International MBA graduate and MBA entrepreneur Erick shares his story!
Organisations today require MBA entrepreneurs that can spot and develop new business opportunities, marshal necessary resources and build effective relationships. The International MBA from EMLYON, voted the 10th in the world for entrepreneurship by the Financial Times in 2014 attracts many MBA candidates that are interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial MBA career path, whether that’s launching their own startup or being an innovator within an organisation. The International Master in Business Administration’s uniquely entrepreneurial pedagogy focuses on providing future entrepreneurial business leaders with the skills they need to succeed through a combinations of learning trips, courses, attending the World Entrepreneurship Forum and the 9 month-part time consulting Entrepreneurial Leadership Project.
Graduate Erick Balderas Moreno chose the Masters Business Administration programme from EMLYON to learn how to become an MBA entrepreneur. Since completing the MBA in 2009, Erick has since launched two successful ventures in his home country of Mexico. We caught up with Erick to tell us more about his most recent venture, Wedgewood Furniture and how the programme’s focus on entrepreneurship continues to benefit his career today.
Erick, as an MBA entrepreneur, could you tell us more about your career path after graduation?
When I returned to Mexico after the International MBA, I started my first venture, a company called Popett that designs and produces Point of Purchase (POP) elements and displays. I partnered with my brother in law, an industrial designer with lot of experience in POP, very well connected, with a deep knowledge of technologies and suppliers in the industry, as well as a base of faithful customers. The business did very well and it was a great experience. However in 2011 we started to see that competitors were greater in number and customers were choosing lower prices over high quality production. It was time then to look at something different.
In the meantime we started to design and produce some prototypes of a line of furniture made of bamboo for an American customer, Gifford Cochran, who had been making customized furniture since 1995. He designed a line of furniture with unique features that could be mass produced. After some months of hard work and far from being ready to launch the product line to the market, we proposed a partnership to Gifford to create a new company. It was a natural jump to a very promising business. Wedgewood Furniture was inspired by the desire to produce a line of indoor/outdoor furniture that could be flat packed, assembled and disassembled quickly without tools or fasteners and be easily treated with eco-friendly finishes.
Nowadays we have two lines: the Beat line with a more modern look which we are selling in Mexico and the Palladian line which is sold in the USA. We are positioning the furniture in Mexico as a designer line and in the USA as furniture for outdoor use, due to the size of the market and American purchasing power. For my part, I develop the different strategies to market the company in Mexico and in the USA, as well as deal with all the importing/exporting processes.
Did you know before the International MBA programme that you wanted to launch your own company?
Yes I did. When I was looking for a school to do my MBA, I chose EMLYON Business School because of its focus on entrepreneurship. When I left Mexico it was my mission to get educated on entrepreneurship to be successful at starting my own venture.
How did the International MBA programme’s focus on entrepreneurship benefit you when starting your own company?
At EMLYON, I learnt how to successfully identify and assess opportunities and to go for them. I also learnt how to apply due diligence and to recognize when something will not work beforehand.
I also learnt that the path to success as an MBA entrepreneur is not straight forward. It requires patience, it has a lot of turns and many times you will feel like you are going nowhere. I learnt that for sure you will fall and that you must get up again. And I learnt that you must take away the good things you learned from a failure and apply them in your next venture.
What was the benefit of studying with such an international cohort?
I took from the experience the chance to learn from different cultures, business backgrounds and leadership styles. Team working with such a diverse group of people was at many times challenging but in the end, it was always a useful experience. I am also able to work and feel confident, anywhere with anyone. Finally, I made friendships during the International Master of Business Administration that will probably last forever.
Does the International MBA experience still benefit you and your career today since graduating in 2009?
Of course! It was one of the smartest and best decisions I made in my whole life so far. I joined a worldwide recognized business MBA programme with a focus on entrepreneurship where I learned a lot inside and outside the classroom which helped me very much in making smarter decisions in terms of starting a new venture.
I did an exchange programme at Lancaster University in the UK where I complemented what I learned at EMLYON through a different style of teaching. During the exchange programme, I got to know new cultures and made new friends.
What was the biggest take-away of the International MBA programme from EMLYON?
The experience as a whole. Everything I learned at EMLYON: the learning trips, the conferences, the chance to benchmark myself and to know what I needed to improve, the Entrepreneurial Leadership Project giving me the chance to consult a company, to meet wonderful people, to improve my team working skills, the food that I ate, the places I visited and to convince myself that I needed to start my own venture.
Thank you to Erick for sharing his International MBA experience! Discover more MBA graduate interviews here.
About Wedgewood Furniture
Wedgewood Furniture is based in Mexico City and was inspired by a desire to produce a line of indoor/outdoor furniture that could be flat packed, assembled and disassembled quickly without tools or fasteners, and be easily treated with eco-friendly finishes. And because practical can also be beautiful, our products have a sophisticated, elegant look that’s rare in the ‘pack flat, tool-free, and green’ segment of the furniture market.
Wedgewood Furniture uses bamboo plywood not just for its beauty, strength, and durability, but also because of its eco-friendly, sustainable nature. Our materials are sourced from manufacturers of FSC-certified products that use ‘no-added-urea-formaldehyde’ (NAUF) adhesives, and employ environmentally conscious practices. The Moso bamboo used in our furniture grows to harvestable size in 5–6 years, as compared to the 80-year production cycle of hardwood trees. Of critical importance, all of our products are “panda friendly,” in that the animals do not eat Moso bamboo.