Women Entrepreneurs: How An MBA At ESADE Is Helping Me Break Into The Cosmetic Industry

"ESADE Business School is a place where the 'dream big' mentality is celebrated," says Melanie Borge, an MBA entrepreneur building a health-centered cosmetic product line

Melanie Borge's drive to establish her own company stems from an admiration for her father and grandfather's entrepreneurial ventures. Her business idea was shaped by the experiences of her family and the environment of her native country, Colombia.

Growing up "with the beach as their second home", Melanie and her sisters recognized the importance of enjoying the sun with their health in mind. This led them to identify a market opportunity in the cosmetics industry, and explore the possibility of creating "an organic, non-toxic, and non-GMO sun-care product line."

Melanie believed that an MBA at ESADE Business School would act as the bridge to the realization of her vision.

Students at ESADE are encouraged to discuss their startup ideas with the school's entrepreneurial community at E-Garage. Candidates then proceed to developing their idea at E-Works, ESADE's very own venture creation and startup acceleration program fostering students' projects.

Once the idea has taken form, candidates participate in ESADE BAN—the best performing business angels network in Europe composed of around 170 alumni investors. In the last three years, over $9 million have been invested in student projects through this group.

Student entrepreneurs then become part of ESADECREAPOLIS, an ecosystem providing access to research, events, and competitions in which 52 startups have been nurtured so far.

BusinessBecause spoke to Melanie to find out more about her project, and how ESADE Business School is helping her bring it to life.

How did the idea for your startup come about?

The idea was born two years ago in Colombia, while working full-time for our family business in the cosmetic industry. Since my sisters and I were very young, we've been involved in the development of the company's products.

We also grew up on the coast, and are invested in taking care of our health. This meant that we wanted to develop a sun-care product line with innovative biotechnological ingredients.

Harmful chemicals in products and problems resulting from excess exposure to the sun are key issues we want to tackle with our brand. We believe in this project, not just to create a profitable business, but to generate greater consciousness around responsible consumption and healthier ingredients.

Why is corporate social responsibility important in the cosmetic industry?

Even though progress has been made with the emergence of organic brands, harmful ingredients we are commonly unaware of are still present in many of the products we use. Also, despite NGOs' fierce work and impact, animal testing remains an issue.

The beauty and cosmetic industry is one of the biggest fast-moving consumer goods industries in the world. The bigger number of customers we are reaching, the greater our responsibility.

We have to keep delivering safe products, make use of cleaner raw materials, and move away from animal testing. This requires innovation and the creation of responsible business models that generate value to society and the environment.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at ESADE Business School?

Aside from its high-ranking, I was inspired by ESADE’s culture. The school leverages diversity and a collaborative spirit, developing soft skills through strong team-building philosophies. This makes graduates stand-out when they return to the real business world. Other key factors were ESADE’s broad network, its location in Barcelona, and the school’s support for entrepreneurship.

How will your MBA benefit your entrepreneurial venture?

Applying the knowledge acquired in the program will enable me to make smarter business decisions and assure sustainable growth. Leveraging ESADE’s broad network is also a milestone for being able to grow in the industry. It has already provided the opportunity to connect with key players in major companies.

During our entrepreneurship course, we were given the opportunity to work on our idea, and equipped with the tools to establish a business model, form a market strategy, calculate our financials, and identify channels of distribution. Pitching our idea to our peers, professors, and to potential investors was perfect for receiving thorough and constructive feedback.

ESADE Business School is a place where the ‘dream big’ mentality is celebrated. Our next step is joining ESADE E-Works, the school's platform for nurturing entrepreneurial ideas through E-Founders meet-ups, the provision of a co-working space on campus, and an accelerator program.

What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?

Clearly have in mind what you want to get out of this experience, and do your research. This way, you'll know what to look for in different business schools; their programs; and further opportunities schools can offer.

Once you're in, enjoy it 500%, because it passes by fast. Be open to learning, break old patterns, and build strong relationships with friends you will make along the way. What you will gain will certainly broaden the way you experience and see the world.