Escrito el 27 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender

Imagen de previsualización de YouTube


 HOTUSA cooperates with Sonar Ventures to do these Challenge Weekends (Madrid was the 2nd version of this, after Barcelona last year).  They aim to identify potential ideas to incorporate in their operations or found new ventures the goal is to foster innovation in new ways for HOTUSA. Maud Crettex and Sven Siat, both IMBAs (IE Business School) September ’16 intake were each part of one team at the challenge. 

Hotusa 1

What was the challenge about?

  • innovation in the hospitality and tourism industries
  • one weekend, 9 teams of around 5 people
  • participants were chosen from more than 150 applications based on their background and motivation
  • teams were mixed to include different backgrounds (hospitality, business, marketing, technichal)
  • goal was to go from idea to MVP from Friday to Sunday using the lean startup method
  • HOTUSA presented five important trends currently influencing the hospitality
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual and Argumenten Reality
  • Contextual Commerce
  • Big Data
  • Social Travel

The teams had half a day to brainstorm and select an idea. After that the ideas were grouped and prioritised with guidance of experience mentors. The final idea (or ideas) was detailed our using the business model canvas. At that point, the teams were asked to prepare a pitch and if possible an MVP (Mockup App, Video, etc.). Finally on Sunday the teams pitched their idea to representatives of HOTUSA and selected jurors (among them Professor Joe Haslam of IE). The main purpose of the challenge.

Maud and her team addressed the Social traveler trend proposing a app for discovering cities through gasification. Sven and his team proposed a Snooze Button for the hotel room for late checkout to give the guest a longer sleep and generate additional revenue for the hotel. Both ideas were well received by the jury with Maud and her team winning the challenge. What the believe that they did differently was that Maud and her team addressed the Social traveler trend proposing a app for discovering cities through gasification, while the level of ideas generated was on a high level the jury found the ideas of our teams to be playing off the current trends in an innovative way.

Hotusa 2 (1)


Agenda Venture Network Weeklies, October 27th 2016

Escrito el 25 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender



Escrito el 20 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender



Area 31 interviewed Javier Yuste and Jesús San Román García, two of the four co-founders of Binfluencer: the meeting place of influencers and brands, where brands can connect with influencers to carry out marketing campaigns and create or increase brand awareness.  

Last April they became Venture Lab Finalists and they won two prices. At that point, they decided to start in Area 31 and they will probably try to extend our time here.They are 5 people, four co-founders, and the fifth one is their Advisor Jorge SchnuraMost of them met in a Hackathon organized by IBM at IE, and as a result of that they decided to form the team. At the moment they are looking for Interns to work as Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Influencers’ Relationship Manager, Community Manager, Influencers Hunter and Finance Manager.

The idea of Binfluencer started with a shoes business calledVonoshop, which Javier and Jesús started up. They had everything ready to launch when they faced the need to start creating brand awareness. They knew they did not want to follow the path that all firms were following these days to introduce their brand to the world through online ads on Facebook and Google; they wanted to do something different.


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They were attracted by startups such as Pompeii or Hawkers, and the way in which they had done things differently. At that point they thought about backing up their branding campaigns with influencers, when they realized that finding the ideal influencer for each marketing campaign was not easy at all.

“Our problem was that we did not know how much to pay, or how to pay. We were wondering if we had to lend the influencers the pair of shoes and then have the pair returned;  or if we had to give the pair of shoes as a gift… We did not know how all this worked..”

So the main idea they got was to create a platform that would allow companies to identify and contact the perfect-fit influencer with their brand. The way Binfluencer operates is: Influencers sign up to the platform and then companies search for influencers in the platform to match them with their marketing campaigns.

“We have been adding new features and what we are aiming to develop is a platform that functions through automated programatic marketing for the influencers market. The idea is that a company will not only be able to access the influencers’ profiles, but rather that the algorithm will recognize which influencers are the perfect fit for the marketing campaign in hands.”

Therefore, the main feature that Binfluencer offers to businesses, is that the platform will automatically identify the right influencer, the cost of hiring him, and the deal with him/her. On the other hand, the platform will provide certain metrics that will permit the company to analyze the return on investment among other factors. For the time being, the platform enables companies to outsource the services of a person that manually picks the ideal influencers, until automation is ready. In terms of their business model, the platform charges commission for each transaction. They charge around a 30%, however this can be variable depending on the size of the camapign among other factors.

“One of the biggest lessons that we can take from this experience is that we should have had planned in a better way the web development part and the launch of the platform. The time to market is always crucial… We should’ve had more especifically designed the characteristics before. Everything seems rather easy until you start developing.”

“The most difficult part for us is to be able to fit the brands with the number of influencers. At the moment we have around 10 campaigns and more than 300 infleuncers. Our goal is to identify even those influencers which have not signed up to the platform, and that the platform automatically generates the contact with the influencer”.




Agenda IE Venture Network Weeklies, October 20th 2016

Escrito el 18 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender



Escrito el 14 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender



Escrito el 13 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender

We interviewed Diego Arbulu, CEO and founder of Turismoi, a marketplace for local tours operating in Latin American and Spain, with 4 million users since its launch in Perú (25,000 in Spain). The CEO told us his story in the Tourism world first in Groupon and his experience as an entrepreneur with Turismoi.




Since Diego finished his university degree on Tourism Administration, and his MBA in Australia, he started spotting many opportunities related to tourism as a digital business.After being part of a discount webpage platform, Diego moved to Groupon as co-founder and CEO in Peru. Later in 2013, when the company went public in the US, he sold his Groupon shares and began to shuffle the option of creating something new. He focused on the main problem in Peru in respect to tourism: there was a great quantity of activity’s providers, who did not have the means or knowledge to reach the right customers. He partnered with Horacio (Turismoi’s CTO)  who had already built a platform adondevivir.com which was bought by Tiger Global Management, one of Idealista’s investors in 2012.


02Turismoi started operating in 2013 through a CRM model of messaging where providers offered their local tours, and any potential customer could contact them through the platform. It all started as a free model, as they were not looking to monetize at first. They were generating more than 22.500 messaging requests, only in Peru. A year later, given the excessive amount of time that tour operators took to respond to certain customers messages, they began to provide different levels -free level, low level, medium level and high level- according to the features that the platform provided the user with. Later in 2014, the business model was based on the positioning of operators within the marketplace . A year later, they swapped to their current model of charging commission to the transactions carried out throughout the platform. Turimoi provides the tour operators with the software and they upload their tour dates to an automated calendar. Given that we needed all the marketing, we developed an API and we connect the offer of the tour operator to our software.

“We realized that if you do not have marketing you have nothing. It is for that reason that we developed an API for external marketplaces to incorporate into their software. This provides the local tour operators a greater visibility for their tour, and an unimaginable reach to potential customers without the use of traditional marketing”.

They invented the most creative way to develop a marketing strategy without actually spending an incredible amount of money in Traditional Marketing: thorugh the incorporation of an API into their potential “distributor’s” software. For instance OTAs can incorporates Turismoi’s API into their software, so that they can distribute Turismoi’s tours in white labe under their own name. One of their distributors is Peru.com, is part of one the largest commercial group of the country – El Grupo el Comercio – which has over 12 Million visits each month. By incorporating Turismoi’s API, the tour operators are able to reach all those Peru.com’s visitors. This “distributors” such as OTAs or Peru.com decide  in which way they wish to implement the API, as they may incorporate Turismoi’s payment platform or their customer support chat.

Turismoi was at first registered in Panama, where they had the holding together with the two branches in Peru and Spain. However, with the new Spanish investors, they brought the holding to Madrid, and Diego came to work in Area 31, after working for a while in one of their investor’s office. Diego was already connected to IE, given that he had taken ad Executive Course in the Business School, besides winning Venture Day Madrid in 2014. Diego is working from Madrid at the moment where he is closing some deals, and developing the commercial side of the business, nevertheless he travels back and forth from Spain to Peru every six weeks. In terms of their team, it is composed of 16 people, 4 located in Spain and 12 in Peru.


Equipo Madrid

Diego states that this entrepreneurial experience has been completely different to the one in Groupon, where they spent for instance US$100,000 dollars in monthly marketing.

“Compared to Groupon this has been a completely different story, we have seen the ups and downs of an entrepreneur. We have been about to go broke but suddenly there is an investor that appears out of nothing… With Turismoi, I have learnt what the internationalization of a company is, as we have carried out a fresh start from in Colombia, in Ecuador…”

Diego explains that they are not a travel agency, that they  are rather a marketplace for local tours. Their primary focus is to attract as many local tour operators in the countries where we are operating at the moment. The value that the largest players who have approached them see on Turismoi, is the incredible amount of tour operators that they count with and the easiness of distributing their automated tour calendar.

“To any entrepreneur I would give the advice that you have to be 100% sure of what you are doing, and once you decide to give the best of yourself in a new venture, you have to realize that there are good and bad moments, and that you have to take it with humor.”


Agenda IE Venture Network Weeklies, October 13th 2016

Escrito el 11 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender



Escrito el 5 octubre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender

Area 31 interviewed IE Alumni Claudio Schlegel, named Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 by EY Mexico. He told us his story and his life as an entrepreneur with Podemos Progresar:
How did everything start?
During 2009 Fernando Orta, Founder and CEO of Podemos Progresar, graduated from Dartmouth, turned down jobs in NYC as a private banker and traveled back to Mexico city with the dream of starting a different Microfinance focusing on helping the ignite the potential of the women at the bottom of the pyramid.
Fernando and myself had been friends since elementary school so we started hanging out again. He immediately told me about the idea and I fell in love with it so I gave Fernando my savings. With my money, help of family and his own personal assets Fernando ventured and started handing out loans at the back of his truck.
What is you business model?
An organization that would focus on igniting development at the bottom of the pyramid not only through credit but through a development platform that englobes education and training; health services; women empowerment and developing business opportunities such as micro franchises. We believe that the micro loan we hand out is only the fuel that allows the family to get going but will never allow them escape the poverty trap. When women get a loan from Podemos Progresar they get access to a growing platform of beneficial services and products.
Has the concept evolved since you started?
The core why the business was started has remained the same. We believe in the potential that the BoP has in Mexico and we also believe that we can create an organization that is an example for upcoming generations in Mexico and LatAm. What has changed and evolved is the different business lines we initially thought we could launch and control during the beginning; , the accelerated growth we believed we could achieve and the learning curve has been steeper than initially planned… 
What were some of the biggest lessons that has impacted the way that you work? What was the lesson, and what was it like before and after?
There have been a lot of lessons over the past six years and a half, but probably the most important lessons that we have encountered with over and over is that no matter the amount of planning, work, pressure, good results and/or mistakes we have to learn that the obstacle is the way, enjoy the journey and one day at a time. 
How did you develop key partnerships?
The only aspect that has mattered is trust in each other and having every morning the same goal, trying to be better than yesterday and working hard and smart. 
How did you get funded or what creative strategies did you use to execute on minimal cash flow?
We pretty much invest all income generated, we have government support through loans and funds destined to grow and expand the business. Finally we sold in 2014 equity to a investment fund based in NY.
What was your biggest mistake?
There is no mistake that we can consider to be big, otherwise we would not be standing and growing. But if we could start all over again I would say we would move slower, don’t put so much pressure on ourselves and the organization to achieve growth. 
Did you always think that you wanted to become an entrepeneur?
No, before starting my major and having my first real job I always pictured myself working for a big enterprise and belonging to something global. I don’t believe there is a right or a wrong decision (working for someone or starting your own venture), its a matter of doing what will bring you the biggest satisfaction. 
Your life as an entrepreneur in one word?
What are the most important features to have in order to become an entrepreneur?
Humble in our aspirations, gracious in our success and resilient in our failures. 
If you had one piece of advice for someone that is just starting what would it be?
Enjoy every day of the venture, it will never get easier and will never turn out as expected. It is important to have a clear why you are starting the business. 
Do you intend to expand soon?
We are expanding. We have growth over the past six years 100%+ each year in terms of number of clients, revenue and loan balance. 
Do you count with external founding? Do you believe that it is possible to start with little or no money?
It is possible to start with little money, we did it and I believe it is even a smarter choice. It will make you work smarter, understand the business and envieronment in more depth to allocate the small resources in the best way possible. We do have external founding private and from the Mexican government. 
What is the thing that motivates you the most about your project?
Understanding that each day there is something we will and need to learn, that no matter how much we work, study, learn, win or loose there will be more to be done. For us it is not anymore about a tangible value, a specific value or income that the company achieves (must admit though it motivates and it still is important), it is today about allowing to become better and enriching our environment through our WHY.
If you could time travel back to day one of your startup and have 15min with your former self to communicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heartache, what would you tell yourself?
There will always be pressure to perform, to achieve and to succeed. Success is a matter of perspectives but it doesn’t matter what that perspective is it will involve pressure and stress… Enjoy the ride, understand that ego will get in the way and everything that can go wrong will; but this doesn’t mean you will fail, be unsuccesful and not happy.  


Escrito el 29 septiembre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender



Sellers N Bloggers, a platform that allows you for the first time to buy through a Buying Tag any piece of clothing or accessory that a blogger has featured in his/her blog, is now in Area 31. We interviewed Ignacio and Rodolfo, two of the founders to tell us their story:


Imagen de previsualización de YouTube


Ignacio Quintanilla (Sellers and Bloggers Co-Founder) worked for BBVA in Madrid as a Senior Manager of Business development for South America for 20 years. Given all the travelling, and all the flight hours that he had to undertake, he decided to create a fashion and lifestyle blog called “Estilo Estilosisimo”. One  day Sergio Serrano (another Sellers and Bloggers Co-Founder) who lived in Ciudad Real, Spain,  and who was still studying at university a Data Management Masters and who is a Informational Systems Management Engineer, contacted Ignacio through his blog, asking who he was, as Estilo Estilosisimo had never disclosed his real identity. They started talking and some time after, they decided to meet for a coffee. Suddenly, they got to the conclusion that many of their followers kept asking where  to buy the clothes that had been posted in the blog. “How do I buy that shirt..? I can’t find it in the web page… How do I do to get that piece of clothing delivered to Chile if it’s from a shop in Madrid?At this point, Ignacio realized due to all these requests, he was trying all his best to find those clothes in the Internet for his followers in order  to make his followers’ life easier.

Some time later, Ignacio met Diego Argulú, founder of Gropupon in Perú and who later created Turismoi. They discussed Ignacio and Sergio’s idea about creating something that would allow bloggers’ followers to buy a product directly from a blog. After some days, Diego called Igancio explaining that he had found no one, not even in different startups accelerators and incubators around the world, working is a similar idea as Ignacio and Sergio’s.

As Diego saw that there really was an existing need, he stated that he wanted like to participate in the project. At the same time Rodolfo, another of the Co-founders, was working in Area 31 for another Startup called Magnolia, to which he was the only being actually committed. So after some conversations and assumptions made, they estimated that with an investment of 35.000 euros they could actually build a proper MVP. And that is how it all started. Ignacio who was still working for BBVA, left the bank, and they formed a team of Sergio and Ignacio (both previous bloggers), and Rodolfo and Diego who had previous experience with web development, and in November 2015,they started working on the venture.

It all started with some discussions between the two bloggers, who were driven by exquisite design, and the technological  functional part of the team. However, finally in April they had a full operational MVP when the… “How do we sell this” question came up. Here Ignacio entered the startup as the CEO who re-thought the whole commercial part of the startup.

Some months later, in June, they won Conector Startup Competition Bis in Barcelona.. and thenthey thought… “This can´t be such a bad idea after all, right…?”  Later in September they won the first place the Best Fashion E-commerce, and decide to incorporate Conector as a partner in order to have easier  access to investment in Catalonia, where they usually attend some board meetings. 




So how does Sellers N Blogger really work then?

The main players in this game are the mainly  Fashion bloggers and the brands that wish to be featured in different blogs. Brands who are incorporated have access to the platform to upload all the products they wish to sell. Then the bloggers incrporated in the platform can request to wear and feature those products in their blogs, and followers will then have the option to buy directly from the blog, though the Sellers N Bloggers Buying Tag by cliking on the picture. They will then be directed to Sellers N Bloggers platform where they can easily purchase the product in a few clicks. From each product sold there is a commission charged by the platform. 80% is for the blogger and 20% for SNB. 

The platform has rather taken advantage of the digital streets such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter rather than having their own platform. In this way, customers buy through their platform by accessing their favorite influencers’ blogs which they find by following them through Instagram, Facebook or any other social network. Hence, they are looking at products that bloggers who they already follow wear. 

The benefit for the brands is the inexistance of costs until there is a sale through the platform which seems more effective and tangible, compared to the less intangible profit for brands when they provide a blogger a piece of clothing as a gift to give a brand some visiility thorugh the bloggers followers. 

“We see the blogger as the showcase of the brand. We do not want to sell consumers something that they do not want to buy, so we allow them to follow the influcencers that they like, and then we offer them the possibilty of buying those clothes featured in their blogs, rather than us telling them what to follow and what to buy.”

They have managed to create a great community through which both brands and bloggers can communicate and both the bloggers can bring more brands and the brands can bring more bloggers into the platform.

“As entrepreneurs, to describe our life in one word, it would be: perseverance and a 24/7 work. We believe that the biggest mistake has not yet arrived, but we are sure that it will soon come. The advice that we would give an entrepreneur who was about to start, would be that he/she should leave everything behind.”



Read Sellers N Bloggers Article featured in La Razón.


Agenda IE Venture Network Weeklies Madrid, September 29th 2016

Escrito el 28 septiembre 2016 por entrepreneurship en emprender

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