Name: Juan Diego Cespedes

Nationality: Colombian

Background: Project Management / Civil Engineering

Coming from the innovation tradition of the Politecnico di Milano, as part of  the MIP MBA program we (students) have to take a Business Plan course. Additional to the course, all students have to make some entrepreneurship practice, either pursuing their own business idea (entrepreneurial track) or working with an existing entrepreneur in launching their business (Business Plan Lab). The entrepreneurial path course is called The Lean Launch Pad and is one of the greatest experiences I have had during this year.

The Lean Launch Pad is a methodology widely used in the United States that challenges the usual paradigm of a business plan. Instead of having an idea and start developing a business plan from it, you start by getting out of the building and talking to people to try to make your offer clearer for the potential customers, partners and for yourself. The whole process of defining your business becomes a loop where the idea is constantly been reshaped.

When I came to the MBA I did not have an entrepreneurial idea and, actually, I did not plan to do any entrepreneurial activity. However, once the course was presented I got curious about the topic. Sadly few weeks before the application to the course I had not been able to find an idea to develop. One day, just two weeks before the application deadline, I received an e-mail from a class mate telling me he would like to make me an offer. To my happiness and surprise, two colleagues were recruiting a team to explore the entrepreneurial track. Immediately I was in!

Lean-launch-padDuring our first meeting we realized that none of us had an idea. Nonetheless as a team we came up with something that we thought could have potential. After a week of work we presented our application and were one of the two selected teams to follow the course. Afterwards we realized that the idea is the least important thing, what matters is your team and your willingness to make it happen.

This year is the first time that this methodology has been applied in MIP. The teaching team is composed by four entrepreneurs that are constantly encouraging and helping us shape our ideas. They have become part of our teams.  The course has been very challenging, each week, on top of the full-time schedule of the MBA we dedicate at least 10 additional hours of work.

By now we have almost finished the course and our idea has had a total change from the beginning. I do not know if this is going to be a successful commercial in the long run, but I am sure that after developing the idea in this course we have a concrete business that could be tested in reality. Moreover, just the academic experience has been fantastic. Working long hours with an international team, going out of the building to talk to people and making weekly presentations has improved my soft skills. Moreover, I consider that this methodology will certainly be useful for future endeavors.