You fully expect INSEAD to deliver the knowledge and the tools that you need. What is just fantastic though, is the access you have to faculty who are world class. And the networking opportunities are second to none. During the programme, you have this interpersonal dynamic with your peers that happens during class time and on campus, and the added value is huge.
Entrepreneur-turned-investor, Patricie Kubesova, came to INSEAD looking for tools and new perspectives. She walked away with a roadmap for success.
Making the shift from entrepreneur to investor isn’t uncommon in the startup world. Most founders are also investors in their own ventures in one form or another.
But assessing the potential and evaluating the viability of someone else’s new business idea is a different story. It requires a set of skills and a mindset that sit outside of the typical entrepreneur’s toolbox.
So says Patricie Kubesova, who founded her own energy consulting company in 2007. A seasoned entrepreneur in her own right, with almost two decades’ expertise as an SAP and business consultant in oil and gas, in 2019 Patricie was sought out by an independent venture fund looking to tap into her knowledge and experience to assess new tech and non-profit business opportunities. The invitation felt like a “win-win,” she says, but with one caveat.
“I’d reached a plateau where I wanted a new challenge and my colleagues in the fund were looking for a new member with start-up and industry know-how. I was delighted to accept the offer, but it quickly became apparent to me that I was missing one important piece of the puzzle: the investor perspective.”
As an entrepreneur herself, Patricie was well versed in “connecting dots and putting ideas into practice,” she says. She was less confident however, when it came to evaluating other people’s pitches.
“I realised I was struggling to objectively evaluate the viability of new business ideas. I needed the broader view and the tools to assess the pitches we were seeing. I also wanted to dig deeper into the skills it takes to sell a company and to overcome knowledge or understanding gaps between founders and investors.”
These needs brought her to Entrepreneurship: New Business Ventures – a new programme launched by INSEAD in 2021 and aimed at all stakeholders within the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial cycle. Coming to INSEAD was a long-held ambition, she says.
“I’d always wanted to study at INSEAD. It’s been a dream for me since I completed my MBA in 2007. Now I had the motivation and the opportunity to experience the School for the first time, and the new programme absolutely dovetailed with my needs.”
Coming to INSEAD as one of the first on-campus programme participants in the wake of the pandemic was an extraordinary experience, says Patricie; one that far exceeded her expectations.
“You fully expect INSEAD to deliver the knowledge and the tools that you need. What is just fantastic though, is the access you have to faculty who are world class. And the networking opportunities are second to none. During the programme, you have this interpersonal dynamic with your peers that happens during class time and on campus, and the added value is huge.”
Exchanging perspective and feedback with classmates and professors was invaluable, she says. And the shared interests and goals of the cohort meant that ideas could be pitched and assessed openly and with total confidence and transparency.
“I was learning alongside people with a common interest but who came from a breadth of industries – from manufacturing, education, finance, the nonprofit sector and more. The diversity of it was vastly enriching.”
Then there was the added benefit of outside investors. One of the chief highlights of the programme for Patricie was a chance to pitch an investment idea to real investors and receive their feedback – an experience that she says has given her a “prepared set of questions” and a “concrete framework” to evaluate real-world opportunities with greater confidence and clarity.
“The feedback from the investors pinpointed those really specific areas that you need to keep front of mind when you’re evaluating a new venture. You need to be asking things like: what/who is your target market? Or: what benefit can you bring them? These are just examples of the simple questions that can help you determine the readiness of a team and the true viability of an idea.”
Taking the programme has given Patricie the tools and understanding to make the definitive shift in thinking from entrepreneur to investor – and back again.
“I’ve long looked at projects from the perspective of the CEO. INSEAD has taught me to look at new ideas from other different perspectives and angles. The programme has given me the capabilities I need to truly and accurately assess a new venture. I will be implementing the learning as an investor from now on; and perhaps later as an entrepreneur again,” she laughs.
As a learning experience, the programme is also a practical roadmap that can help entrepreneurs and investors alike to avoid unnecessary pitfalls.
“I’d say it’s a live shot – a once-in-a-lifetime shot – at sidestepping the traps and mistakes we all tend to make with new ventures. You walk away with an extraordinary decision-making toolkit for creating a new company. I would truly, madly and deeply recommend this programme to anyone looking to start or scale up.”