Winners of i2i Consulting Lab propose Bitcoin grocery rewards

Written on November 24, 2014 by MIM Blog in News

During IE’s recent i2i Consulting Lab, MIM students were faced with a challenge that even the most seasoned Bitcoin entrepreneurs have yet to solve: how to achieve the widespread understanding and use of the digital currency.

 BITCOIN WinnersOne solution: give Bitcoin away for “free” as a promotional reward for grocery store purchases. That was the gist of the proposal from the winning team made up of Andrea Zaga, Arturo Iglesias, Italo Aquiles Pizzolante, Itziar Maroto, Juan Ignacio Ramón, Paula Virosque, Rocío Sánchez and Rodrigo da Rosa.

They were one of the 42 teams made up of a total of 318 Master in Management students who were tasked with finding ways to improve the utility and usability of Bitcoin.

Students started the weeklong project by getting out on the street and talking to shop owners and potential users of Bitcoin. With their market research in hand, they used Design Thinking Methodology to analyze their findings and come up with creative solutions.

 The top seven teams made presentations to a panel of judges, made up of Bitcoin entrepreneurs including Nicolas Cary, CEO of the leading Bitcoin wallet, Blockchain, as well as representatives of Bitcoin start-ups AvatarBTC, Coinffeine, and ATM Bitcoin Spain.

Five of the teams were from the Master in Management’s English track and two from the Spanish track. “BitProducts” was the title of the winning project, which came from one of the Spanish track teams. Their idea is to partner with food brands to offer Bitcoins as a reward for purchases.  Upon checkout at the supermarket, the person would receive a QR Code on their receipt, as well as a recommendation for Bitcoin wallet software to redeem them.

 Once someone has Bitcoins, chances are they will find a way to spend them,” said Paula Virosque, during the team’s presentation. She said her team decided to focus on supermarkets because its where Spaniards make the most transactions, and associating the digital currency with well-known brands would help build trust.

“What’s brilliant about this idea is that it’s so simple, yet no one’s done it. You’re proposing something incredibly practical,” said José Luis Várez Benegas, member of the judges panel and co-founder of AvatarBTC, a Spanish Bitcoin exchange platform that launched earlier this year.

Most students said they knew almost nothing about Bitcoin before starting the project.

“I think it’s a very good idea as an investment tool, but implementing it as a physical payment method is tough,” said Daniel Colino, a Spanish student who grew up in Luxemburg who was on one of the finalist teams. His team proposed a niche online shop for selling local goods in Bitcoin.

BITCOIN conference 027The i2i challenge came at a time when Bitcoin startups seem to be gaining traction in Spain.   An organization called Bitcoin Spain is behind efforts that have led more than 50 brick-and-mortar stores to start accepting Bitcoin in Madrid. Most of them are on Calle Serrano, which has been dubbed “Bitcoin Boulevard Spain.”  (Link: http://callebitcoin.es/english.html). There are also new Bitcoin ATMs, where Bitcoin can be bought and sold, in both Madrid and Barcelona. ATM Bitcoin Spain plans to install about 100 ATMs around the country over the next few months. (Link: http://www.atmbitcoinspain.es/)

 As part of their market research, most students visited Calle Serrano, the luxury shopping street that runs through IE’s campus, to try using Bitcoin at one of the shops. But most said they faced challenges, upon entering one of the stores that said Bitcoin was accepted.

“Most shops that say they accept Bitcoin aren’t prepared to make a transaction,” said Felice Biancardi, a MIM student from Italy.

 He noted that it is much easier to buy things with cash or credit card, and there’s no incentive for a shopper to use Bitcoin. Those were among the most common Bitcoin challenges all teams identified, as well as the perceived volatility of the digital currency. People don’t see it as a safe payment method. But many students came up with innovative solutions. One team proposed a bitcoin keychain or credit card that would allow Bitcoin purchases for small amounts that would fall under the credit card limit at many local shops. Another proposed a mobile application where Bitcoin could be used for online gaming.

 The i2i Consulting Lab takes place twice per year with each intake of the Master in Management program, where students tackle a real world business problem. The judges said the outcome of the Bitcoin challenge went above and beyond their expectations. “It’s impressive the work they’ve done in such a short amount of time,” said Carlos Lobato, of ATM Bitcoin Spain.

 Nicolas Cary, of Blockchain, said the quality of the presentations matched those he has seen from funded start-ups.

 “The teams clearly used professional frameworks for evaluating problems and bringing solutions forward,” he said. Cary encouraged students to pursue their ideas further, noting that more than $300 million in venture capital has been invested in Bitcoin businesses to date.

 BITCOIN Winners 1

Follow the conversation on twitter here https://twitter.com/search?q=iemim

See us mentioned in the magazine SobreBitcoin http://sobrebitcoin.com/2014/11/19/bitcoin-llega-al-business-school/



Key dates for the February 2015 intake

Written on November 20, 2014 by MIM Blog in News

Experiences that will change your life are awaiting you right here at IE. Thus, if you are ready for changes, the top ranked Master in Management program is an option you might want to consider.

The key dates for the February 2015 intake are:

  • Opening Ceremony: February 3rd 2015
  • Graduation: December 18th 2015

Please remember that IE has a rolling admissions procedure which means that there are no explicit application deadlines. You can find the online application here!!

Las experiencias que te cambiarán de por vida están esperándote aquí en IE Business School. Si te sientes preparado(a) para esto, el prestigioso programa Master in Management podría ser una opción para ti.  Las fechas más importantes para la convocatoria de Febrero 2014 son las siguientes:

  • Ceremonia de Apertura: 3 de febrero 2015
  • Graduación: 18 de diciembre de 2015

No olvides que nuestro proceso de admisión es continuo, es decir, no tenemos fecha límite de solicitud para ninguna de las dos convocatorias anuales. Puedes encontrar nuestra solicitud online aquí!


Seven unforgettable days in Rio de Janeiro

Written on November 19, 2014 by MIM Blog in News

Interview with Yury Kotikov, current Master in Management student 

Yury, you just came back from Rio de Janeiro as part of the Global Immersion Week program. How was it?

“It was absolutely unforgettable! I fell in love with Brazil and I honestly think that Rio is the most beautiful city that I’ve ever been too! We had a very busy but extremely interesting program. I am still overwhelmed by the impressions.”

Rio de Janeiro 5 Rio de Janeiro 2 Yury








Sounds great! But let’s start from the beginning. What is Global Immersion Experience and why did you decide to participate in it?

“IE is known for its diversity and internationality. In total, we have around 80 nationalities on campus and it’s not unusual to have 40 different nations represented in one classroom. So, for a school like that it’s important that the students get exposed to different cultures and business environments not only in the classroom, but also on the ground. Hence, the Global Immersion Week, or in other words, a week-long trip to one of three countries on offer that includes meeting with local business leaders, attending lectures and simply diving into the local culture.

This year the countries offered by the MIM program management were Brazil (as one of the most promising emerging markets), Israel (a start-up paradise and the next Silicon Valley) and Ghana as an example of the country that runs a successful micro-financing program. I chose Brazil because of my interest and experience in emerging markets, and the scholarship covering the travel costs, which I received from the program was one more argument in its favor. Even before we boarded the plane to Rio, we were very well prepared for the trip. The program director developed a very thorough brochure with the information on the country and the plan of our stay.”

And what was in that plan?

“Our program in Brazil was very intensive and consisted of two parts: meeting major local and global businesses and visiting famous touristic spots.”

Let’s start with the business part of our program. Whom did you meet in Rio?

Rio de Janeiro 4 Yury“Our first visit was to Globo TV, a major TV company in LATAM and Brazil’s biggest TV channel. If you look at the Rio landscape you can’t help noticing Globo TV’s satellite plates almost on each roof. We visited the real Brazil’s Hollywood with its huge pavilions, many offices and studios. It was like a city within another city! This is where all major Brazilian telenovelas are being shot. Although not a big telenovelafan myself, I founded it anyhow extremely impressive.

On the same day, as a logical continuation of the “Hollywood” visit, we drove to the Brazilian “Beverly Hills” – Barra de Tijuca beach – where most of the Brazilian soccer players live. Beautiful houses, breathtaking views – Barra de Tijuca looks like a fairy tale.

But let’s come back to the business part of our week. Next, we visited Invepar, a large business group which operates in the transportation infrastructure segment in Brazil and was in particular responsible for ensuring reliable and trouble-free infrastructure during the Football World Championship this year. We were even allowed into the Rio Subway control center and could see with our own eyes what it takes to manage infrastructure in a large city like Rio de Janeiro.  

Another extremely interesting meeting was with the management of the Morar verde carioca project – a social initiative to rebuild and modernize infamous Rio slums (or called “favelas” in the local language). More than 20% of the city’s population live in informal settlements which are almost inadequate for living. Next to luxurious hotels and beautiful houses you can’t help noticing the sharply contrasting slums on the hills.  They create favorable environment for crimes and social problems. We met with the people responsible for the Morar Verde carioca project aimed to help the situation in one of the favelas. It envisages rebuilding the houses, setting the infrastructure and working with young people living there. We were inside a typical Rio slum and even had lunch in a local restaurant. By the way, the food was excellent and the prices were very reasonable!  

Another bright impression of the trip was visiting the City of Rio de Janeiro Operations Center that was created several years ago to fight against natural disasters and emergency situations. Operators gather and process the information on weather forecast, infrastructure readiness in case of force majeur, etc. and have the most detailed information on each house available, for instance, if there are handicaps living there and their point of contact. It is brand-new center that employs 900 operators who work 24/7 using the most cutting-edge technology.

Then, there was Meu Porto Maravilha – an old shabby port which will be rebuilt into a modern downtown neighborhood. The most interesting thing is that it is going to be done using very innovative financial models, so it was also relevant from a business stand-point.

Also extremely impressive was the visit to General Electric research center located on the ocean shore with a magnificent view out of the windows and superb working conditions with relaxation rooms, café, gym and much more. Instead of the planned one hour we spent three hours there and would have even stayed longer – there was so much to see and hear!

In fact, there is so much to tell about our stay in Rio, because the program was very rich, but I think I have to stop here to spare the time of the readers.”

Rio de Janeiro 1 YuryOur trip was extremely well organized thanks to the efforts of IE graduates, IE professors, namely,  Jesus Guerro and of course the program management,  particularly, Krystina dos Santos. Thank you all very much!


Looks like you were really busy in Rio! Did you manage to get some rest and visit at least a few tourist spots?

“Of course! We saw all major places of interest and had an unforgettable time in Rio! It was an absolutely unique experience for me. Visiting so many different businesses and seeing the city’s many faces – from the “Beverly Hills” to favelas – was an eye-opener for me! Besides, it was a great team building for the group. The trip helped us get to know each other better and become real friends. In one word: amazing! Now I know where I will spend my next vacation after the graduation!”


Thank you very much, Yury, and good luck with your finals!



Let’s go to Ghana with the Global Immersion Experience!

Written on November 13, 2014 by MIM Blog in News

Post written by  Deepu, Juan, Teresa, and Emily (MIM team from Ghana) current Master in Management students 

While some were soaking up the sun in glitzy Rio and others were living it up in Tel Aviv, Global immersion Experience found us bouncing around in the back of a rickety bus, traversing pothole ridden streets.  Not the most comfortable of rides but our trip to Ghana would prove the most eye-opening adventure of our lives. An unknown culture, working with institutions that were unlike any we had ever studied, and to top it off an Ebola scare in West Africa, the place we had chosen to go.

Ghana1 Ghana7Ghana2Ghana3







What did we decide you ask? To Ghana we go!!!

Visiting the clients in the Accra slums proved to be different that we had anticipated, many were people that we couldn’t even begin to try to relate with. However, through talking to them and having interviews, we realized how useless our business jargon was, but that we just had to talk in a way that they would allow them to understand us, and us them. Imagine working with a client who doesn’t know basic costs, their loan interest rates, or how much they make per month

An even more shocking experience was visiting the rural and poorest community of people of Ghana, the farmers and agricultural families. A new institution to analyze and another two hour bumpy bus ride away, we found a small village. When we arrived there, the people were very welcoming, and we saw just how different their community was. Many in this particular community are still living in mud huts, without electricity, and in a sense disconnected from society. As we arrived the people greeted us with big smiles, clapping, and dancing. We proceeded with introducing ourselves by our Ghanaian names, Adwoa, Abenaa, Kwaku, Yao.


Students visiting a village in Ghana

Regardless of disconnect in culture, language, race, or education, they expressed so much gratefulness just to see our faces and were happy to show us their farms and their products, as well as their life. As well, the kids were ecstatic to see us and it was impossible to leave without an uplifted spirit. With this short visit we had to try to grasp all the information and experience to develop a plan to help our new friends. At the end we realized it was all about understanding and learning from the people, how they think. All in all, it was a really eye-opening experience to see just how deep Micro-Financing can really have an impact.

All work and no play? Now let’s be serious! In the end we also had time to chill, let go, and explore Ghana. We went to Kakum National Park to hike and discover the canopy walk, we enjoyed the beautiful beach of Ghana while drinking fresh coco’s, we tried new food and explored new ways of eating, and had an amazing last day complete with an adventure on a wooden boat to visit different island complete with crocodile hunters, rum makers, had a meal of freshly caught seafood complete with Ghanaian beer, and finally ended with a jet-ski ride where the river met the ocean. We ended blissfully sun-kissed and happy for our experiences before flying back to Istanbul then Madrid.

A trip where we started as colleagues, we would end as lifelong friends.  We owe a debt of gratitude to IE and Financieros sin Fronteras for providing us the opportunity to form such strong bonds of friendship, and for organizing this unconventional and challenging experience that will live long in our memories.



Anton Khaburskiy, Russian MIM alumnus working in consulting

Written on November 11, 2014 by MIM Blog in News

Interview with Anton Khaburskiy, Master in Management alumnus class of 2011 

Anton Khaburskiy Russia



“I came to IE to study marketing, but got an unforgettable, life-changing experience.”


Before joining IE, Anton Khaburskiy already had a successful career with the Coca-Cola Company, but the Master in Management (MIM) from IE Business School gave his career a new boost. Anton is now consultant at one of the best management consulting firms – Bain & CompanyWe are speaking with him today about his experience at IE and how it helped his professional and personal development.



  1. For a bright individual like you many doors were opened at many universities around the world. Why did you choose IE among the many?

 After graduating from the State University of Management in Moscow majoring in economics, I gained my first working experience in a large international company. However, after some time I realized that I want to continue education in a reputable western university. The turning point leading to this decision was a case competition in Dubai organized by KMPG. It was extremely international with participants from all over the world and lots of team work. And it was exactly what I liked about the competition: learning from other people of various backgrounds, exchanging ideas and thus growing professionally and personally. Upon my return from Dubai, the decision was made: I want to study in exactly the same diverse and stimulating environment. And I started the search.

 Three criteria were of outmost importance to me. First of all, diversity, or in other words, having many different nationalities and various backgrounds in the classroom. Secondly, practical approach: learning from professors who have experience in the business world and apply a case-based teaching method. And thirdly, reputation reflected in rankings and opinions about a school in business circles. IE scored highest on these criteria and soon I was on my way to Madrid.

  1. What were your expectations of the program and to what extent were they fulfilled?

I was 23 back then and very much interested in marketing. I thought that the MIM program would help me gain more insight into the discipline and allow to approach marketing problems from a managerial point of view. However, a year at IE gave me much more than that. It allowed to gain a broad, strategic understanding of business in general and shaped my understanding of various business processes.

 To my surprise, I was enjoying such classes like business processes, HR strategy, organizational behaviour no less than I was enjoying marketing disciplines. Moreover, I was savouring various project-based activities: having a problem that needed to be solved in the most effective manner under a certain deadline. This is when I started realizing how interesting management consulting could be.

 Frankly speaking, at the beginning, I didn’t know what to expect of the program. It was a totally new experience for me. But soon, I realized that it was much more than business education. It was a year filled with new opportunities, meeting amazing people, trying new things, participating in many exciting activities, while staying in a low-risk environment. Now I understand that it was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

  1. It was a full-time master, which means that you had a privilege of living in one of the most beautiful cities of the world – in Madrid – for a year. How did that go?

 I absolutely enjoyed it and was feeling very comfortably in Madrid. I shared an apartment with three more MIM students from other sections, and it was great. We organized lots of parties there, and I think there was hardly one MIM student that has never been in our apartment at some point during the year. So, in all respects, that year was magnificent.

  1. After the master, what was your experience finding a job? How relevant is what you learned at IE for your everyday work?

The program itself gave an idea of management consulting: solving problems, working in teams, on tight deadlines. The program also allowed me to better understand various business problems, connections among them and why they are so important for the management. I learned many practical tools that I am applying in my work, such as statistics, business information, marketing, etc. But most importantly, thanks to the MIM program, I acquired skills that are key in management consulting:  problem-solving (structuring, finding connections and organizing business process), team work (long hours spent working in groups turned out to be very helpful) and presentational skills that help to sell ideas.

Speaking of the job search, having Europe’s best business school in a resume definitely helps. I had interviews in Spain, Germany and Dubai, which I got thanks to the IE network. The dedicated career center was very helpful, while IE’s extensive connections in the business world were definitely a big advantage.

  1. What are you missing most after graduating from IE in 2011?

What I am missing most is that unique environment that allowed me to press “pause” on the old life with its commitments and instead to feel free to try new things, experiment and implement new ideas. The environment filled with talented people. The environment that encourages creativity and unconventionality.

  1. And finally … a few words of wisdom from a successful IE graduate for future master students.

I recommend to get the maximum out of the year. IE has so much to offer! Participate in various clubs, attend events, go out and meet people! And definitely take time to discover the city and Spain in general. And then a year at IE will become priceless. 

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