After graduating from one of the top business programs in the world, Diego Casabe gives us valuable ESADE school insights. He details his experiences as an entrepreneur and explains his lifestyle as an Argentinian in Barcelona.Â
The former Merchant GMAT alumni reconnects to detail strategies that have made him the successful entrepreneur he is today. Diego is a proud co-founder of Kleta, a bicycle renting company that was listed as one of the â€śMost Disruptive MBA Startups” by Poets and Quants for 2020Â (Poets&Quants). Diego began developing Kleta while earning his MBA at ESADE in Barcelona. The company is centered in Barcelona and provides monthly bicycle rentals with theft protection for busy locals.Â Diegoâ€™s journey from Argentina to Spain and his entrepreneurial success will prove as the framework for other Merchant GMAT alumni in the future.
To understand Diego Casabeâ€™s passion, it would be remiss not to mention how he found his love of entrepreneurship. Diego was inspired by his aunt who moved to Los Angeles when she was 18 to start a clothing brand. When Diego used to travel to the United States from Argentina, he fell in love with the lifestyle his aunt was living. The idea of being his own boss was intriguing to him and laid the foundation for his love of entrepreneurship. This is when Diego knew he was going to be an entrepreneur.Â
Itâ€™s funny to think that Diego Casabe was never a fan of riding bikes as a form of transportation. He is, however, a fan of innovation and saw a gaping need in the market in Barcelona. In Europe, it is estimated that a bike is stolen every five minutes and Barcelona is among one of the worst cities to own a bike (www.iambarcelona.com).Â
Diego founded Kleta on the principles of security and flexibility; every bike is backed with theft protection and comes with a complimentary maintenance plan for breakdowns. Kleta also offers rentals on a monthly basis so riders are not locked into a long-term investment. Diegoâ€™s innovative mindset and identification of local problems has propelled Kleta to the forefront of success in the transportation market. The company grows daily and will soon be the premier bike rental company in Europe.Â
As of January 2021, Kleta had over 100 rented bicycles in circulation. Because of the rate at which Kleta is growing, Diego just purchased another 200 bikes and is developing electronic models. His goal is to have 1500 bikes in circulation by the end of the year and hopes to branch out to Mexico in the near future.Â
Merchant GMAT and ESADE Along the Way
One aspect of taking the GMAT that often gets overlooked is the support system you have around you. Many students know that they need to take the GMAT to get into business school but rarely understand the â€śWhyâ€ť aspect. It is important for students to figure out why they want an MBA and outline some future goals that their degree will help them obtain
Esade, aside from being the number one MBA program in Europe for entrepreneurship, is focused on community building instead of class rankings (ESADE). Diego attributes this atmosphere of inclusion to the fact that most of the students at Esade are not from Spain; they are ranked in the top 10 schools in the world in terms of international enrollment (ESADE). Diego constantly references the community-like feel at Esade and credits the â€śnon-cutthroatâ€ť environment for some of his success. Diego gives many ESADE school insights in his interviews that should be valued by prospective MBA students.
Diego credits Esade and Merchant GMAT not just for their educational teachings, but for the network they have provided him in his professional life. The alumni network is often the most critical tool for entrepreneurs when they are starting a business because it lets them connect with others who have already done what they want to do. Diego had access to both the ESADE and Merchant GMAT alumni networks and credits them as being very helpful in the beginning stages of Kleta.Â
At ESADE, there is an accelerated program that is open to all ESADE alumni. The program, run by Professor Jan Brinkmann, puts major emphasis on new business development. Guest speakers run sessions every day and at the end of the course, all groups present their project ideas to investors. Frequent check-ins are offered to each group to make sure they are staying on track. This is one of the main advantages about ESADE that Diego mentions.Â
One of the main pieces of advice Diego gives to GMAT students is to pursue an MBA outside of Latin America. For many, it is easy to receive a European passport to study abroad. Doing so will open the door to many more opportunities than are available in Latin America.Â
Reflections and Takeaways
Diego looks back fondly on his days studying for the GMAT, although he does admit that it was challenging. One of the biggest pieces of advice he offers to students preparing for the GMAT is to be relaxed. It happens often that students will be prepared for the test but will be so stressed out they are unable to achieve their desired score. Another piece of advice he offers to students is to be mentally tough throughout the test. There may be some questions you donâ€™t know but it’s important to power through them and tackle the next one.
Diego talks a lot about the stigma surrounding the GMAT and the pressures imposed on the students who take it. It is important for students to remember that they have prepared to the best of their ability and their scores will reflect their work put in. Getting a score higher or lower than your companion means little when it comes to actually earning an MBA degree. This is one of Diegoâ€™s ESADE school insights that he places a lot of value on.Â Â
The graduate school process should be looked at as if it were stepping stones: The GMAT is a stepping stone to get to grad school and grad school is a stepping stone for the professional world. It doesnâ€™t matter how big the stones are that get you there, it just matters that you get there. Keep your head up and never give up on your professional aspirations.Â
Because of the advances in technology, Diego states that most of the structural information learned in an MBA program is already available to everyone on the internet. However, he believes that it is not the basic information that propels students in the professional world, it is actually the alumni network they form along the way. For students who aspire to be entrepreneurial professionals, there is no more crucial aspect than the alumni network. Receiving input from business professionals will provide opportunities for funding and new ideas that may take your company to the next level. This is what the MBA program is all about. The ESADE school insights provided by Diego are extremely valuable for prospective MBA students.
Finding the MBA program that is right for you is essential to your future success. If a school is asking you questions and you are having trouble articulating your responses, it may not be the right fit for you. It is important to consider the location of the school when deciding to get your MBA because that may be the place you start your professional career. Above all, students need to feel comfortable at a school when they are receiving their MBA. Opportunities are present at all schools and just because a school is not â€śThe Bestâ€ť per se doesnâ€™t mean there are no avenues to success. The ESADE school insights Diego has described are part of the reason for his success. Diego Casabe is the perfect example of a Merchant GMAT alumni who used his knowledge and drive to become a successful entrepreneur.
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