A serial entrepreneur, Michael Kapilkov came up with the idea for his first tech startup sitting on a subway train in New York City.
After six years as a CFO and working in a variety of finance and tech-focused roles in New York, he decided to uproot, move to Europe, and take his idea through a full-time MBA at Spain’s IE Business School.
There, he developed his business, i-virtual, an online profile verification service which combines Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, and semantic web technology. Michael wants to build an internet of smart, trusted profiles. He wants to change the internet and make it more secure.
At IE, he also founded healthcare tech startup Healthi, which puts patients’ medical records on a blockchain, giving both doctors and patients private and secure access to their health data.
He’s not alone. IE Business School’s MBA is ranked among the best in the world for entrepreneurship by the Financial Times. More than 15% of IE grads set up their own companies.
Through IE’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, MBA students have access to investors, mentors, an in-house incubator, and a network of successful entrepreneurs to help them grow their startup ideas.
How did the idea to start i-virtual come about?
Oddly enough, I remember the exact moment when this idea first came to me. I was on a subway train in New York heading back home. It was after a meeting where we were discussing semantic web technology, and the idea of the top level verified universal profiles appeared to me. It has been stuck in my head ever since. It’s since gone through many stages, pivots, and micro-pivots, but it still won’t leave me alone!
Where are you at right now with your business? What do you hope to achieve?
Right now, we are beginning work on the second prototype that would allow to create unique verified online identities for individuals. One of the biggest obstacles is that we are testing unchartered waters. As far as I know, no one has ever attempted this on a large scale, so there are technological and conceptual hurdles. Still, I believe that within the next few months we’ll be able to take it to the next level.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at IE Business School?
IE is known for its focus on entrepreneurship, so I believed it would help propel my startup forward. I was attracted by the fact that the program is only one year long. And then, there was also a cultural experience – I never had a chance before to study abroad and it was something that I’d always wanted to experience.
IE is diverse both in terms of the nationalities of its students and alumni, as well as in terms of professional backgrounds. I knew I would be able to leverage its network to find the right career opportunities. Everyone at IE is genuinely nice – it’s much more about cooperation, than competition.
What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?
Do your research. If possible, visit the school before applying, or at least before enrolling.
Look up alums online. Compare their career paths before and after the MBA. And talk to the alums. Ask about the career services and career opportunities on offer, the quality of the school’s infrastructure and resources, the quality of the professors, and their ability to help you with your future career plans.
Once you have done all the research, match it against your own selection criteria.