Green SUIte – the sustainability project involving more than 60 teams from 5 organisations – comes to an end

Agos, Enercom Group, Sparkasse, Tea Group and the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano, supported by the Startup Intelligence Observatory, have promoted virtuous sustainable behaviours inside and outside of the business world.


Green SUIte, the environmental conservation initiative with which employees from Agos, Enercom Group, Sparkasse, Tea Group and the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano have activated virtuous sustainable behaviours with support from Up2You, the innovative B Corp certified start-up that develops customised solutions to help businesses become carbon neutral, has come to a successful conclusion.

The project, born from an idea conceived by Agos and Up2You during one of the round table sessions at the eighth edition of the Startup Intelligence Observatory organised by the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano, has attracted more than 600 users who, in recent months, have committed to performing daily tasks aimed at raising awareness and effectively protecting the environment. Out of a total of more than 19 thousand missions, 96% were completed successfully, with participants performing an average of 32 actions each. The favourite topics were the reduction of food waste and plastic and energy consumption. Thanks to the wide uptake, around 40,000 kg of carbon dioxide have been saved, 100 new trees have been planted and 50,000 kg of carbon dioxide have been neutralised.

On 3 May, in the presence of representatives from the companies involved in the contest, the award ceremony was held at the Politecnico di Milano, with participation from around 60 employees in person at the event and another 100 connected remotely. In line with the initiative’s green vocation, all of the awards given to the winners were rewarding sustainability; from individual recognitions such as the Carbon Neutral year, capable of neutralising travel emissions and food consumption with certified projects aimed at preserving ecosystems, to team recognitions such as the zero-emissions videocalls with colleagues and customers and promocodes to incentivise forestation in Italy and throughout the world.

Green SUIte has thus further enhanced the already strong partnership between large Italian companies and start-ups, to the advantage of the entire Italian innovative ecosystem, and has fostered Open Innovation within the national economic fabric, demonstrating that collaboration brings concrete and widespread benefits.


Presenting Green SUIte: a sustainability challenge involving 60 corporate teams

Agos, Gruppo Enercom, Sparkasse, Gruppo Tea and the Politecnico di Milano School of Management, backed by the Startup Intelligence Observatory, are promoting and rewarding virtuous behaviour inside and outside the company, in collaboration with the Up2You startup. 


Green SUIte is an environmental challenge – organised in collaboration with Up2You, an innovative start-up and B Corp certified company that promotes sustainable development – involving the employees of Agos, Gruppo Enercom, Sparkasse, Gruppo Tea and the Politecnico di Milano School of Management with a view to raising awareness, educating participants, and triggering a virtuous, sustainable conduct.

The project springs from an idea developed by Agos and Up2You at one of the round tables of the seventh Startup Intelligence Observatory, one of the 46 Observatories of the Politecnico di Milano School of Management aimed at driving open innovation and contamination with start-ups.  Green SUIte is designed as a fun means of highlighting issues related to sustainability, in line with the goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the ESG rating, through the active involvement of the employees of the participating companies. The event has been received positively, with about 600 of the companies’ 5,000 employees setting up 60 highly competitive teams.

For 12 weeks, the Green SUIte teams will take part in quizzes and missions aimed at developing a sustainability culture and an awareness of environmental issues, promoting the idea that being sustainable needn’t be tiring or boring. By engaging participants in small daily actions, such as creative cooking to reduce food waste, researching and bulk purchasing local, seasonal products, participating in shared mobility programmes, and making more virtuous use of technologies, greater awareness is raised on the environmental impact of each individual action, encouraging participants to be more environmentally friendly both inside and outside the company and to rethink their day-to-day lives from a new perspective. A case in point is the “Cross over to the dark side!” mission, in which participants will be encouraged to use their PCs and phones in dark mode. “Black is chic! But in addition to being cool (and making you feel cooler), the dark mode reduces energy consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions.” Difficult not to follow the Green SUite advice!

Green SUite is an innovative multi-company digital platform backed by a strong team spirit and concerned with involving business teams in sustainable actions. At the heart of the platform lies Play, a product by Up2You, the only company in Europe that, in addition to being authorised to manage Carbon Credits certified by VERRA and Gold Standard, does so using Blockchains.

This project has quickly become a virtuous example of Open Innovation, an approach that – partly aided by the pandemic – is increasingly proving to businesses the importance safeguarding our ecosystem while pursuing innovation and that collaboration is often key for developing solutions that can really change and have a lasting impact on a company and society as a whole.

The Startup Intelligence Observatory’s 2021 research data speaks volumes: more than one third of all major Italian companies already collaborate with start-ups, recording a positive trend compared to previous years. A truly comforting piece of information for Italy’s entire innovation ecosystem; one that reveals a paradigm shift, underscored by a growing number of success stories,” says Alessandra Luksch, Director of the Startup Intelligence Observatory. The Green SUite project has been made possible by the activities developed by the Startup Intelligence Observatory to promote open innovation in enterprises and by its lively community of partner companies. This initiative just goes to show that no one can innovate alone, and that collaboration can quickly generate concrete results and widespread benefits.”

Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano graduate Daniele Pes wins MBA Startup of the Year award at AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards 2021

Daniele Pes, a graduate from Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano, has won the coveted MBA Startup of the Year award for his company Grycle.

He received this accolade at the AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards, which were held virtually on 29 January 2021.

The ceremony had 365 people registered to attend including Business School leaders, as well as category finalists, judges and members of the media.

Daniele Pes left his role as Director of Open Innovation and Digital Transformation in a multinational fair-trade company to dedicate himself to his new venture, Grycle.

Grycle performs small-scale industrial waste treatment, allowing the transformation of undifferentiated waste back into raw materials upstream of the supply chain, thus dramatically reducing costs and impacts.

The patented technology transforms waste sustainably into flakes of raw materials that are automatically separated and ready for industrial reuse. There is no more need for manual sorting. Garbage is turned from waste into valuable resources, which are recyclable indefinitely.

“On behalf of Grycle team I want to thank MIP and make an appeal to the companies in the waste and mechatronics industries, as long as the investors out there. We do the R&D you might have done in the past. If we’ve not done enough so far, this is the perfect moment to fill the gap between talking about the environment and concretely change. And evolve. Let’s talk, let’s collaborate, let’s make it real, together”, said Daniele Pes.

Andrew Main Wilson, Chief Executive of the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association (AMBA & BGA), said: ‘On behalf of the AMBA and Business Graduates Association (BGA) team, I would like to congratulate the Finalists and Winners of this year’s Excellence Awards.

‘This was our largest-ever AMBA & BGA Excellence Awards, featuring 11 categories. We have had a record number of entries, representing all six continents, and the competition was stronger than ever. The entries who made the final shortlist in each category should feel proud of their achievements.

‘I also want to take the opportunity to thank our headline sponsor, Blue Prism, and its Chairman and CEO, Jason Kingdon, as well as our award sponsors – Advent Group, Barco and Studious Digital Education. Their support for our awards – and the business education sector – is greatly appreciated.’



For more information or interviews, please contact:


Awards selection process

The Finalists list was shortlisted by AMBA & BGA’s senior management team. Our judges reviewed more than 100 shortlisted entries, selecting a winner (‘gold’) and, if appropriate, a ‘silver’ and ‘bronze’ for each award. Our judging panel is made up of AMBA board members, business experts, deans, and management leaders. Judges decided the winners based on written submissions for all categories, as well as interviews with all finalists for all student and graduate categories. Judges then scored all finalists confidentially with the scores added up to decide the winners.

All of our judges were selected based on their experience and qualifications.

More information about the categories and complete list of the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners and Finalists


Best Innovation Strategy, sponsored by Barco

The Best Innovation Strategy award is a celebration of innovation and radical thinking in business education delivery across all areas of the Business School and has been developed to recognise and reward game-changing new practices, risks and creativity around AMBA-accredited and BGA member programmes. It promotes the value of taking risks in pursuit of the new across a number of different areas such as teaching, learning, recruitment and alumni relations.


  • TBS Business School (formerly known as Toulouse Business School) (France) for ‘Teaching through comedy: injecting humour into educational videos’


  • Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy) for ‘Immersive learning with simulations and virtual reality’


  • Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow (UK) for ‘Decision making under uncertainty: making a drama out of a crisis – transitioning a core MBA course into an online format using the Covid-19 pandemic as an integrated case study’


  • Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London (UK) for ‘A three-stage strategic response to the disruption in teaching provision due to the Covid-19 pandemic: stabilise, enhance and innovate’
  • School of Management, Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) (China) for ‘Fintech MBA programme’


Best Lifelong Learning Initiative, sponsored by Studious Digital Education

The Best Lifelong Learning Initiative is a new award which recognises the efforts of AMBA & BGA member Schools that are reinventing teaching and learning among students, graduates, alumni networks, and in their custom and executive education offerings.

The finalists showcase the impact and success these initiatives have had not only to students, but also to the Business School.


  • Mannheim Business School, University of Mannheim (Germany)


  • Thammasat Business School, Thammasat University (Thailand)


  • Hult International Business School (US)


  • EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico)
  • Facultad de Economía y Negocios, Universidad Anáhuac México (Mexico)
  • International Institute of Business (IIB) (Ukraine)


Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative

The Best Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative award honours AMBA-accredited and BGA member, validated and accredited Business Schools that share AMBA & BGA’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and that are passionate about making a difference to communities and societies.

The award recognises Business Schools that are taking the initiative in creating a sustainable future and teaching students about social values; as well as making a positive impact in practical and measurable ways.


  • Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University (Nigeria) for ‘LBS Sustainability Centre (LBSSC)’


  • Glorious Sun School of Business and Management, Donghua University (China) for ‘Social Responsibility Leadership Programme’


  • CENTRUM PUCP Business School, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Peru) for ‘Improving My Store’


  • Hanken School of Economics (Finland) for ‘Business Lead’
  • IPADE Business School, Universidad Panamericana (Mexico) for ‘IPADE Social Challenge’
  • Shantou University Business School, Shantou University (China) for ‘Leiling Honey Project, Fenghuangshan Mountain Tea Promotion Project, Recycling Project of China’


Best Business School Partnership, sponsored by Blue Prism

The Best Business School Partnership recognises organisations that share AMBA & BGA’s passion for building networks and have adopted a proactive, innovative approach to strategic collaboration.

This award is designed to celebrate Business Schools working strategically and collaboratively with (for example) another Business School / group of Schools, an employer, consultant, education partner or technology provider, social impact group, individual, charity, or other organisation.


  • Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University (UK) with Transnational Academic Group


  • CENTRUM PUCP Business School, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Peru) with Industrias San Miguel


  • School of Business, Jiangnan University (China) with Jiangsu JD-Link International Logistics


  • Graduate Business School, NUCB Business School (Japan) with Toyota Motor Corporation
  • Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy) with Prada


Best Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative, sponsored by Advent Group

The Best Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Initiative is a new award which has been introduced in 2021, which recognises Business Schools and the work they have been doing to create, incorporate and develop culture, diversity and inclusion practices into their Business School, while balancing and involving fair working environments.


  • Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London for ‘Working in diverse organisations’


  • IE Business School (Spain) for ‘LGBT+@Work’
  • Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración (IESA) (Venezuela) for ‘Women entrepreneurs programme – Grupo Cisneros’
  • Monash Business School, Monash University (Australia) for ‘Queering accounting’


BGA Business School Impact Award

The BGA Business School Impact Award is a newly created award in 2021, open to BGA member, validated, and accredited Schools which demonstrate their impact on all stakeholders, alongside BGA’s vision and Charter. It also promotes the values of positive impact, innovation, responsible management and lifelong learning across areas such as programme design, social outreach programmes, alumni relations, careers services and other areas where the Business School is demonstrating an impact.


  • School of Business, Universidad de San Andrés (Argentina)


  • Athena School of Management (India)


  • Brunel Business School, Brunel University London (UK)
  • Collegium Humanum-Warsaw Management University (Poland)
  • International Management Institute (MIM-Kyiv) (Ukraine)
  • Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (Netherlands)


BGA Future Leaders Case Competition

The BGA Future Leaders Case Competition provides BGA student and graduate members with an opportunity to showcase their business acumen by solving a time-relevant global business problem with a focus on ensuring sustainability and responsible management practices are at the forefront of proposed solutions.


  • Nicolas Sauviat, Aston Business School, Aston University (UK)


  • Ahmed Youssef Ahmed Aly, Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
  • Hari Chandan Patnaik, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham (UK)
  • Racquella Laurel Parris, Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, The University of the West Indies (Trinidad and Tobago)


MBA Startup of the Year

The MBA Startup of the Year is a new award which celebrates the achievements of successful MBA students and alumni in innovative world-class business strategy. It also showcases Business Schools that are nurturing a spirit of enterprise and ambition.

This award highlights the success of AMBA-accredited Business Schools that promote entrepreneurship in their MBA cohorts.


  • Daniele Pes, Graduate School of Management, MIP Politecnico di Milano (Italy) for Grycle


  • Yann Le Guillou, Rennes School of Business (France) for Biosency


  • Aku Wilenius, School of Business, Aalto University (Finland) for Caidio


  • Codilia Gapare, Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University (UK) for C-Lash
  • Laura Judith Ramírez Guevara, EGADE Business School, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico) for Dereum Labs
  • Tatiana Flores Burbano, ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University (Spain) for Exponencial


MBA Entrepreneur of the Year

The MBA Entrepreneur of the Year award celebrates the achievements of successful alumni in innovative world-class business strategy, but also showcases Business Schools that are nurturing a spirit of enterprise and ambition.

The MBA Entrepreneur of the Year award is one of the most distinguished awards in the industry. AMBA has developed the MBA Entrepreneur of the Year award to encourage and promote the value of entrepreneurship in the current competitive climate and to highlight its importance in the global market.


  • Oluwatobi Ajayi, Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University (Nigeria) for Nord Automobiles


  • Daniel Burns, TUM School of Management, Technische Universität München (Germany) for Testifi


  • Daniel George, Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University (UK) for StepEx


  • Francisco Santolo, Universidad del CEMA (Argentina) for Scalabl
  • Ramil Khantimirov, Graduate School of Management, Saint Petersburg State University (Russia) for StormWall
  • Sarah Martin, Kent Business School, University of Kent (UK) for Nourish Zero Waste


MBA Leadership Award

The MBA Leadership Award is a new award for 2021 which honours alumni from AMBA-accredited Business Schools who have been making an impact in the business world following their graduation.

The award recognises the work of these alumni through their achievements, performance and recognition.


  • Oare Ehiemua, ESADE Business School, Ramon Llull University (Spain)


  • Alforde Charumbira, UCT Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town (South Africa)


  • Vyacheslav Klimov, International Institute of Business (IIB) (Ukraine)


  • Ashwanth Gnanavelu, Kent Business School, University of Kent (UK)
  • Ivan Syreyshchikov, Graduate School of Management, Saint Petersburg State University (Russia)
  • Shivanku Misra, IMI New Delhi (India)


MBA Student of the Year

AMBA’s MBA Student of the Year award plays a pivotal role in supporting AMBA’s pledge to promote the MBA degree as the leading international business qualification.

The MBA Student of the Year award recognises students who have shown exceptional career potential and who AMBA believes can act as ambassadors for the high quality of accredited MBAs and the opportunities these programmes provide for students from a wide range of different personal and professional backgrounds.


  • Mital Thanki, School of Business, University of Leicester (UK)


  • Kayee Au, AUC School of Business, The American University in Cairo (Egypt)


  • Leon Lloyd, Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University (UK)


  • Ciara Close, UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, University College Dublin (Ireland)
  • Koshy Alexander, IE Business School (Spain)
  • Ramiro Agustin Costa, Universidad del CEMA (Argentina)


Find a list of all AMBA accredited Schools here.

«Good ideas aren’t enough: at MIP I learned how to develop them»

Dialogue with colleagues from the master’s programme, two years of experiments and progress and, above all, a mentality devoted to continuous improvement. Martin Leban, AMIE (now IMIE) alumnus, tells us how the idea of a shampoo contained in biodegradable marbles came about.

Training in the family business, discussions with colleagues in the master’s programme from around the world and, finally, the establishment of a startup that, inspired by principles of social and environmental sustainability, gives life to a small product, but with a large potential. It’s the story of Martin Leban, a young Slovenian entrepreneur and co-founder of the startup OneTwoThreeZero, as well as alumnus of AMIE (now evolved into IMIE, International Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship) at MIP Politecnico di Milano: «The master’s taught me that there are a lot of ideas, good and less good. What makes the difference is the effort put into developing them. And that’s exactly how I and my colleagues conceived of shampoo in biodegradable marbles».

From the idea to its implementation

Leban comes from a family that owns a small hair care product company. «An environment in which I learned a lot, observing day by day», says Leban. «Creating no waste cosmetics has been a goal of mine since I was working at my family company and saw how much plastic we produce. When Renata Alessio, Indira Pambudy and Sarra Elamin started the project of biodegradable shampoo marbles at AMIE I immediately liked it and asked them to join the team».
The ecological potential of this idea is clear: «The cosmetic industry uses a lot of plastic for its packaging, even for small quantities of a product, as is the case, for example, with the vials distributed in hotels. We started from a product conceptually like the detergent capsules used in dishwashers. In that case, however, the covering is a plastic material. For us, the challenge was to find a biodegradable material that at the same time was resistant enough to contain the shampoo inside it». A challenge taken up by his two partners and chemists, Anja Pajntar and Uros Novak. «It’s a research process that has now lasted for two years. The difficulty is due to the small percentage of water in the shampoo, 10%, which on its own is a big savings compared to the 80% of average shampoos. We could have fallen back on a product without water, but the effect on hair wouldn’t have been the same». The roadmap for OneTwoThreeZero foresaw a series of important tests in April 2020, but the current health situation has forced Leban and his team to postpone. «By now we’re there, however. So much so that the laboratory that hosted us until now is no longer sufficient; we will shortly start to produce larger quantities of our product».

The importance of not being satisfied

Leban doesn’t hide that the MIP experience was crucial for the creation of this startup. «Starting with my classmates, from 17 different nationalities. This diversity has proved to be a real value added, because it gave me exposure to different points of view and cultures, which generated a true creative flow. Now I make use of the principles of design thinking learned thanks to the master’s programme, which taught me how to set up a balanced team, evaluating the most strategic individual characteristics for the company».
The project work experience was also important: «It’s one of the reasons I chose MIP. I learned what makes up the development process, which isn’t only a matter of notions, but also of mentality. Focusing deeply on an idea, to discover its real potential and give life to a series of virtually infinite possibilities».
Finally, some advice for those are about to enrol in a master’s programme: «The best way to experience it is to try to arrive with clear ideas on what you want to achieve. And never be satisfied, but work on yourself. The level of lessons is very high, and pushes you to aim even higher, to increasingly deepen your knowledge. It’s this mentality that allows you to approach your goals, both if you want to work as an entrepreneur, or as a consultant. The job prospects tied to this master’s are manifold».

From the fisherman to the customer, via MIP: the case of Orapesce

The study on the food sector. The idea born on the beaches of Rimini. And then the support of MIP, followed by the choice of equity crowdfunding: Giacomo Bedetti, 2016 part-time EMBA alumnus, tells us about the origins of Orapesce, a digital fish market service.

Innovation was born in the classrooms of MIP. Evidence of this is Orapesce, a startup that operates in the fish market by offering its customers the possibility of purchasing fresh fish online that is delivered directly to their homes. «Analysing the performance of the grocery sector, it was evident that the growth of digital consumers in the food sector was a significant trend», explains its founder Giacomo Bedetti, 2016 part-time EMBA alumnus, telling us about the genesis of the project. «Then, talking to a fisherman friend in Rimini, the spark came that led to the idea».

MIP’s added value

Indeed, until the creation of Orapesce, «a digital fish market service didn’t exist», explains Bedetti. «It was an opportunity to be seized immediately, creating a business-oriented group». In the ideation phase, MIP played an extremely important role. «Being able to explore the potential of this idea during the Executive MBA programme I was attending was crucial. Alongside a strong motivational element, there was the contribution of Professor Antonio Ghezzi, who gave us the tools to read the business and the relative metrics. And then we were able to count on the support and experience of skilled professionals». A series of elements that contributed to an excellent start on the market: «The phase of project work for Orapesce ended in July 2018, and we posted revenue of 100,000 euros in 2019. An extraordinary result, that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of MIP».

Equity crowdfunding to boost communicative momentum

At this moment, Orapesce, after 14 months of activity, finds itself in an extremely delicate phase of its life. «It’s the hard reality of startups. Either you grow, or you die», explains Bedetti without mincing words. Growing means achieving significant numbers, and this is often tied to visibility. «It’s one of the reasons we decided to finance this business exploiting the equity crowdfunding model, that allows those enrolled to invest in innovative projects. We succeeded in bringing Orapesce on Mamacrowd, which in Italy is the best possible platform for this model». At end February, Orapesce on this platform raised 381% of the minimum set goal, for a total of over 300,000 euros. «But the economic factor isn’t everything», reveals Bedetti. «For Orapesce, Mamacrowd was a commercial showcase. It’s not easy to gain the attention of 100,000 contacts, instead in this way we were able to take advantage of a real flywheel effect».

Goal: become a marketplace

Those who have visited the site of Orapesce will have realized that it’s not limited to being a shop, but also proposes a series of contents to users. «Our goal in this stage is to establish a brand that sells fish. But this is only the first step», explains Bedetti. «What we really aim for is the strengthening of a marketplace that puts consumers and producers in contact. In our future development there is a model in which earnings will be based mainly on commissions on exchanges within this network». For this reason, the site is rich in interviews with chefs and fishermen: «We want to use the possibilities of new devices to offer a path to the consumer, and to establish a strong digital identity».

The importance of soft skills

And if within Orapesce the importance of digital goes hand in hand with that of logistics, we must not neglect the general management skills that allowed Bedetti to create this startup. «I’m not talking so much about hard skills, but of soft ones. I attended the Executive MBA programme as someone over 40, I already had a lot of experience behind me. I didn’t need another title, but I felt the need to improve myself. That’s why I chose this master’s programme. There’s nothing more valuable than soft skills: knowing how to negotiate, knowing how to build relationships, being a good leader, today, are essential skills for those who aspire to become a manager or an

When finance rhymes with innovation. Welfin introduces itself

An idea, project work, a startup: Welfin’s story progressed from the classrooms of MIP to the financial market thanks to its strong innovative imprint. It will be the first P2P loan platform with credit guaranteed by a company to be launched on the market. Its founders tell about the project.

«In Italy the consumer credit market is constantly expanding and P2P (peer to peer) loans continue to have great potential». Why not start from this and rethink credit between private players in a new intra and inter-corporate perspective? This is the reflection from which Ideo Righi, Francesco Giordani, Alessandra Bellerio and Roberto Bertani, founders of Welfin, as well as 2018 Part-time EMBA alumni, began.
Welfin is a platform that revolutionizes credit between employees, allowing one or more company communities to obtain the maximum from sharing their resources. In the words of its five founders, «Welfin brings together lender, borrower and company (acting as guarantor) by promoting the creation of favourable conditions for all players involved». Let’s take a closer look.

A business model in which all parties are in agreement

In a consumer credit market with interest rates that tend towards the high side, credit concession policies on the part of companies are often cautious and the cost of debt collection expensive. «Welfin steps in, creating a virtuous circle that rewards the three players involved, lender, borrower and company, through a win-win-win system» explains Francesco. «Win for the lender, because they have a guaranteed return from the company at above-market rates; win for the borrower because they also obtain favourable rates and win for the company, which acting as a guarantor, increases the sense of belonging of its employees and improves its reputation», continues Alessandra. «Welfin offers the company a new welfare instrument with which to optimize the management of outstanding credit, creating a shared economic benefit by focusing on financial innovation – stresses Ideo -. There are already many entrepreneurs who, aware of the efficiency of Welfin’s business model, want to implement the platform as soon as possible».

Genesis and development of Welfin. From project work to the choice of “doing business”

But what was the starting point? «The observation of an entrepreneurial reality suffering from the insolvency of its employees towards consumer credit institutions allowed us to study a system that could help all parties involved, from the company to employees. We therefore identified a need and devised a solution» explains Ideo. For Alessandra, «the key values that inspired Welfin were ethics, transparency and usefulness for employees». It’s an idea that was first project work for the 2018 Part-time EMBA and then – thanks to the trust and success achieved – became a startup. «When we realized its potential, we decided to “do business”» says Francesco. «We choose each other inside the classroom of the master’s programme, and we created a close-knit, cross-cutting team, with previous business experience and thus a clear perception of risks. A team whose members are on the same wavelength, both in terms of personal and professional growth», comments Alessandra.

Finance awards sustainable innovation

Welfin won the “Fintech & Insurtech 2019” Prize, set up by the Observatory of Politecnico di Milano, for the most innovative projects in the financial field. What were its winning attributes? «A brand-new business model that is able to innovate the financial sector in a sustainable and intelligent way» its creators say. «Thanks to the recognition obtained we’ll begin a period of innovation through PoliHub, at the same time as developing all the aspects necessary to go to market, from tax to legal ones, so as to be ready at the official kick-off».
The company has also begun a dialogue with the Bank of Italy. «We carried out an initial assessment of the regulatory compliance of the business model. An experience that allowed us to confirm and offered food for thought to make it to the go to market phase even more prepared», according to Francesco, Alessandra and Ideo, who conclude by illustrating the role MIP had in this experience and its strengths: «Its network, the professionalism of professors and the enormous support in all phases of product development. The master’s programme guaranteed us an entrepreneurial, highly pragmatic and interactive experience and was also an incubator of talent and open-mindedness for the business application models and leadership development. And we believe Welfin’s business model could be even more effective in the Covid-19 recovery period, when in the face of increased obstacles for consumer credit access, it will provide support for families and individual workers in difficulty».
All there’s left to do is to (re)start.

These MBA Grads Merged Their Contrasting Skills To Build A Company Together

Virginia and Barbara graduated from MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management with not only an MBA, but a friendship and startup


As the saying goes, two heads are better than one.

For Italian-born lawyer, Virginia Soana and logistics manager, Barbara Manni, this phrase rings true.

The pair are MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management (MIP) international part-time MBA graduates, and not only did they develop their skillset on their MBA, but they also built up a close friendship during the 20-month program.

Now, over a year later, Virginia and Barbara are developing their own social startup, Neogenes. Here’s how it all unfolded.

“I understood that I was missing something”

Virginia had around six years of experience in export, marketing, and international sales before starting her MBA at MIP, and she spent most of that time working abroad in Australia and the US.

Once she came back to Italy, she worked for luxury sports apparel manufacturer, Sigoa, leading a team of 10, managing global export opportunities, and designing annual strategic, marketing, and sales plans.

“I understood that I was missing something, because a lot of the activities and tasks related to business were something that I couldn’t manage,” says Virginia.

It was after this realization that she found MIP, but she knew that she didn’t want to leave the working field for a year to study—the part-time MBA seemed like the perfect solution.

As for Barbara, she had worked in logistics services for eight years and was beginning to seek better job prospects.

She was already familiar with MIP, having studied a management and engineering bachelor’s degree there in 2004, and wanted to stay in her city of Milan. Like Virginia, she was looking to expand her skillset.

“I had a lot of confidence in terms of organization and logistics, but there was something that was missing in terms of knowledge,” she says.

[With the MBA], I could maintain my job, maintain my salary, and invest in my future as well.”

How an MBA led to a joint startup

General management lessons taught on the international part-time MBA at MIP are held on one weekend a month, during which students get the chance to network with companies while attending classes on their premises.

Both Virginia and Barbara value the soft skills they acquired during these sessions, particularly teamwork.

At the end of the program, each student puts their work into a final project.

Although Virginia and Barbara were split into different groups for their projects, they decided to also develop their own company, Neogenes.

Neogenes is a rental service company that periodically provides a customized kit of clothes for babies and toddlers, in line with their development.

The idea for the company came about casually last year, when Virginia was speaking to a pregnant friend who brought up how expensive clothes for babies are, considering how little time they last.

Neogenes was initially just a game for us,” says Virginia. “But, when working on our final project, we followed the same path and applied the same rules to the organization.”

After some research, Virginia received an email from Innovits, a business development service in Italy, calling for ideas for social startups.

She told Barbara about the idea and together they put Neogenes forward for consideration.

Now, they’re ready to take their company to the next level, leaving their full-time jobs behind.

To launch something as a startup requires a little bit of madness,” says Virginia.

“When you know exactly what you want to do, you can overcome all the anxiety and problems.”

Teamwork makes the dream work

The goal for Virginia and Barbara is to enter Milan and Lombardy in July, and then spread Neogenes across the whole of Italy by January 2020.

They aim to branch out into a second country by 2021 and become the ‘Amazon’ of rental baby products.

“Being an entrepreneur alone is very hard,” says Barbara. “It’s not impossible to do business alone, yet if you have the right partner, you can definitely make better choices and support one another.”

“We were lucky because we found each other during the MBA—it was definitely very important for me. Otherwise, I don’t think I could be an entrepreneur.”

As business partners, the pair bounce off each other, and they credit the MBA with the strong synergy they have built between them.

The program allowed them to test out working under pressure, which ultimately defined their relationship.

We are two halves of the same apple,” says Virginia. “We have very opposite skills, not only in terms of knowledge but in terms of personality and attitude.”

“The strength of Neogenes is made by us, but not because we are ‘us’, but because we really can work together, merge what we know, and [each] acquire what we don’t know from the other.”


Originally published on

How My MBA Degree Helped Me Become An Entrepreneur

After developing her skills during an MBA hackathon, Divya Singh is getting ready to launch her own luxury startup

The fashion world is changing as we move further into the 21st century. Right now, ‘uncertain’ is the industry’s buzzword for the state of play.

According a report by McKinsey & Company—The State of Fashion 2019—2018 was the year that saw fashion executives think less about survival and more about their brand’s strategic agenda and business model.

That those in the creative industries need to be business savvy is old news, and the knowledge accrued on an MBA program is just as important for those in fashion as it is for any other industry.

Divya Singh knows this all too well. With a background in fashion design, she enrolled on the International Part-Time MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano to gain a holistic understanding of the business side of fashion.

How my MBA degree helped me become an entrepreneur

Divya—who is a current MBA student—says that MIP appealed to her because of the variation of case studies on offer, which allow students to focus on the industry they’re most interested in. MBAs can also enhance their education by taking elective weeks in modules on the Executive MBA.

It was the MBA competitions, though, that turned Divya into an entrepreneur, and put in her in the position to launch her own luxury startup.

She recently completed two competitions. The Mark Challenge hosted by the University of Monaco, and Shaping a Sustainable Digital Future, patroned by The Prada Group.

In Monaco, Divya and her teammate, Fabio Masoero Regis, developed a luxury service business plan, winning the competition with their startup idea UBIQUE: a digitized luxury concierge service.

They didn’t stop there though. As finalists from Italy for the Prada Competition, the pair flew to New York late last year, adapting UBIQUE to the sustainability ideals the challenge championed.

An intense two-day hackathon saw them team up with three non-MBA students from Yale University and present their idea to a board of Yale and MIP Politecnico di Milano professors, as well as executives from the Prada Group.

Divya thinks that it’s these experiences which distil the learning of an MBA, preparing her best for the turbulent future of the fashion industry.

“Working with students who weren’t MBAs, with people with backgrounds in architecture for example, meant we could perfectly merge business know-how with creativity,” she explains, “the competition allowed me to apply my MBA learning in a real and rewarding way.”

She adds that managing team dynamics was integral to their group’s success, as they worked in a high-pressure environment with demanding time constraints.

Divya says that she developed speedy decision making, patience when dealing with language barriers, and alternative ways of doing business with people from cultures different than her own.

The competitions have proved so valuable to Divya’s professional development that she is now getting ready to launch UBIQUE as a real-life startup.

That entrepreneurial mindset is an important part of the MBA at MIP Politecnico di Milano. The startup mentality is something the school helps to cultivate throughout the curriculum with the dedicated PoliHub incubator—ranked second in Europe and third in the world by UBI Global—which offers support and services to budding entrepreneurs.

Why creatives should study an MBA

It is, in part, because of these competitions that Divya believes MBAs are such important tools for creatives.

Whilst many complete an MBA for the rapid career progression and salary increase after graduating, Divya thinks creatives can tend to view an MBA as more of a tool for self-development.

It can help to position creative professionals well for disruptions in their respective industries, as they understand the nitty-gritty numbers as much as the creative process.

“If you don’t study things like finance operations it’s hard to pick them up on your own,” Divya says, “learning how to read reports, and how to understand your business from all viewpoints, puts you in a better position to genuinely evaluate how you’re doing.”

Divya also believes that her creative background is enhancing the dialogue of her class, as she’s providing an alternative outlook to business problems that many of her peers (from more traditional MBA backgrounds) are not familiar with but are equally excited about and benefiting from.

“Teamwork is the basis of all the competitions,” she concludes, “and it’s the mixture of backgrounds and nationalities that perfectly blend creative, analytical, and business thinking which MBAs can thrive off.”


Originally published on 

Startups: the “lean” route to success!

Do you have a brilliant business idea? Are you thinking of launching your own startup? If so, then keep reading and enjoy the tips Antonio Ghezzi, Professor of Strategy & Startups, has shared with us!

Startups and entrepreneurship are hot topics. Thus, when we heard of the latest article by Prof. Ghezzi – “Agile Business Model Innovation in Digital Entrepreneurship: Lean Startup Approaches” – we jumped at the opportunity to ask him for an interview.

Expressions like “agile business model” or “lean startup” may intimidate you, but Prof. Ghezzi’s explanation will make everything clearer.


What is the “lean startup approach”?

In the aftermath of WWII, companies needed to make the production process leaner and to cut waste. The answer was the “Toyota System”, the prelude to modern lean manufacturing.

Later, authors like Steve Blank and Eric Ries introduced the same “waste-reducing” idea to startups. They theorised that startups – traditionally short of money – could not afford to spend resources on something clients did not require.


Does this mean that innovation should originate only from customers’ demands?

Henry Ford used to say, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Actually, the lean approach does not totally transfer the innovation process to customers: it is still up to the entrepreneur to conceive brilliant ideas.

Yet, entrepreneurs often make a mistake. They see customers – those the product is made for – as “enemies”, since they are the final judges of the product’s success, and they may even reject it. Thus, in the attempt to make the product “perfect”, they invest a large amount of money upfront and delay the launch on the market. But there is an inner fallacy in this notion of perfection: through heavy investments, the product or service will become perfect only from the entrepreneur’s perspective, but not necessarily from the customer’s.

The lean approach tries to reverse the situation, inviting entrepreneurs to ask for customers’ opinions as soon as possible, in order not to waste resources on something the public may dislike.

The lean approach suggests that the business model – i.e. how the company creates value, delivers it and captures it – is validated by the market at each step. Traditionally, startups are very good at creating value, but they have problems in monetising it. The lean startup approach helps entrepreneurs to overcome this difficulty.


How does the validation process work?

Entrepreneurs have to translate their business idea into a series of falsifiable assumptions, about the services they want to sell, to whom, about marketing decisions, partnerships, etc.
Then they have to test them. How? By designing a Minimum Viable Product. Through the MVP – a basic sample of the product – entrepreneurs can collect customers’ feedback without investing too much money.

Dropbox’s MVP, for example, was a video. There was no code at all! It simply showed how to create folders and how to share them… It was played hundreds of thousands of times and it made the beta waiting list jump from a few thousands of “tech nerds”  to over 75,000 people overnight.

This is the difference between the lean startup approach and marketing research: the first is about what people do, the latter about what people say.

Another great example is Zappos, the online retailer. A few years ago, Nick Swinmurn – Zappos’ founder – thought of selling shoes online. However, would people buy them? At that time, the answer to this question was not all that predictable and testing was needed.

He therefore tried to replicate customers’ natural behaviour through a “fake” e-commerce website. It showed pictures and prices of shoes, inviting customers to buy them online. When people hit the “buy” button, nothing happened.
Nonetheless, this helped Zappos’ founder to collect important data: out of all the traffic generated on site, a given percentage of customers tried to buy shoes on his website. He got a metric – the conversion rate – that he could use to make real-world forecasts.

Testing is very important because it helps entrepreneurs to understand whether they have found the Product/Market Fit – a product meeting the needs of the market. Otherwise, it would be better to make the idea perish as a whole or slightly change it in order to meet customers’ feedback. This shift – called “Pivoting “– happens all the time.

Thanks to the lean startup approach, entrepreneurs can reduce the amount of time and money spent in validating a business model and speed up the achievement of the Product/Market Fit.


Thank you Prof. Ghezzi for this exciting lesson. Before saying goodbye, we have one more question. Can we apply the “lean startup approach” to any sector and company size?

This process works well in the digital context as it’s easier to create MVPs for digital products. Still, it can also be applied in others sectors, provided that minimum is not that minimum and you’re eager to raise the bar. In the end, it can be considered a cross-industry approach that even large companies or institutions are adopting within a strategic renewal and corporate entrepreneurship framework. Just consider that, in the US, it is even applied to the Defence Sector!