alumni stories

by Samir Rath, FinTech Entrepreneur, Angel Investor. IE Brown alum class of 2013. Co- author of No Startup Hipsters: Build Scalable Technology Companies.

9022527137_30e74c6265The survival statistic of one out of ten technology startups making it has always bothered me. And this number gets much worse outside of established hubs like the United States, Canada and Israel. What this translates to for me, is that a lot of talented professionals spend the better part of three to five years living on minimum wages and sacrificing their personal lives but finishing up with only huge lost opportunities. My co-author arrived at the situation from a different history but similar motivations. After working in technology transfer for almost a decade, supporting commercialization efforts of inventors and smaller technology companies of Bulgaria, she was confounded by the low rates of success achieved. She tried quite hard to figure out the contributing factors and see patterns, but failure seemed inevitable regardless of innovativeness, size and resources of the firms or tenacity of the inventors.

For the last three years we have been working on this problem through mentoring more than 50 startups from over 20 countries, both developed and emerging. The business models have spanned everything from cutting edge technology to provision of basic amenities. We found something broken in the formal ecosystem for innovation. A very linear process is being advocated to most entrepreneurs from the startup ecosystem – Pick the right team; quickly cobble together a minimum viable product; use customer feedback to improve or drop the product and shift to something else. Addressing a cohort of startups at accelerator Y Combinator, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Youve decided you want to start a company, but you dont know what youre passionate about yet.

Instead of this ego driven I have a great idea approach, we feel the first step should be to properly understand the dimensions of the problem that we are passionate about and are trying to solve. During my IE Brown MBA program, together with learning about state of the art learning management strategies, we learnt a lot about capitalism and the true role of the entrepreneur in the society. An entrepreneur goes out to build a startup, works really hard on it every day, obsesses incessantly about the problem and probably makes almost nothing at the end of it all. But millions of people around the world will use his product or service to solve a real naggy problem and the world will be a slightly better place at the end of it all. This is the beauty of capitalism and the entrepreneurs drive of creative destruction. He progressively raises the living standards of the masses and makes the world a better place to be.

Based on this approach of solving real problems, we have created a curated path of decision frameworks in our recent book “No Startup Hipsters: Build Scalable Technology Companies” to help entrepreneurs find their own way bound by their constraints and enriched by their own context. It is not an easy feel-good read, but at the end of it, the reader will be provoked by very fundamental questions that will make the journey more impactful. We have made it available exclusively at La Tienda (IE Bookstore) from August as a physical copy. Otherwise it is available on Amazon. So, if something constantly bothers you, keeps you awake and you can’t help but think about it in the shower, while playing football, paragliding or chilling on the beach, go do something about it. The world might be a slightly better place for the sacrifices you are about to make and maybe it will give you back some. Best of Luck!


Vicente Gracia, antiguo alumno del International MBA 2012. Su paso por el IE le ha dado las herramientas necesarias para desarrollar un proyecto de emprendimiento social con mucho futuro y que seguramente ayudará a ONGs en su labor social.

¿De qué va el proyecto? ¿Consideras que es una empresa “social”?

BookingSmiles es un portal solidario donde las reservas habituales las convertimos en reservas solidarias. El portal permite al usuario reservar en sus plataformas favoritas y repartir donativos sin ningún coste adicional a la reserva. Para ello he logrado integrar en la web diferentes plataformas de reservas como Edreams, Ticketmaster, ElTenedor, Expedia, Logitravel, Hoteles, Floraqueen, Casa del Libro, entre otras. Del mismo modo he firmado convenios de colaboración con diferentes fundaciones como Ecos do Sur, Vencer el Cáncer, 1 Kilo de Ayuda, Pan y Peces, Diversión Solidaria, Ayuda a los Animales, y próximamente más.

Toda reserva hecha en BookingSmiles genera un donativo. ¿Cómo? Mediante un programa de afiliados donde las diferentes plataformas de reservas pagan una comisión a BookingSmiles por cada reserva realizada a través del portal. Para ello he creado un juego donde el usuario recibe «Sonrisas» equivalentes a un porcentaje de la comisión generada por su reserva. El valor de las «Sonrisas» se incrementa cuantas más reservas realice y más «Sonrisas» acumule con sus reservas. El valor monetario de la «Sonrisa» en el primer nivel del juego es de 0,10€ y se incrementará 0,01€ por cada nivel avanzado, hasta llegar a un valor de la «Sonrisa» de 0,25€. De esta manera cuantas más reservas realice el usuario, más ayuda.

¿De dónde surge la idea?

La idea surge en México en el año 2011 al ver un programa de televisión donde empresarios exitosos con grandes fortunas dejan a un lado el lujo y el mundo empresarial para incorporarse, de forma secreta, a una comunidad de escasos recursos por un tiempo determinado. Durante su inmersión en ese mundo totalmente desconocido para ellos, los millonarios secretos se dedican a buscar la forma de ganarse la vida mientras conocen y estudian a la comunidad. De éste modo identifican sus fortalezas y debilidades. Una vez transcurrido el tiempo, los millonarios secretos revelan su identidad y colaboran con dinero, experiencia y conocimientos para que la comunidad pueda salir adelante.

En ese programa descubrí a un joven millonario de 28 años, creador de una plataforma de reservas online para restaurantes en Reino Unido.

Al ver que su idea fue tan exitosa en Reino Unido hice un rápido estudio de mercado en México. Para mi sorpresa, me encontré con un mercado muy poco explotado, lo que me motivó a seguir adelante con la idea. Fue ahí cuando decidí desarrollar una idea similar pero necesitaba darle un valor añadido al usuario, ya que de lo contrario me sería muy difícil entrar a competir en el mercado de reservas online con el mismo servicio de la competencia.

Tras semanas dándole vueltas a la idea, me vi con muy pocas alternativas para poder ofrecerle al usuario ese valor añadido que tanto buscaba. Finalmente, al ir conduciendo por las calles de México, vi un cartel colgado de dos postes de luz (farolas) anunciando un bazar navideño para ayudar a fundaciones. Al leer el cartel automáticamente se me encendió la bombilla y decidí que el valor añadido que tanto buscaba era el de generar donativos por cada reserva realizada a fundaciones. Es ahí cuando nace la idea que hoy es la esencia de BookingSmiles: las reservas solidarias.

La idea la empecé a desarrollar inmediatamente y al decidir venirme a estudiar un master en IE en España tuve la oportunidad de proponer mi idea para un proyecto en grupo para una clase del máster. Fue entonces cuando decidí expandir la idea e incluir las plataformas de reserva tanto para aviones como para hoteles. Desde entonces la idea ha ido evolucionando constantemente.


¿En qué fase se encuentra este proyecto?

El proyecto se encuentra en fase media de desarrollo. La pagina principal, ya funciona correctamente, sin embargo, estamos en fase de rediseño web. Además, nos encontramos en fase de programación para otras dos webs complementarias a BookingSmiles. La primera es una agencia de viajes online para la venta de billetes de avión, noches de hotel, y alquiler de coches. La otra es una plataforma de venta de entradas para eventos donde el usuario podrá crear su propio evento ya sea público o privado y promover la venta de entradas. Ambas plataformas serán integradas dentro de BookingSmiles para darles un enfoque solidario, destinando un porcentaje de las comisiones a las fundaciones o programas de ayuda que el usuario decida apoyar.


¿Qué os llevó a hacer esta empresa?

A los 18 años de edad monté mi primera empresa con unos amigos, la cual sigue en operación. Desde entonces decidí embarcarme en el mundo empresarial, abriendo otras empresas tanto en México como en España.

Hubo muchos factores que me llevaron a montar esta empresa. Principalmente la idea me parece genial, ya que he logrado crear un modelo de negocio que funciona perfectamente y que genera valor a todas las partes involucradas (usuario, sociedad, fundaciones, partners, empresa) haciendo aportaciones económicas a fundaciones y programas de ayuda que mejoran la calidad de vida de la sociedad.

Influyeron otros factores como el crecimiento constante del comercio electrónico, los tiempos de crisis que vivimos, el apoyo económico por parte del gobierno español, y haberme graduado en el IE Business School teniendo la posibilidad de permanecer en España.

¿Tuvisteis algún tipo de asesoramiento para comenzar?

El asesoramiento lo recibí durante el master ya que desarrollé el proyecto durante la clase de Gestión Emprendedora junto con 5 compañeros de clase. Una vez finalizado el máster seguí desarrollando todo por cuenta propia. Sin embargo, he mantenido contacto con algunos de los profesores del máster quienes han compartido conmigo su experiencia y conocimiento.

¿Fue la única idea inicial o teníais otras y os decidisteis por ésta?

La idea inicial era crear un sistema de reservas para restaurantes donde el restaurante realizaba un donativo a las fundaciones por cada reserva realizada. Al haber sido seleccionado para el proyecto de la clase de Gestión Emprendedora decidí expandir la idea. Modifiqué el modelo de negocio, e incorporé otras plataformas de reserva como la venta de billetes de avión y reserva de noches de hotel. Poco a poco fui integrando otras plataformas de reserva como venta de entradas, flores, libros, etc.

¿Cuáles han sido los mayores obstáculos que habéis encontrado?

Sin lugar a duda el mayor obstáculo que he tenido es el tiempo. Me ha llevado mucho tiempo realizar algunos trámites necesarios lo que me quitaba tiempo para avanzar en otros puntos del proyecto. También, al ser mi primera incursión en el mundo online, he tenido que esforzarme mucho para llegar a comprender el alcance y potencial de Internet y saber enfocarlo de la manera correcta.

¿Cuáles son vuestras fortalezas con respecto a la competencia?

Sin lugar a duda nuestra mayor fortaleza es la generación de donativos por cada reserva realizada a través del portal, los cuales vienen sin ningún coste adicional para el usuario. Además es el usuario quien decide a cuál de las fundaciones o programas de ayuda apoyar con el donativo generado. Es curioso pero, en este caso, algunos de mis competidores son mis aliados estratégicos, quienes me autorizan integrar su plataforma de reserva bajo un programa de afiliados.

Otra fortaleza frente a mis competidores es que en BookingSmiles ofrecemos al usuario la posibilidad de reservar en diferentes plataformas dentro de un mismo portal.

¿Qué planes tenéis para el futuro a corto y mediano plazo?

A corto plazo, para este mismo año, tendré terminadas las dos webs adicionales al proyecto: la agencia de viajes online y la plataforma de venta de entradas. El lanzamiento y promoción de las webs será a nivel España, y posteriormente se lanzarán en otros mercados como Reino Unido, Estados Unidos, México, Alemania, Italia, Francia, Brasil, Japón, etc.

Danos algunos consejos para los emprendedores (sociales) de IE.

Yo recomiendo a todos los emprendedores que se enfoquen primero en encontrar una buena idea y no parar de perfeccionarla. No se trata de inventar el hilo negro, sino de conectar los puntos entre dos o más negocios que ya existen y que ya han resultado exitosos. En mi caso no descubrí el hilo negro, sólo conecté los puntos entre el mercado de reservas online y las fundaciones.

Otro consejo importante es no preocuparse por el dinero que va a financiar el proyecto. Veo constantemente que es el principal obstáculo para muchos emprendedores, cuando debe ser lo último que debe preocupar. Si la idea es buena habrá inversores, bancos u otros organismos dispuestos a financiarlo.

¿Qué recuerdos más preciados tienes del máster? Cómo te mantienes en contacto con tus compañeros?

Para mí el año del máster ha sido sin lugar a dudas el mejor año de mi vida. Está lleno de buenos recuerdos, nuevos amigos e inigualables experiencias. La variedad de culturas y nacionalidades hacen del máster algo muy especial, compartiendo y analizando diferentes puntos de vista de los compañeros de clase. Además la vida fuera de la escuela es única debido a que tu red de amigos crece significativamente durante el curso.

Nos mantenemos en contacto principalmente vía redes sociales donde estamos en contacto frecuentemente. Cuando visitas una ciudad aprovechas para reunirte con compañeros del máster que viven ahí, tomar unas cañas y disfrutar de un anfitrión de primer nivel.

¿Qué le dirías a los candidats que están pensando en hacer un máster en IE?

Definitivamente lo recomendaría. Es un curso muy completo, con excelentes profesores, alumnos, staff, e instalaciones. La duración del curso es óptima ya que en tan solo 14 meses lo terminas, cuando los demás masters duran casi el doble de tiempo. De todos modos los rankings mundiales, que lo sitúan entre los mejores programas de MBA, hablan por si solos.


Vicente Gracia, International MBA alum, class of 2012. His time at IE has given to him the necessary tools to develop a social venture project with a great future that will help NGO’s in their social labour.

What is the project about? Do you claim to be a «social» business?

BookingSmiles is a reservations website where the standard reservations become reservations supporting a cause. The portal allows the user to book on your favourite platforms and distribute donations, with no extra cost to make the reservation. To do this I’ve been integrating different web platforms such as eDreams reserves, Ticketmaster, TheFork, Expedia, Logitravel, Hotels, Floraqueen, among others. I have also signed cooperation agreements with various foundations as «Ecos do Sur», «Vencer el Cáncer», «1 Kilo de Ayuda», «Pan y Peces», «Diversión Solidaria», «Ayuda a los Animales», and more to come.

Any reservation made ​​through BookingSmiles generates a donation. How? Through an affiliate program where different platforms bookings pay a commission to BookingSmiles for each reservation made ​​through the portal. To do this I’ve created a game where the user receives «Smiles» corresponding to a percentage of the commission generated per booking. The value of the «Smiles» increases the more bookings and more «Smiles» accumulate with each reservation. The monetary value of the «Smile» at the first level of the game is € 0.10 and € 0.01 for each increase advanced level, reaching a value of «Smile» 0.25 €. In this way the more reservations made ​​by users, the more help social organizations get.

Where did the idea come from?

The idea started in Mexico in 2011as I was watching a TV show where successful and wealthy entrepreneurs put aside the luxury to secretly join, a community with limited resources. During their immersion in that world completely unknown to them, the secret millionaires had to make a living while secretly analysing the community. This way the community and their own identify their strengths and weaknesses. Days later, the millionaires reveal their secret identity and help the community to move forward with their money, experience and knowledge.

Through this program I discovered a young millionaire, aged 28, creator of a platform for online reservations for restaurants in the UK.

Realizing that his idea was so successful in the UK, I did a quick market survey in Mexico. Surprisingly, I found a largely untapped market, which motivated me to go ahead with the idea. In that moment I’ve decided to develop a similar idea but with the need to give an added value to the user, because otherwise it would be very difficult to compete in the market for online bookings with the same service offered by the competition.

After weeks going around the idea, I saw very few alternatives to offer added value to the user that I was looking for. Finally, driving through the streets of Mexico I saw a billboard around two street lights announcing a Christmas bazaar to help NGO’s. Reading that board automatically «turned my idea bulb on» and I decided that the added value that I was looking for was to generate donations to ONGs for each booking made in my platform. That is the moment when the idea was born, and that is now the essence of BookingSmiles: the solidarity reservation site.

I started to develop the idea immediately and after deciding to study a master in IE, in Spain, I had the opportunity to expose my idea in a group project for the Entrepreneurial Management class in the master. Then I also decided to expand the idea to include booking platforms for both, flights and hotels. Thereafter, the idea has been constantly evolving.

In what stage is the project?

The project is always under development, sort of saying. The main page of is up and running and we are working on its redesign. In addition, we are in phase of programming two complementary BookingSmiles webs. The first one being an online travel agency for selling airline tickets, hotels, and car rental. The second one is a platform for selling tickets for events where users can create their own event, both private and public, and sale tickets. Both platforms will be integrated within BookingSmiles to support the charity causes, allocating a percentage of commissions for NGO’s or to support social programs that the user decides.

What led you to create this business?

At 18 years old I started my first company with some friends, which is still operating. Since then I decided to get on the business world, opening other businesses in Mexico and Spain.

There were many factors that led me set up this company. Mainly the idea, which seemed great to me. I’ve succeeded in creating a business model that works and generates value for all stakeholders (users, society, NGO’s, partners, company) making monetary contributions to NGO’s and aid programs that improve the quality of life in the society.

Other factors had also influenced such as the sustained growth of the e-commerce, the current economic situation, the financial support from the Spanish government, and the fact that my graduation from IE Business School gave me the opportunity to stay in Spain.

Did you have some advice to get started?

I received advice during the master at IE and developed the project for Entrepreneurial Management class along with 5 classmates. Once I completed the master I continued the project on my own. However, I’ve maintained direct contact with some of my teachers who have shared their experience and knowledge with me.

Was the only original idea or you had others and decided for this one?

The initial idea was to create a reservation system for restaurants where the restaurant should made a donation to an NGO each time a booking was made. Having been selected for the class project for Entrepreneurial Management I decided to expand the idea. I modified the business model and incorporated other booking platforms as selling airline tickets and hotels reservations. Step by step I was integrating other booking platforms as ticketing, flowers, books, etc.

What were the biggest obstacles you have found?

Certainly the biggest obstacle I’ve had is time. It took me a while to do some formalities and procedures required to move on. Also, being my first move into the online world, I had to work hard to understand the scope and potential of Internet and to know the right way to approach it.

What are your strengths relative to the competition?

Undoubtedly our greatest strength is to generate donations for every booking made through the portal, which will come at no additional cost to the user. Also is the user who decides which of the NGO or supporting programs to make the donation. It’s funny but in this case, some of my competitors are my strategic partners, who allow me to integrate their booking platform under an affiliate program.

Strength against my competitors is that BookingSmiles offer to the user the possibility to make reservations on different platforms within the same portal.

What are your plans for the future in short and medium term?

In the short term, this year, I will have finished the two additional sites: the online travel agency and ticketing platform. The launch and promotion of the websites will be firstly in Spain, and subsequently launched in other international markets like UK, USA, Mexico, Germany, Italy, France, Brazil, Japan, etc.

Give us some tips for (social) entrepreneurs IE.

I recommend to all entrepreneurs that first focus on finding a good idea and don’t stop perfecting it. It is not to invent the wheel, but is connecting two or more businesses ideas that already exist and have been successful. In my case I didn’t discovered the wheel, I just connected the market for online reservations and NGO’s.

Another important tip is not to be worried about the money that is going to support the project. I constantly see is the main obstacle for many entrepreneurs, when it should be the last thing you should worry about. If the idea is good enough then good investors will appear, either banks or other organizations willing to support it.

What valuable memories you have from the master? How do you keep in touch with your classmates?

For me the year of the master was undoubtedly the best year of my life. I have lots of great memories, new friends and unique experiences. The diversity of cultures and nationalities adds something special to the master, sharing and analyzing different views of classmates. Besides, life outside of school is unique because your network grows significantly during the course.

We keep connected mainly by social networks where we are frequently in touch. When you visit a city you can meet your master’s peers living there and take some beers enjoying a first level host.

What would you say to people who are considering doing a master at IE?

I definitely recommend it. It is a comprehensive course with excellent teachers, students, staff, and facilities. The course duration is optimal because you can graduate in just 14 months, when other masters can take almost twice. Anyway, the world rankings, which situate IE among the top MBA programs, speak by themselves.



Catia Neto de Sousa, graduate of the International MBA in May 2014 won this year the Global Career Challenge of Coloplast. She recently joined the company as Head of Branding & Marketing in Denmark. Enclosed an interview in which she shares her experience about the Challenge. The call for the challenge was promoted on the Career Portal. Coloplast is a regular recruiter at IE.

Catia Neto de Sousa, International MBA mayo de 2014, ha ganado el Global Career Challenge de Coloplast. Recientemente se ha incorporado a esta compañía como Directora de Branding y Marketing en Dinamarca. Aquí puedes leer la entrevista en la que comparte su experiencia sobre the Challenge. Esta convocatoria fue promovida por el departamento de Carreras Profesionales de IE en su portal. Coloplast es un reclutador habitual en IE



DarioMinutella Dario Minutella appointed Manager A.T. Kearney

Dario tells us about his career in the consultancy company:

Upon graduation at IE in December 2010 I joined A.T. Kearney office in Milan as Associate. For the first two years I worked in Italy on very interesting projects in several industries, such as telecommunications, insurance, manufacturing, etc.

In March 2013 I took the opportunity to join a project in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which consisted of supporting the Government in setting-up a cash and carry business, with the main objective of ensuring constant supply of FMCGs at good quality and affordable price. The company was established as Ethiopian Trading Enterprise and later we adopted the trade name of ALLE.  We currently operate two stores in Addis Ababa and will soon expand to the Regions.

I am proud of what we have done and this project provided me invaluable personal and professional experiences. Recently I have been promoted to Manager with A.T. Kearney and I have hired a Summer Associate from IE to work at ALLE on inventory optimization.


Darío Minutella nombrado Manager en A.T. Kearney. Darío nos habla de su carrera profesional en esta empresa de consultoría:

Después de mi graduación en el IE en diciembre de 2010 me ​​incorporé a AT Kearney en la oficina de Milán como Associate. Durante los dos primeros años trabajé en Italia en proyectos muy interesantes en varias industrias, como las telecomunicaciones, los seguros, manufacturación, etc
En marzo de 2013 tuve la oportunidad de unirme a un proyecto en Addis Abeba, en Etiopía, que consistió en apoyar al Gobierno en el establecimiento de un programa de efectivo y desarrollar los negocios, con el principal objetivo  de garantizar el suministro constante de bienes de consumo de buena calidad y precio asequible. La empresa fue fundada como Ethiopian Trading Enterprise después adoptó el nombre comercial de ALLE. Actualmente operamos en dos tiendas en Addis Abeba, y pronto se expandirá en otras regiones.

Estoy orgulloso de este proyecto que me proporciona experiencias personales y profesionales de valor incalculable. Recientemente he sido nombrado Manager en AT Kearney y he contratado a un Associate para el verano (reclutado en IE) para trabajar en ALLE en la optimización del inventario.


MariaJBoluarteMaría José Boluarte Baca
Upon her recent graduation from the International MBA last May, María José Boluarte is going back to her native Peru to become General Manager of the subsidiary of Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS) a satellite services company owned by French Space Agency.
María José worked previously at CLS in Peru and Toulouse as the division sales manager for Latin America.

Tras su reciente graduación en el MBA Internacional en mayo, María José Boluarte vuelve a su Perú natal para convertirse en General Manager de la filial de Collecte Localisation Satellite (CLS) de una empresa de servicios de satélite propiedad de la Agencia Espacial Francesa.

María José trabajó previamente en CLS en Perú y Toulouse como Gerente de Ventas de la división para América Latina.


If you or your classmates wants to be featured on this section of the Alumni Blog, write us! 

Si tu o alguno de tus compañeros quier mostrar sus lgros profesionales en este blog, ¡Escríbenos!




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