Jerome Ibañez, from the Philippines is a confident young man at IE MIM with an entrepreneurial mindset. He shares his advice on making the most of his time here at IE, his startup and his experience in working with teams at IE amongst other things.
Hola Jerome. Let’s start off on a light note. Tell us 5 things about you that people will be surprised to know
- A lot of people get surprised when I tell them that I was an actor. I did a lot of acting back in high school and before coming to IE, I acted in a Filipino short film called Overcast, which got into the 2016 Cannes Film Festival
- I’m not in male-model shape by any means whatsoever but I weighed around 210 pounds during my first two years whatsoever. All in all I lost around 40 pounds (It’s fluctuating because the food in Spain so damn good!)
- I actually started my first startup at age 19. It was a food delivery startup (a cash generating one and not just an idea) that used gamification to make ordering food more fun. Obviously it didn’t work out too well but it was an amazing learning experience. You really get to know yourself when you find your back against the wall.
- Apart from acting I was also in a band for four years. We were called “The Faithful Covenant”. No, we we’re not a Christian group. We actually considered ourselves “metal” even though we only played Paramore and Fall Out Boy covers. I was the vocalist, hahaha.
- I can’t ride a bicycle 😦
The most important/life-changing thing you have learnt in IE MIM so far
I wouldn’t say it’s life changing but the most important thing that I learned about being in the MiM program at IE is to not focus solely on your grades. I actually believe that the studying that we do is just one small part of the IE experience. Obviously, this depends on what your career goals are. If you’re looking into working at a top consulting firm then you should aim for the highest grade. But for the rest of us that aren’t sure what to do after graduation just yet, studying 24/7 is the worst thing that you can do.
And I’m not even talking about going to parties and having fun. That’s part of it, but there are so many more productive extra-curricular things that you could do not just to boost your CV but just to have fun in general. Madrid has a great business ecosystem and I’m glad that I got to explore a bit of it. For example, the Entrepreneurship Club (which I am the President of) co-organized a lot of events with organizations outside of IE, including Startup Grind and Founder’s Institute. Since I went to IE with Entrepreneurship in mind I took advantage of these events to meet people from the startup ecosystem. It was tough at first since i’m a foreigner but I knew that it was something that I had to do. You might think that these events are only useful on paper but these external events are a great place to really meet new people that could help you. In fact, I met one of our investors during an event we organized with Founder’s Institute.
But I’d also definitely start with events WITHIN IE before you go out. The Venture Lab is a great place to start. They have weekly pitch slams/events with free beer! Plus, if you have a good idea you can apply to be part of the school’s accelerator.We actually got in and we’re looking forward to refining what we have and meeting new people.
If there’s one subject/module that you wish IE taught (that doesn’t exist currently), what would it be and why?
I would really love to have a finance/legal class specifically for startups. We covered some interesting topics during Corporate Finance but they’re not really practical for startups.(I think the concepts/cases that we discussed are more geared towards consulting rather than entrepreneurship). Starting a company, especially a startup, is not just about the idea and executing it – there is a surprising amount of legal/financial work required for it to really happen.
We have heard that you are a passionate entrepreneur and you have a start-up. Congrats! What is the biggest misconception about up and coming entrepreneurs?
The biggest misconception is that you always need to have an engineer in your team for you to raise money. Of course it will depend on a case-to-case basis but often times investors are looking for KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that can be achieved even without writing a single line of code. It’s all about identifying what KPIs matter to your situation and hustling your way to getting them. In my startup’s case, we haven’t written a single line of code but we were able to secure key contracts and partnerships that prove our business model and having just that allowed us to get the support of angel investors and the interest of high profile VCs inside and outside of Spain.
If you could depict your IE experience in a movie, what would you call it?
Tierra Chronicles – because I eat at that burrito place at least 4 times a week. Hahaha. Editor’s note: Tierra is a Tex-Mex burrito bar right next to IE’s Maria de Molina 4 building.
What has been your most interesting experience doing the MIM thus far and why?
It would definitely be working on our startup. It’s interesting because unlike when I did my first one, I now have a solid team along with access to capital and just more resources in general. It’s more fun working on a project knowing that you have the support of other people and your school.
What advice do you have for working in multi-cultural teams especially when there are significant cultural differences?
Surprisingly I don’t think I’ve encountered any conflicts because of cultural differences so far. Usually when conflicts arise at the groups that I’ve worked with, it wasn’t about a difference of culture but something else (i.e. low productivity, difference in perspective because of lack of expertise, etc). In general, it’s about putting yourself in the shoes of the other person/party and see if your opinion about the topic changes after taking that into consideration. It’s not good practice to be passive in arguments because that will eventually pass on to when you’re working. Nobody likes a pushover.
What is the most underrated/overlooked thing about the IE MIM?
The thing that a lot of students overlook about the program is the fact that we’re in Madrid. There are a lot of opportunities here to learn and expand your network outside of the IE bubble but unfortunately, only a few people are using our location to their advantage.
What advice would you give to yourself before entering IE? (i.e. What things would you do differently?)
I actually don’t have any regrets with regards to anything that I did during my 7 months here….yet
That was an interesting time with Jerome. Look forward to more exciting interviews with other IE MIM students!
Till next time, MIM Allies.