setting up your own business

CBS Business Accelerator: Where Ideas Come to Life… Sort of

Interested in creating and setting up your own business post-MBA? I was, or at least I was curious enough to test if my entrepreneurial ideas would hold up against a rigorous MBA course and a ‘dragon’s den’ created for the occasion. In this post, join me and my two classmates, Nina Lupan and Donald Goff Molina, who also took the Business Accelerator elective, as we walk you through three important stages: ‘The Ideation’, ‘Meeting with Mentors’ and ‘The Pitch’, using our three very different business ideas.

The Ideation, from my business idea Glomad

“Connecting, exposing, and integrating you to your new world – one event at a time.”

Coming into the CBS Business Accelerator, our class had varying expectations on how the course could unfold. Some came fully prepared with start-up concepts, while others hadn’t even thought about how the next two weeks would pan out. On Day 1, our professor Eythor Jonsson challenged us to come up with an idea, presentation, and pitch to present to the class in two hours. He also dropped the bomb that we would be pitching to venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, investors, and other experts starting the following day.

Still reeling from the shock of this news, I immediately began scrolling through Instagram for inspiration. Eythor presented examples showing the origination of some of today’s most successful ideas – drinks with friends (including some from this class), a desire to solve a problem, failures… (yes, failures can be a powerful motivator). As Frank Lloyd Wright put it, “An Idea Is Salvation By Imagination.” My ideation process came from a desire to solve a problem that I and other close connections have had: getting to know a new community around me. Coming into the CBS MBA, all 32 of us came into an already established community where we could start forming bonds with each other. I have lived in some obscure places, including a small Japanese city with a population of just under 500,000. Conversely, I spent the last few years in New York City, where I indulged in attending events of a wide variety. This love of getting to know and acclimating to a new city through events inspired Glomad, a platform that would act as an ‘ex-pat’ toolbox and matchmaker for the user to events, business, and the community around them. Glomad was inspired by a desire to connect an individual with their local community and culture through up-to-date information, without wasting time on cluttered social media sites.

Meeting with Mentors, from Donald Goff Molina’s business idea LookmeUp

“LookmeUp, know where the deals are on what you want and never miss another deal!”

The best ideas are born by CO-creation and using others with greater experience than your own. During the next Business Accelerator phase, we were paired with different mentors that shared their insights on the concept we wanted to realize. These discussions allowed for our ideas to evolve by integrating and leveraging different perspectives and evaluating data, which resulted in new propositions taking shape. This was the case with my original concept, previously titled “No More Food Waste”, the starting point to my formal, leaned-out concept now referred to as “LookmeUp”. The original concept was focused on an all-inclusive lowest-price grocery finder that would identify and aggregate the best prices of each individual, resulting in one single place to get all your grocery needs at the best price. I had many technical and operational challenges to consider, especially to cut back on the many value propositions I was trying to address. After these insights and edits to my business model canvas, the solution was clear: the main value proposition I was giving to the customer was not where to get groceries, but where to get the best deals. Without co-creation, bouncing around ideas, and actual real-life entrepreneurship discussions this wouldn’t have been created or found for LookmeUp!

The Pitch, from Nina Lupan’s business idea The Travel Box

“Delivering travel planning and inspiration for your next trip to your doorstep”

When presenting our startups to the class, investors, and other entrepreneurs, there was no stronger message delivered from Eythor than to be excited about our startups! This energy and passion for what we had worked on over the last two intensive weeks was to come alive in our final pitch presentation on “Demo Day”. Here, all of our ideation, mentor meetings, number crunching and prototyping came together into a seven minute presentation explaining our company’s purpose, potential and function. My startup, The Travel Box, is a fun passion project of mine which sells a physical package to your home filled with city-specific items and “off the beaten path” information for an upcoming trip that one might need when travelling to the next major European city. Aside from the necessary financial information, customer market potential and the startup’s talent needs in my pitch, I had a fun time putting together a prototype box for Copenhagen to present to everyone. It was a proud moment for me to present this prototype and incorporate the many insights that came out from the mentor and peer meetings during the process. Even more inspiring was seeing everyone else’s ideas come to life with unique catchy introductions to the societal issues they were looking to challenge – from saving the environment, to fighting depression – with the same passion and rigor as I had in addressing the opportunity for more tangible inspiration in the travel industry.