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Enter the World of the MBA Entrepreneur: IESE Alumnus Profile

Enter the World of the MBA Entrepreneur: IESE Alumnus Profile main image

IESE alumnus, Juha Koski, is the founder and CEO of the e-commerce MBA startup, MadBid.com. He decided to take the plunge into the world of MBA entrepreneurship less than a year after graduating from IESE Business School, University of Navarra.

When setting up MadBid.com in 2008, Koski was eager to seize hold of the kind of chance that doesn’t come along too often. “It was a window of opportunity. These occur a few times in your life. It can be the love of your life that you meet one day, or it can be the killer business idea” Koski says.

MadBid.com – an MBA startup steeped in medieval history

Koski says that one could describe MadBid as ‘entertainment shopping’ where the winners of fast-paced auctions save an average of 80% on products put up for sale and the rest retain an option to buy at prices often matched with Amazon, from which their placed bids are subtracted.

While there will be comparisons with eBay, the concept behind this MBA startup is markedly different. “We do not think that eBay is a direct rival, as MadBid is a B2C business model, where MadBid is the “B”. Having said that, we do fall under the definition of e-commerce (online auctions), and further under Pay-to-bid auctions”, Koski explains.

When talking about the inspiration behind his startup’s launch, Koski reveals that MadBid is in fact resurrecting a centuries-old idea. “The original MadBid business model is ancient. The MadBid type of auction was used in Southern Germany as a way to auction horses on a market place. People were throwing the smallest denomination of coins into a bucket and the last man standing would get the horse with whatever they threw into the bucket,” he says.

‘The more you give the more you get’ from your MBA program says IESE alumnus

According to Koski, an MBA had always been his goal since he was first pursuing his undergraduate degree in London. His says his aim was, “to widen my network, get back into a learning environment and simply to explore the next steps in my career. “ As for the school, “it had to be a top 10 ranked business school”, he says. 

Ultimately opting for IESE, it seems the Spanish business school didn’t disappoint.  “I was very happy with IESE. It gives you so much. The more you give, the more you get. The IESE professors were always very helpful in connecting us with industry contacts, etc.”, Koski says.

Before venturing out on his own as an MBA entrepreneur, Koski joined the private German bank, Merck Finck & Co., after graduating from IESE. There he was able to make good use of the skills acquired from his MBA program. “Corporate finance, company valuation techniques were certainly tools that IESE taught me. It is important to know what the potential tools are to be used when valuing stock exchange listed companies. Once you have those under control, you can simply use common sense and add ‘your own spice’ for any equity recommendations”, he says.

‘The right time is now for the aspiring MBA entrepreneur says MadBid founder

Koski has absolutely no regrets about life with his startup, MadBid, saying “I would never change this experience with anything else!”

This IESE alumnus’ advice to others considering a career as an MBA entrepreneur is simple; “The right time is now. Very rarely will your risk analysis give you green light and no major threats as a result to start up your business. You just have to jump into the cold water and swim. Once you are in the cold water, you realize that you can do and achieve things that you never imagined you could!” he says wholeheartedly.

According to Koski, whilst leading business schools, such as IESE, can inform and prepare you well for establishing an online MBA startup, nothing beats first-hand experience. “There were certainly areas where IESE prepared you with the tool kit required to evaluate certain business challenges. However, some of the more detailed skills that are related to internet startups have to be learnt ‘on the ground’.”

As for MadBid, Koski’s plans, five years on from its launch, hinge on expansion. “Our goal is to grow our business in terms of revenue and geographies. We received venture capital financing from Atomico Ventures, which is the VC (venture capital) fund of the Skype founders. We are evaluating all strategic options that an online e-commerce startup typically has. However, now our goal is to grow the business.”

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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