During the last couple of months, we have been collaborating with a group of MBA students from the IMD Business School in Lausanne in order to get an external view of our business development. This collaboration has been a part of the yearly IMD Start-up competition. Every year, regional start-ups can apply to become a part of the collaboration. This year, 130 early-stage companies from a wide range of different industries applied to become a part of the collaboration, and 27 of the applicants were chosen (15 for the MBA program, and 12 for the Executive MBA program). We were very lucky to be one of the chosen companies!

IMD Start-up competition

The IMD competition was established in 1999 with a unique opportunity for regional start-ups to benefit from the help from the participants in the MBA and the Executive MBA programs. The IMD competition is launched together with Innosuisse, VentureKick, MassChallenge and investiere. There are two main objectives of the competition:

  1. Provide a hands-on experience in entrepreneurship and new ventures for the MBA and EMBA classes.
  2. Provide input and support to regional early-stage companies in order to improve their chances of funding and success.

A team of 5-7 students was assigned to each start-up to help formalize its business model and financing plans. All start-ups worked closely with their MBA collaborators while focusing on developing the customer value proposition, supply-chain management, and market entry strategies. Each team is also assigned a coach provided internally from the IMD School. Example of other start-ups in this year’s collaboration were Biovotion, CodeCheck, FotoKite and Picterra. Read more about the rest of the chosen start-ups here.

Each group of students was able to choose among all of the early-stage companies, and we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to work with Hassan Abdel Fattah, Rodrigo Freire, Rodrigo Freire, Maksim Iavorskii, Shubham Jain, Ilgin Kendigelen and Jag Minhas during the first months of 2018.

Thoughts about the collaboration

I got a chance to ask a few questions to Shubham from the MBA class, and to Mitch, our business developer responsible for the IMD collaboration, what they think about the collaboration.

Shubham, MBA candidate at IMD Lausanne

Why did you choose Matchmore?
IoT and connectivity will be the future, there are various things being done by some of the biggest companies in this field but to a lot of people, this is still difficult to comprehend. Going forward in businesses, there will be a requirement to understand most of the digital technologies and understand how businesses can be impacted by these innovations.

The start-up competition was an ideal way to understand a bit more about the technology and simultaneously learn how a start-up works, especially as most hadn’t worked in a start-up environment prior to the MBA. The team believed that the scope of learning and growth would be great when working with Matchmore and we would be able to use the technology in our future businesses.

What task(s) did you work on with us?
We worked on the validation of Matchmore’s current business concept, searched for potential clients and the identification and prioritization of use-cases from a value and complexity perspective. In addition to this, we also worked on the validation of the business model within selected three business cases with potential clients as well as preparation of sales-pitch.

What were your recommendations for us?
On a broad level, we recommended using an outside-in approach to identify customer pain-points. We also suggested providing an end-to-end solution (for both advertisement agencies and farmers).

What role did your coach play?
Our coach helped us validate our ideas and strategy. He also challenged our thinking and reoriented us whenever we were going in the wrong direction.

What did you learn from working with us?
We learned that an “outside-in” and design thinking could be a smarter approach for technology start-ups. Also, speed to market and agility is critical. A venture should be launched at the right time and the technology offered should be timely. Otherwise you may run the risk of competition catching up and difficulty in identifying or/and developing your unique value proposition. It is also highly important to focus on the customers and market – might need to pivot in order to take the first steps towards commercialization.

Mitch, business developer at Matchmore

Overall, how was the collaboration with the IMD participants?
The team was highly motivated with a lot of experience and a large array of expertise which we could benefit from.

What did Matchmore gain from the collaboration?
We learned that valuable use cases are not obvious. We have also confirmed the fact that business clients are often more interested in full solutions rather than just the technology.

What did you, as an individual, learn from the collaboration?
It’s a real advantage to have opinions of people with different backgrounds. I’ve also learned the necessity of making good follow-ups on this kind of projects, so our external partners keep track with our fast-paced reality.

Further reading

If you are more interested in reading about the IMD Start-up competition, here are some articles I recommend IMD Start-up Competition 2017/2018, 27 Start-ups selected for the IMD Start-up Competition 2017/2018 and IMD Startup Competition: call for applications.