Jim Pulcrano

Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management

Jim Pulcrano is Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management. He has extensive expertise in entrepreneurship, particularly startup culture, strategy, customer centricity, marketing, and disruption.

A former Executive Director at IMD, Pulcrano runs the annual IMD Startup Competition and teaches entrepreneurship courses for Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency. He works with a range of individuals, corporations, startups, and not-for-profit organizations on projects at the interface of business and academia and is particularly enthusiastic about assignments requiring creativity to unlock solutions that are not immediately obvious.

He has taught programs for a range of major clients including Audemars Piguet, Bayer, Bossard, BĂĽhler, Caterpillar, EDF, Engie, INEOS, KPN, Lenovo, Medtronic, Mölnlycke, Monsanto, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Straumann, UEFA, and the Swiss federal government. He also teaches on IMD’s Executive MBA (EMBA), Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP), and full-time MBA programs.

In 1998, Pulcrano founded the IMD Startup Competition, believing that an understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation had to be at the core of the school’s EMBA and MBA programs. The competition allows selected Swiss-based startups to receive support from EMBA and MBA teams, and course participants have now worked with more than 500 startups as a result.

More recently, he launched a custom program for scaleup companies – startups that have started to gain market traction and achieve significant growth. This program was created for Swiss companies in collaboration with the canton of Vaud but may ultimately be offered to scaleups from across Europe.

Pulcrano joined the management team of IMD in 1993 as Director of Marketing and remained an Executive Director until 2013. During this time, he was responsible for IMD’s client relationships across a wide part of the world, the school’s global alumni organization, and its entrepreneurial work in Silicon Valley. He was also a founding member of the EMBA teaching team. He continued as an Affiliate Professor until 2019 when he became an Adjunct Professor, and still devotes the bulk of his time to IMD.

He produces regular case studies and articles, including cases on Logitech and the proposed creation of a new European football Super League, and in 2021 made a seven-part podcast series with Patrick Reinmoeller on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the aviation industry.

Pulcrano has contributed substantially to six startup companies in the US and Switzerland over the past 30 years, three as co-founder. He is also an investor and advisory board member in several early-stage companies, and recently joined the board of Kwera, a not-for-profit organization set up by an IMD EMBA alumnus to improve education access for young people in Malawi.

In 2003, the Swiss federal government invited him to join its strategy committee for Swissnex, a network of education, research, innovation, and art outposts aimed at connecting Switzerland with the world’s innovation hubs. He currently teaches on the government’s Innosuisse entrepreneurship courses and at AISTS, the International Academy of Sports Science and Technology in Lausanne, where he previously served as a board member.

Pulcrano is also a jury member for Switzerland’s Venturelab grant program for nascent entrepreneurs, serves on the candidates’ committee for the EPFLinnovators doctoral program, and is a member of the Swiss National Center for Competence in Research (NCCR) on robotics, which provides grants for promising research in the field. He is a former Chair of UNICON, an association of the world’s top business schools.

Before joining IMD, he was Managing Director of a Swiss startup in the medical device industry and previously worked as an engineer in the USA and Africa for petroleum services group Schlumberger.

He earned his doctorate from the Grenoble Ecole de Management in 2012 with a thesis focused on entrepreneurship and networking, received an MBA from IMD in 1984, and has a BSc in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Academic publications
Case Study
La Tour: Winning in the private hospital industry with value-based healthcare
DigitalLeadershipStrategy
This case describes the journey of a new CEO bringing an innovative vision and strategy to a for-profit hospital under new ownership. It shows the application of a value-based health outcome approa...
16 May 2023
Case Study
Roasting Plant coffee: From engineer's dream to customer's delight
StrategyEntrepreneurshipMarketingInnovation
Our story starts in 2001. Mike Caswell, an engineer and early Starbuck’s employee, creates a technology that permits better flavor and increased margins, for fresh-roasted coffee in retail stores....
12 July 2022
Case Study
Largo.ai in Hollywood: Good enough?
DigitalDisruptionEntrepreneurshipStrategyStart-upAdvertisingSocial MediaSustainability
The case tells the story of Sami Arpa a young entrepreneur with a passion for the movie industry. Sami Arpa and his start-up Largo leverage technology to improve the movie industry. Largo launched ...
7 June 2022
Case Study
Creation of a new European Super League: Dilemma or opportunity for FC Bayern Munich?
StrategyStakeholder Management
The case is based on published sources and was written in 2019, before the announcement in April 2021 of a breakaway European Super League. The idea of different formats and financing models for co...
10 June 2021
Article
Sheltering-in-privilege: Silicon Valley
EntrepreneurshipOrganizational TransformationTechnology Management
We suggest that one source of understanding entrepreneurial resilience and regional culture is through the denizens of Silicon Valley, and how they are handling crisis situations. We surveyed 119 e...
10 June 2021
Case Study
Bracken Darrell’s turnaround and growth strategy at Logitech
Strategy
New management under CEO Bracken Darrell transformed Logitech into a company with a design-led focus. The product and brand portfolio are diversified with a strong focus on audio, video, gaming and...
31 December 2020
Case Study
Logitech’s growth strategy with Lifesize and Google’s Revue (2008–2011)
Strategy
Logitech has sold billions of computer mice and other computer peripherals over the 38 years of its existence. It was a typical growth company profiting on the success of the PC with an unprecedent...
31 December 2020
Article
Impact of venture competitions on entrepreneurial network development
EntrepreneurshipStart-upVenture Capital
Unlike what organizers of venture competitions usually claim, we found no significant correlation between participating in venture competitions and the expansion of entrepreneurial networks for ear...
12 October 2020
Article
Small is beautiful? Niche entrepreneurship with a Swiss touch
FinanceEntrepreneurshipStrategy
Entrepreneurship in Switzerland seems to be the exact opposite of that in Silicon Valley and can be described as low-impact entrepreneurship, or niche-centric entrepreneurship. We used an online su...
20 March 2020
Case Study
Baabuk’s all wool, no bull: Choosing the best next step
StrategyMarketingEntrepreneurship
Baabuk, a Swiss based start-up with a branded offering in wool footwear was founded in 2014 by the married couple Dan and Galina Witting. Since then and to 2018, the founders have grown the firm to...
13 May 2019
Case Study
SINE: Building a team of the willing
Strategy
An academic research group, providing services to medical device companies, had studied most of the new materials on the market and under development. They found a new approach for solving known is...
19 June 2018
Case Study
AM-Pharma: Creating value (A)
Strategy
AM–Pharma is a biotech company developing a medicine for patients with acute kidney injury. The case describes the company’s journey from inception in 2001 to a large deal with Pfizer in 2015. The ...
7 February 2018
Case Study
AM-Pharma: Creating value (B)
Strategy
AM–Pharma is a biotech company developing a medicine for patients with acute kidney injury. The case describes the company’s journey from inception in 2001 to a large deal with Pfizer in 2015. The ...
7 February 2018
Case Study
AM-Pharma: Creating value (C)
Strategy
AM–Pharma is a biotech company developing a medicine for patients with acute kidney injury. The case describes the company’s journey from inception in 2001 to a large deal with Pfizer in 2015. The ...
7 February 2018
Case Study
Freitag: Designing the agile company (Video case)
AgilityStrategy
FREITAG is one of the most unusual companies in the fashion industry, specializing in bags made of recycled truck tarpaulins. The company was founded in 1993 by two graphic designers, the Swiss bro...
29 September 2014
Insight for Executives
Five networking missteps to avoid 
Article
Five networking missteps to avoid 
Communication
If you want to network well, you need to work at it. Here are five things that might be killing your chances and what to do instead.
26 May 2023
How to scale: Seven qualities of successful scale-up CEOs
Article
How to scale: Seven qualities of successful scale-up CEOs
InnovationStrategyLeadershipStart-up
Most startups will fail, but a few will achieve extraordinary scale. While there’s no silver bullet, being humble, identifying key metrics, and partnering with anchor customers are some of the trai...
17 August 2022
Report
Exploratory podcast: When you have something to teach, but even more to learn
Innovation
The UNICON Research Committee is pleased to offer this paper by Jim Pulcrano and Patrick Reinmoeller for discussion. It differs from most UNICON research, which involves collection of quantitative ...
22 April 2022
Why serendipity is so much more than just a lucky break
Article
Why serendipity is so much more than just a lucky break
Strategy
Good fortune plays a part in launching a successful business idea, but curiosity and confidence are needed to take full advantage
12 May 2021
Behind the design of the COVID vaccine was one company pivoting at lightning speed and taking leaps of faith
Article
Behind the design of the COVID vaccine was one company pivoting at lightning speed and taking leaps of faith
Entrepreneurship Strategy
A deep dive into Moderna’s story shows how disruption favors the well-prepared, the hungry, and those whose intent is clear
5 March 2021
The innovator’s edge: start with a problem and develop a passion
Article
The innovator’s edge: start with a problem and develop a passion
Entrepreneurship Strategy
Ismael Ghalimi’s start-up, Breathe Inc., launched in just three weeks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but already has its sights set on farther horizons. What lessons can we draw from his entr...
30 July 2020
Israel: The unreasonable nation, and how that makes it similar to Silicon Valley
Article
Israel: The unreasonable nation, and how that makes it similar to Silicon Valley
Digital Entrepreneurship Leadership
Entrepreneurs exist everywhere, but several regions, notably Silicon Valley and Israel, are held up as examples for the rest of us to learn from. Rather than simply describing the two places, wh...
13 May 2019
Article
Blockchain DĂ©jĂ  Vu
DigitalTechnology Management
In 2017, the author decided he needed to understand blockchain, as he was getting questions about it from executives in the classrooms of IMD, and he had nothing intelligent or even coherent to say...
29 March 2018
Article
Warum schwache Verbindungen wertvoll sind
General Management
Networking spielt eine zentrale Rolle: Menschen, die wir nicht so gut kennen, ermöglichen uns neue Kontakte und Denkweisen.¦Bis zu 84 Prozent der Führungskräfte, die auf Stellensuche sind finden da...
1 March 2010
Article
So steigern Sie den Wert Ihres Beziehungsnetzes
Strategy
FĂĽr die Karriere ist ein funktionierendes Netzwerk unabdingbar. Doch die meisten Leute wissen gar nicht, wie viel iher Netzwerk Wert ist. Anhand einers Netzwerk-Bilanz und einer Porfolioanalyse kan...
1 January 2007