IESE MBAs Storm Startup Epicenter


IESE students gather at Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco

The mutual infatuation between MBAs and the tech and startup world continues to blossom. Over the past few years, Amazon has emerged as one of the biggest employers of elite MBAs. Google and Apple now top McKinsey, Deloitte and other MBA-centric firms as the “most desirable” places to work for MBAs. And increasingly, MBAs from nearly all corners of the globe are frequenting the tech-rich Bay Area to see just what is in the water that breeds world-beating tech powers and early stage ventures, alike.

The most recent to do so was a group of 28 MBA students from the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Barcelona. Last month, IESE students from more than 15 different countries joined one faculty member and a staffer from the career services department on a spring break trip to get face-time in front of some of the most influential and impacting startups and tech companies. The group’s visits ran the gammut of the entrepreneurial lifecycle and the Who’s Who of the Bay Area’s finest. Students spent the week with the likes of hyper-competitive accelerator, Techstars; tech Goliaths, Salesforce, Dropbox and of course, the mighty Google; and veteran venture capitalist, Bill Reichert of Garage Technology Ventures, among many others. Poets&Quants tagged along for the first day of the five-day trek, called IESE Meets The Valley, which was the school’s fifth edition of the trip.

As we walk from San Francisco’s Union Square to SOMA to the Financial District, MBAs from Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan and Finland all speak about their keen entrepreneurial interest. According to trip organizer and second-year MBA, Sebastian Schambach, students applying to go on the trip double the amount of spaces they have. Interested students must fill out an application and pen an essay, lobbying their worthiness to make the cut. Schambach speaks about his own entrepreneurial interest and the entrepreneurial zeal many of the students possess. He boasts about his classmates’ skill sets and background more than his own as we walk from Techstars to Salesforce.


Indeed, MBAs launching their own businesses and entering tech are on the uptick at IESE. For the graduating class of 2015, some 6% started their own businesses and 3% went back to their family businesses, up from 3% and 2%, respectively in 2014. For those entering the corporate sector in 2015, the most (11.1%) chose e-commerce over healthcare, information technology and consumer goods. In 2014, a quarter of the graduating class entered tech (13%) or e-commerce (12%). Meantime, some 24% entered consulting and 17% went into financial services.

IESE’s entrepreneurial focus may start immediately in the full-time MBA program, but majority of the training begins in the summer. After their first year, IESE MBAs may spend six weeks in the summer focusing on developing a business idea. Those who want to see their summer project come to fruition may then focus their second year electives on developing the idea. The very best ideas and entrepreneurs can then apply to enter the coveted IESE Finaves–an accelerator run by the school which has produced 30 businesses that have generated upwards of $80 million in revenue and more than 1,500 jobs since 2000.

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