AMIE: My experience

You come up with an idea. You see it in your head and you think about the many reasons why it would make the next hit. You tell your colleagues about it. You form a team.

You engage in the challenging ride of building a startup and making it epic. Your team loves it. So do you. You pitch, you test, you iterate. You find a few bumps on the way.

You tell yourself to keep on. You keep on. You and your team find more bumps. You all keep on. You find yourselves with market limitations. The idea falls short. Motivation soars. The team splits.

The truth is: that’s real-life entrepreneurship. So… never give up!

And it all started back in Mexico City in June of 2017, when I received notice from the Italian Ministry that I had been awarded a scholarship for my Master’s tuition. It had been a long time since I had wondered about the opportunity of living in Europe and pursuing further learning abroad. The possibility of diving deep into my favorite topics while sitting next to an international class made it all even more attractive.

And it was thanks to the Invest Your Talent in Italy program that I was able to pursue the Advanced Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (AMIE), a joint program between MIP Politecnico di Milano in Italy and Solvay Brussels School in Belgium. The Master featured 3 main projects: the New Venture Lab, the Field Project, and the Summer Internship.

With its kick-off in October 2017, the New Venture Lab was aimed at engaging our class in a real-life simulation of a new startup venture. Throughout the year, we had the opportunity to design, pitch, and work in groups on the incubation of a business idea, all the way from the conceptualization of a business model, to the value proposition defining, and then to the go-to-market strategy design.

For me, the course began with an exciting start, working alongside a great international team of four, and focusing on an online tool for peer-to-peer education. Despite our great group spirit, as the project moved forward, we realized that the market we were targeting was not as responsive to our proposition as we had initially thought. After a few setbacks, the group opted to pivot towards a completely different sector. In this case, we were no longer addressing educational concerns, but rather we were trying to propose an alternative to help people quit smoking.

Even if this choice meant making a 180° turnaround, as a team, we were confident that our new solution, a motion-detecting wearable bracelet, would help this specific market segment reduce its smoking habits. This device was to be linked to an app that allowed users to create a tailor-made quitting program, obtaining rewards as progress was being made. We then had the opportunity to pitch this concept at the Microsoft House in Milan.

After moving to Brussels, with a great new team and a with a different objective in mind, our new venture model was built upon an online marketplace for upcoming Italian high-end brands. Through this framework, Italian designers could connect more easily with a growing high-end international market segment, a project that ended up building the foundation for the next challenges to come.

And that’s because on the Field Project, we got the opportunity to work on a textile recycling project for the Belgian office of a leading global FMCG company. For the Summer Internship, on the other hand, I performed industry research on the Mexican hosiery market, proposing a circular solution for an Italian textile industrial district. As a result, I got to present my findings in a regional workshop that was honored by the presence of the Mexican Consul in Italy.

In retrospect, I can say without a doubt that my AMIE year was an intense, fast-changing, and highly rewarding experience. I believe that the richness of it all comes not only from the course syllabus, the lectures, and the study hours, but it also lies within the quality of people you get to meet, the character you build when facing the bumps, and the learning you gain as a result of the process.

As it is with entrepreneurship, uncertainty is always around the corner. But after this exceptional journey, I believe it is time for us to take action, fill in the gaps, and start designing our ideal future.

And not leaving before we build it.


About the author

Bruno Leopardi

Bruno is a 26-year-old Strategy Specialist from Mexico. He recently graduated from his Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at MIP Politecnico di Milano and Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business Administration from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. His goal is to build and guide organizations through strategy and performance.



Celebrating global stories in continuous transformation

The International MBA program at MIP has a very magical element. It is made up of different stories and points of view from opposite sides of the planet, that coincide for the duration of a year in Milan. As promised, this time I will be introducing two of my MBA colleagues and friends: Renata Cabral Sturani from Brazil and Rohit Vigg from India, who share here their life-changing experiences.


Why did you decide to pursue an MBA program?

Renata: Ever since I started my career in investment banking ten years ago in São Paulo, I have known that I wanted to enroll in an MBA program. However, I postponed my decision several times, because luckily my job was so vibrant and full of opportunities. As I grew in my career, it became clear to me that I needed to broaden my horizons. I graduated with a degree in economics and had a strong background in finance, but I had the desire to understand businesses beyond financial models and have a more holistic view about industries across the globe.

Rohit: Before September 2018, my life had a monotonous feeling; being in the IT industry in India takes a lot out of you and the struggle of competing with billions makes us more susceptible to change. There is a point in your career where you are stuck with the same kind of work with no learning opportunities or future growth. This can be because of outdated skills or depends on how comfortable you are with the current state of the work environment. For me personally, I wanted a boost, a push to my career and MIP was the answer, exposing me to a whole new world of people, organization and culture.


What was your previous life like, back in your hometown?

Renata: While I was preparing for the MBA application process I got pregnant, which was wonderful news. In that moment, I wasn’t at all intimidated by the challenge of pursuing an MBA and simultaneously taking care of my child. In Brazil, my routine as an investment banker included long workdays. I used to work 12 to 14 hours a day, and sometimes on weekends; however, even with this schedule, I enjoyed my job. I had no doubt in my mind that my proven track record of excellent time management skills would help me in this journey, but I certainly underestimated how challenging it would be. After my daughter was born, a regular day in Brazil included getting up early, around 5 a.m., with little to no sleep during the nights.

Rohit: A regular day in Delhi included me getting out of bed in the morning and getting ready for work, a job which was challenging both mentally and physically and had no further scope for the future.


What is your normal day like, living in Milan?

Rohit: Compared to Milan and life at MIP, my old life seems pretty easy. The routine here is tougher, you have to get up earlier and run to the class, but with the satisfaction of structuring your career. MIP has given us a platform where each of us can re-engineer our life and give it a path of our own. Even though we miss our friends and family back home, MIP has opened up a whole new set of multicultural friends and a new family from all around the word. Cooking has always been a passion of mine ̶ as I am an amazing home chef, I usually used to cook for my family during the weekends. But now I get the opportunity to cook every day. No-one can replace a meal which was home-cooked by your mother, but sometimes I feel inspired when someone praises my food. I guess I have increased the spice threshold for some Europeans back in my apartment!

Renata: Looking at my life in Italy now that I am at MIP, I feel that my old life in Brazil as an investment banker and then as a new mother prepared me for the demanding routine of the MBA. My daily routine in Milan includes getting up at around 6.30 a.m., taking my now 14-month-old daughter, Diana, to daycare, and then running to catch the train for class. Usually, I get home after 20.00 and my daughter is already sleeping. Once I am back home, I continue to study and I go to bed around midnight every day. I do feel overwhelmed at times; however, the feeling of accomplishment outweighs this. I am very fortunate to have the unconditional support of my husband (who is Italian) and his family along this journey. I miss my family a lot but try to Skype with my loved ones as much as possible. It is also great way to expose my daughter to the Portuguese language!


What makes this MBA journey special?

Renata: At MIP, I have learned that diversity takes on a whole new meaning. Among the students in our class I’ve found 20 different home countries that are represented, as well as an array of different professional backgrounds. That alone is an incredible experience, as it helps one develop sensitivities to different backgrounds. Such a level of sensitivity and respect for your colleagues is necessary when working in a global environment.

Rohit: The feeling of Freedom, which is accelerating and sometimes gives us a sense of maturity. Missing home is a part of my routine now, but sometimes I replace this with an aperitivo, exploring the city with friends, new Italian cuisines and campus beer. Up until now it has been a roller-coaster ride, and I think it’s not going to end soon. With excitement in my heart, I could not have asked for a better opportunity than MIP.


Stay tuned for the next chapter, where I will give you my personal tips and advice for applying to the International MBA program at MIP…


About the author

Roberto Niño Betancourt

Roberto is a student of the International full time MBA. He is a Colombian filmmaker and new media artist based in Milan. He has collaborated as a post producer for MTV Latin America, as well as many European production companies. He is very passionate about international cross-cultural collaborations, craftsmanship and the sustainable conservation of natural resources.


Local Hub Inauguration – Promoting Food Donations and Reducing Food Waste


In 2015, Milano was behind a new Food Policy to pioneer a more sustainable food system throughout the city, introducing a multidisciplinary and participative approach where city authorities act as drivers and enablers.
A top priority in the food policy is to reduce food waste, and the best way to get there was to bring on board local players – the city’s research centres, institutions, private sector, foundations and social actors.

To turn this priority into concrete actions, in 2016, Comune di Milano, Assolombarda and Politecnico di Milano agreed a memorandum of understanding, entitled “ZeroSprechi”, set up to reduce food waste and implement a new method for collecting food which would then be donated to those in need. The design and trial of such a model to gather and redistribute excess food was built around local groups and networks.

Comune di Milano identified an unused public area in the Municipio 9 zone, allocating it to the project as a hub for stocking and distributing food collected by TSOs, charities and non-profit organisations.
Politecnico di Milano conducted a feasibility study on the network and now will monitor the operations at the hub and the impact of the project over a 12-month period, building a logistics model that can be scaled up and replicated in other city quarters.
Assolombarda ran an intense awareness programme, identifying and involving several companies who have joined the project, and it supplied the “ZeroSprechi” logo designed and donated by the Armando Testa Group, to reward exemplary companies and highlight the serious problem of managing food excess.
Banco Alimentare della Lombardia, winner of the competition to run the hub, will be responsible for day-to-day operations on the basis of the Politecnico-designed model, collecting food excess and distributing this food to partner charitable organisations in the local area.
Programma QuBì – a formula to fight child poverty – which had previously started a similar hub in Via degli Umiliati, joined the initiative, funding the outfitting and management of the hub in Via Borsieri and bringing its own local network into the scheme.
This is an innovative project involving the combined work of all actors concerned, from the companies engaged in donating and enabling the recovery of excess food, to non-profit organisations acting as contact points with the needy and the public authorities backing these ethical initiatives.

“I am pleased that this hub is now open, because so many of our city’s plays worked together to get it off the ground”, declared Anna Scavuzzo, Milan’s Deputy Mayor responsible for the Food Policy programme. “This is the first example of a local network established to collect and redistribute food before excess becomes waste. Collaboration with Municipio 9 means that we were able to give the city an unused public space and, at the same time, highlight our commitment to reduce food waste, a top priority in Milan’s Food Policy. This project runs alongside a 20% reduction in the variable quota of the TARI tax on waste for companies that donate food, the drive to collect and redistribute food excess from school canteens, and wider actions currently under study together with AMSA (waste management services). The Via Borsieri hub is another step forward in our quest for a more sustainable, inclusive and equal Milan”.
Giuseppe Lardieri, President of Municipio 9 echoed her feelings by saying: “I am happy that Municipio 9 is hosting this project. At its heart is the debate on the right of access to food and the distribution of food that is not used. With the new poverty in our smart cities, these are topics that should push us all to do better. Without forgetting that reducing food waste means reducing waste in general and encouraging us to eat more perishable foods like fruit and vegetables, which are also healthier. I am sure that all actors in the Municipio 9 zone – industries, supermarkets, restaurants and food services, third sector, institutions – will play their part to ensure the success of this initiative”.

Politecnico di Milano is proud to bring its contribution to the project, elaborating a model for collecting food that can be replicated in other parts of the city and in other places altogether”, declared Marco Melacini, Professor of Logistics and Scientific Director of the Food Sustainability Observatory of Politecnico di Milano. “The project does not terminate with the opening of this hub in Via Borsieri and there will be regular meetings to check whether it is proving effective in the excess food collected and efficient in gathering and distributing this food. The work group will provide periodical updates on the progress of the project”.

“We are proud that the first food excess recovery project engaging supply chain companies and third sector operators within the city of Milan is in now place, two years from signing the memorandum of understanding”, said Alessandro Perego, Director of the Management Engineering Department at Politecnico di Milano. “The need to act on waste is particularly sensitive both from a social standpoint and environmentally, and we believe that Milan, with everyone concerned acting together, is taking a decisive step towards a more sustainable future in matters relating to food”.

“Today we have reached a significant target in our fight against waste, setting in motion an effective process to gather and redistribute food excess, based on a replicable model that makes Milan the standard-bearer for this campaign”, stated Alessandro Scarabelli, General Director of Assolombarda Confindustria Milano, Monza & Brianza, Lodi. “This result is the outcome of strong collaboration between associations, bodies, companies, universities and non-profit organisations, all pooling their contributions in a joint, concerted undertaking and, by using a fast track system, maximising the delivery and consumption of excess food. In addition, with the “ZeroSprechi” logo, we want to highlight the companies taking an active role in the project that, by joining the initiative, are promoting good practice and a culture of reducing food waste”.

“Banco Alimentare della Lombardia intends to get closer to its partner charitable organisations in the districts of Milan’s Municipio 8 and Municipio 9 zones, and fight food poverty together. We are, with for-profit companies, institutions, trade associations and grant-giving foundations, a winning team, and can address need with real solutions”, said Marco Magnelli, Director of Banco Alimentare della Lombardia.

The problem of child food poverty in Milan must be faced and resolved through an intervention model that requires all the forces involved to work together closely. The inauguration of the Via Borsieri hub is a giant step in this direction. Programma QuBì has already helped Banco Alimentare della Lombardia to open the first two city collection points and now, through our synergy with other interested parties, we will be able to maximise food collection, reduce waste and strengthen our capacity to reach families in food poverty. The fight against food poverty is a cornerstone action in the multi-year Programma QuBì promoted by Fondazione Cariplo Foundation – with the support of Fondazione Vismara Foundation, Intesa Sanpaolo, Fondazione Enrica & Romeo Invernizzi and Fondazione Fiera Milano – in collaboration with Comune di Milano and third sector organisations operating in the local area. This 25-million-euro challenge will commit Milan in its entirety, calling on companies, institutions and private citizens to produce a common formula that can provide concrete answers to disadvantaged families and create exit paths from need”, concluded Giuseppe Guzzetti, President of Fondazione Cariplo