Celebrating International Women’s Day: Meet The B-School Female Founders

Irina Gheorghiu, who studied at ESCP Business School, founded ZIM

Irina Gheorghiu, ESCP Business School, ZIM

Hometown: Bucharest and Madrid

Business Degree: BSc Politics with Economics at Bath University and MSc Digital Transformation Management & Leadership at ESCP Business School

Why did you choose to study your course at ESCP Business School?:

Being a Bachelor of one of the best UK universities, I wanted to try something new: A new type of teaching. I wanted more courses on real-life situations. The course pursued at ESCP was hands-on and it included many aspects very important to my learning curve, being already a founder of a startup. Moreover, ESCP is also known for supporting students on their journey as entrepreneurs and pushing them to achieve their students, giving support and advice when needed.

Tell us more about your company/organization and what you do:

ZIM is based on the concept that travelers want to be connected from the first moment they land. ZIM will be able to provide this opportunity by offering travelers local mobile plans through eSIM technology, simple and easy with just one click. eSIM is a small chip already integrated into users’ devices manufactured after 2017 and allows the whole process of acquiring a phone plan to be 100% digital.

By partnering up with local mobile providers, ZIM offers a low-cost, digital, and personalized solution to travelers worldwide. Tourist will be able to compare and purchase a mobile plan in advance and activate it upon arrival at their destinations, directly through our application. 

I am the CEO and co-founder of ZIM, and I am handling the finance, investor relations and fundraising within the company. As a cofounder, when we incorporated ZIM, our tasks were more general, as I was handling recruitment, HR, marketing, and finance. Once the team grew, our jobs became more specialized. 

Was it always your goal to found a company?:

It was not. In my mind, entrepreneurship was never an option as a career. I studied a very traditional degree within a traditional UK university. Furthermore, entrepreneurship was not a real option to pursue at that stage. 

While traveling to the Philippines we encountered a problem: connectivity. My cofounder, Giulia Acchioni, and myself waited for one hour in queue to buy a local SIM card to be able to then order an Uber, as well as call our families to let them know we arrived safely. It was frustrating and this frustration became a great opportunity to start our own business in order to solve this issue we encountered. We had no clue on where to start, or who to contact. Therefore, we decided to pursue different Master’s degrees in the business and technology area to learn and improve our skills as managers and new businesswomen. 

What advice would you have for other entrepreneurial women that want to found a company?:

Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. Being a woman in entrepreneurship is even harder. My biggest advice is to surround yourself with a great team. Create a great company culture that will allow your employees and management team to become your family. Building a startup can become lonely without much-needed support, therefore, choosing the right co-founder is the key to success. 

There are many factors in the market that discourage women to pursue entrepreneurship, it is important to have great resilience and if you believe in your idea, keep going. 

How do you think your experience at b-school will help you with your venture?:

It has opened up my mind, the learning process has been a great improvement in my managerial skills within ZIM. Business schools are known to support entrepreneurs and many alumni create their own successful companies after their studies, which means the network it creates is of great value. Feeling part of an alumni community that understands and supports each other is a key part of my experience at a business school.

What are your hopes for the future of women in business?:

My hopes are to see more of us building amazing companies. The industry is slowly opening up to women and we need to take the chance to become entrepreneurs. This will allow for future generations of women to be motivated to pursue their dreams. I am seeing every day more women in leadership positions, as well as in VCs, and this gives me great hope for the future. Together we will build a better tomorrow.

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