Entrepreneurs who are CEOs

  • Three MBA students discuss their experiences as entrepreneurs and directors of their own companies.

For many people, being a CEO is synonymous with power, high net worth, or being a business magnate. But it’s not always like this. Manel, Albert and Rafa are entrepreneurs who have created their own companies. Each operates in a different sector: telecommunications, biotechnologies and videogames. The recent economic crisis done serious damage to the series of the entrepreneurial CEO, although these do not dare to day if theirs is a question of need or vocation. They are all students on the UPF Barcelona School of Management MBA, seeking to obtain a more comprehensive view of a business to apply to their own businesses.

Manel Martínez. GRABASPORT.

A telecommunications engineer, Martínez has worked in IT for 14 years, the last 7 of them at IBM, while also working on his own company. GrabaSport is a quick, easy and immediate system for recording sporting activities. “We love padel [a racket sport popular in Catalonia], and over dinner the idea came up of recording our games to look at them later on, detect errors and successes, analyse our technique and improve”. With this objective in mind, Martínez and a friend designed a program for sports centres. They just have to install a few cameras, and they can offer their customers the chance to record and keep a video of their sessions. The processing is very quick so that while the users shower, a video is generated in mp4 format and copied onto a USB that can be taken home on the spot” he explained. Martínez’s determination and resolution led him to study the MBA. “I am an IT technician, so before taking this course I had the technical vision but was lacking business knowledge: financial management, brand strategy, sales techniques... The MBA has taught me to understand a project in its entirety, that I need a global strategy”.

 Albert Mascarell. ASCIDEA

Albert Mascarell is a biotechnology graduate and CEO of Ascidea, a bioinformatics company that develops tools for organising, analysing and distributing biological information. These days, tools like this are essential for developing biotechnologies and molecular medicine, making it possible to interpret information generated by research. Ascidea came about through an understanding of the value chain of clients. “Our client tends to be a scientific research institute (hospital, university, Institute) that has a hypothesis, finds funding, obtains material (biological samples, labs, etc.), carries out its work, interprets the results and then publishes or shares them,” explained Mascarell. Ascidea not only offers IT tools for computation interpretation of data but also offers additional services such as laboratory, products, clinical analysis, or support for finding funding. Its clients are mainly universities, public and private hospitals and private companies. Ascieda is also involved in European and national research projects. The company has taken another step and launched its own hypotheses in three lines of business: healthcare (clinical genetics), consumer genetics (wellness and prevention for individuals) and bioinnove (for professionals). Mascarell says: “This MBA is an essential step in my personal transformation from technical entrepreneur to CEO. The global vision provided by an MBA is crucial. On a personal level it feeds my constant desire to learn and while it is difficult to combine work and study, I know that in the long term this MBA will open up opportunities that I never thought possible”.

Rafael González. A CROWD OF MONSTERS

Rafael González is head of programming at A Crowd of Monsters, a video game company made up of four graduates of the Master in Video Game Production at UPF-IDEC. “What is really important is to have a good project that excites you,” says Rafa. They went through the UPF Business Shuttle, and last June, in the first UPF Investment Forum, they raised €450,000 in investment. “Being a group of four entrepreneurs in a small office is not the same as managing a team of over 20 employees in a 200 m2 space. “Things are getting serious, and we have to be up to the challenge, no matter how intimidating.” Rafael González, Dani Candil, Daniel Castellanos and Ramón Naifra are the heads of different areas including producers, artists, designers and programmers, working together to create videogames that function on computer, telephone and games consoles. Only two years in operation, the company has already won numerous prizes and nominations, and is currently working on a new project called Blues & Bullets, a thriller set in 1930’s America to be launched in May 2015 as part of Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program. The company’s aim is to become a leading industry figure, a young studio that is capable of developing the games we want and know how to do. He also spoke highly of the UPF Barcelona School of Management MBA programme. “It is helpful with regard to team and people management as well as accounting. All in all, we will finish the course as management experts. This is a real bonus as it is often the part the entrepreneur lacks.  And looking at our growth prospects, it will certainly come in handy in future.”