Guided by passionate faculty, local experts, and hands-on learning, the IMD Executive MBAs head to Silicon Valley each year to study the economy, the context and society. We see life as it is, in companies, as well as in the cultural, economic and political context in which they operate. But these are not exercises in industrial tourism – the objective of each Discovery Expedition is to help you rapidly absorb a large amount about the world and the global business environment and to translate those learnings to your own company and work context. This Discovery Expedition is one of three that that each EMBA participant undertakes as part of their learning journey. In Silicon Valley, we investigate and experience entrepreneurship and innovation first-hand. We explore how companies, large and small, manage innovation, creativity and profitability. You will work closely with Swiss-based start-up businesses and their entrepreneurs prior to the Discovery Expedition and then, while in Silicon Valley, pitch their business to venture capitalists and angel investors. The IMD Executive MBA program has recently completed its 20th expedition to Silicon Valley in 2016, marking 17 years, approximately 200 start-ups, and over 1100 phenomenal Executive MBA participants.
The expedition’s master-mind and leader, Professor Jim Pulcrano, filters each year through over 120 aspiring entrepreneurs who apply to the IMD Startup competition. With inputs from CTI/KTI, VentureKick and investiere, 25 fortunate ventures are selected to work with IMD’s MBA and Executive MBA participants.Jim introduced the startups to the Executive MBA participants – a group of highly talented and experienced international executives, who together analyze and challenge business plans, teams and company strategies for several months. The pinnacle of the experience is six days in Silicon Valley, as the Swiss entrepreneurs and participants travel to meet venture capitalists and angels awaiting to hear fundraising pitches – and hoping to invest.
“Some people have said that what we ask our EMBAs to do in Silicon Valley is impossible,” Jim Pulcrano said. “Putting them in the shoes of high-tech entrepreneurs and having them pitch their businesses to Silicon Valley venture Capitalists. It’s real, and it works, and every year I have the privilege of watching our EMBAs rise to that impossible challenge and do a great job.”
Jim and the EMBA faculty seek to explore with the participants the mind-set of the entrepreneur – an essential objective for any manager. Through the expedition, the EMBAs meet with the people who create, execute, grow and finance new firms. They seem to speak a different language and move at a different speed. Participants are helped to develop a sense of how to create an environment that enables entrepreneurial behavior, drives new-idea generation and assesses chances of success in the marketplace.