INSEAD entrepreneurial spirit thrives in our alumni network

INSEAD alumni encourage entrepreneurship through engaging workshops, bootcamps and forums around the globe

Entrepreneurship has been one of the key pillars since INSEAD’s inception. Over the years the school has fostered research, innovative teaching, case writing and boot-camps. No wonder entrepreneurship has inspired many INSEAD alumni, first to join the school, then to switch gears in their career and become an entrepreneur at some point, or alternatively to invest in promising entrepreneurship ventures, including social entrepreneurship to give back to society.

In this context, many initiatives continue to blossom on campus:

  • faculty creating an Entrepreneurship “reality show” (Your First Hundred Days)
  • an “ideation” course in P3 (Identifying New Business Models)
  • “create-with-a-programmer” sessions in P5 (Tech Practicum)
  • INSEAD creating a Centre for Entrepreneurship (ICE) back in 2003 and now developing digital classes on the topic
  • creating a Launch Pad at Station F in Paris (EMEA’s largest incubator)
  • and soon a new facility in San Francisco!

There are so many initiatives, it’s impossible to list them all.

As Dean of INSEAD, Ilian Mihov, often recalls that more than 50% of INSEAD alumni will venture into entrepreneurship at some point in their career. Needless to say, that this translates into many initiatives at a local level in all our alumni networks – through networking, career workshops, funding pitches, entrepreneurship forums and (finally!) entrepreneurship awards. These initiatives mushroom and confront would-be-entrepreneurs, start-uppers, serial entrepreneurs, business angels and an eco-system often not limited to INSEAD alumni but enabled by the common experiences from Fontainebleau, Singapore or Abu Dhabi.
more than 50% of INSEAD alumni will venture into entrepreneurship at some point in their career.

For the Global Entrepreneurship Club, we listed all those “magical” initiatives to foster further ideas in our 49 National Alumni Associations. And guess what? We created more than 180 events per year with a diversity that is breathtaking: the sky is the limit in terms of creativity. The events blew our minds with the INSEAD spirit inspiring each of us.

Our Dutch alumni organised a “Tame the Techies” workshop to demystify the technologies related to IT development and to discuss how to best interact with those who practice it, a real manual for 101 communications between business and techies.

Our French alumni created a Pitch Lab to train fellow alumni (about to start fundraising) to test their pitches and Q&A capabilities in front of an audience of investors, entrepreneurs and executives. A last acid test before the real start with a 5min pitch, a 10min Q&A and a real-life feedback. With over 50 sessions under their belt, this is just one of the many success stories.

Another concept was to leverage “the wisdom of the crowd”: in the Business Lab, an entrepreneur shares his business issues in a judgment-free environment and gets valuable feedback from the audience: including advice on specific issues and an evaluation of his/her whole business model. Discussions, held in subgroups, bring value and diversity!

Another team created “INSEAD Vertical”, analysing an entire industry through the lens of entrepreneurship. Food was a big success, featuring four start-ups, Michel de Rovira (MBA’04D, founder of “Michel et Augustin”), CEOs of food store concepts, food PE investors and even a food banker!

When we try to understand why some ventures experience such massive growth, the answer is often—INSEAD “Hacking Growth” Club! Many disruptive concepts like Uber are spotted and dissected to share and learn from their experience!

Our German alumni hold a record in the number of Entrepreneurship Forums held: for 20 years, they succeeded in mixing INSEAD faculty, alumni war stories, new entrepreneurship trends and vivid discussions. US, Canadian and Spanish alumni followed this pattern soon after.

Our Luxembourg and Swiss alumni “walk the talk”: they walk through the plans while the entrepreneur talks about his successes and challenges!

Our Brazilian alumni revived the INSEAD Entrepreneurship Boot-camp that we experienced on campus. Alumni love it as they get the chance to step back and take time to develop venture ideas. This has been adopted by Denmark and some other countries.

Our Portuguese alumni created and exported the Entrepreneurship Awards in several geographies, not only with a view to make it a celebration of great entrepreneurship achievements, but also to show the role of entrepreneurs in society and to proudly keep the INSEAD brand at the pinnacle of entrepreneurship success stories!

It is difficult to name every good idea our alumni networks have come up with. There’s no telling what the future holds!

Please share your views and initiatives on Entrepreneurship. We will spread the word and generate new opportunities for our alumni. Contact Jean-Philippe Grosmaitre MBA’99J or Guillaume  Loth Demay YMP S/F’05Sep.

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