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Alumni Stories · Entrepreneurship - Technology Management - Innovation

EMBA startup ideas put to the test in on-campus Startup Accelerator Day

From a wealth management platform that educates children and millennials about investing to an app that encourages in-person social interactions, EMBA candidates explored the startup ideas of their fellow participants during a day dedicated to enabling entrepreneurship.
April 2022

Executive MBA participants in the Class of April 2022, the self-named ‘NewHorizons’ cohort, came together earlier this month for a Startup Accelerator Day to coach and mentor each other on their startup ideas.

“Inspired by the entrepreneurship and innovation discovery expeditions in the EMBA program, we decided to come together for a day of ‘enabling entrepreneurship’ with the goal of exploring the startup ideas and of pressure testing different sides of the business,” said fellow EMBA participant Phil Norris, who has spent over a decade working with founders and CEOs of startups and SMEs.

With the support of Jim Pulcrano, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Management at IMD, and EMBA Cohort Director Maria Schmitt, they designed a day focused around four areas:

  • Desirability – why now is the right time for customers to adopt the new solution;
  • Feasibility – how to form a business model that enables growth and scaling;
  • Investability – why the founding team and value proposition is investable;
  • Mentality – how to support entrepreneurs to keep a learning, growth and positive mindset.

Nine participants presented their startup ideas, including:

Kevin Wainscott, who is launching ImOff.com in May 2022, an iOS App aiming to connect people based on their free time availability. Born out of Kevin’s personal frustration of never knowing when his friends were available when he worked as an airline pilot on a varying schedule, it quickly became apparent that the issue was far wider-spread than just the aviation industry.

Though the launch of the platform had been delayed due to the COVID pandemic, the founding team have adapted the platform to take advantage of a new wave of flexible workers encountering the same issues. Kevin said, “Though we were far along in the project, the startup accelerator day gave me a useful opportunity to check some assumptions prior to launch; I would have loved to have had this opportunity before.”

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Mahnoosh Mirghaemi intends to build on her experience in asset management with the idea for a wealth management advisory platform to educate children and millennials about money, its value and investment. Her vision is to democratize the wealth-management industry by providing a tool that enables young investors to co-create their investment profile with high levels of transparency.

Michael Breiter’s business idea permits tapping into arbitrage opportunities created by pricing and valuation standards used in the hospitality industry. The proposal also entails lower-priced hotel sourcing for travel retailers and opening a new travel insurance market. Reflecting on the startup accelerator day, Michael said, “The day gave me more clarity on the potential and caveats for my business. It is a rare opportunity to have such a qualitative and motivated sounding board for one’s ideas.”

Tatiana Tsalolikhina presented the idea for GaleriaHelvetia, a technological digital platform designed to serve clients from the world of sustainable/alternative fashion by combing the benefits of social media, eCommerce, virtual reality and other digital innovations.

“It was a busy day that made me think deeply about my startup’s future success,” commented Tatiana. “When you first develop your business idea, your fellow entrepreneurs and businesspeople should challenge your idea. Getting a lot of questions, sometimes awkward, helps to clarify and make sense of the business model.”

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Among the other startup ideas presented were an ESG community driven rating platform, a cultural due diligence provider, a platform for musicians and music lovers, a platform to enable flexible working in private medical practices, as well as an idea to tokenize grain commodities.

The EMBAs also had a session on IMD’s Alumni Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), which showed the breadth of global support for entrepreneurs in the wider IMD community.