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Here’s How Monaco’s MBA Entrepreneurs Are Tapping Into Finance, Fashion And Big Data

25% of MBAs from the International University of Monaco (IUM) go on to start their own businesses after graduation

Wed Oct 12 2016

The principality of Monaco has a young, vibrant and flourishing business community. And ambitious entrepreneurs are flocking to the International University of Monaco’s AMBA-accredited MBA program where they’re given access to it, as well as the tools to succeed.

At IUM, 25% of MBA graduates go onto start their own businesses, profiting from the school’s extensive industry contacts, supportive alumni network and entrepreneurship and innovation management specialization.

We spoke to three budding entrepreneurs in finance, fashion and big data to find out why they chose IUM for their MBA and how the school has helped kick-start their entrepreneurial venture.

Markus Schuller, MBA ‘05

In 2009, Markus founded Panthera Solutions, a Monaco-based advisory company for professional investors. It’s had almost 100 clients since its inception. Markus is also now an adjunct professor at IUM.

I chose the MBA in Monaco based on my affinity for entrepreneurship and capital markets. IUM is the last man standing in terms of good European schools for finance. If you combine that with the entrepreneurial spirit at the school, it’s a fruitful combination.

At IUM, I learnt to understand that in entrepreneurship it’s ok to fail. That being an entrepreneur is more than creating spreadsheets and wearing a nice suit and tie; it’s about developing something new at the knowledge frontier. And I gained access to the vibrant Monaco business community.


[At Panthera Solutions] we’re bridging the gap between theory and practice. I’ve been in investment banking for more than 15 years, the first 10 on the sell side. I’ve always had an affinity for academia, and [in 2009] I saw that there was a new generation in academic thinking in portfolio management; in how portfolios are constructed and how risk is defined.

I thought it was a good time to switch from the sell side to the buy side, and help professional investors make more rational investment decisions.

Dora Tokai, MBA ’13


Dora established her eponymous high-fashion brand in Monaco during her MBA. She’s now based mostly in Dubai where she’s also launched a non-profit online platform for modern middle eastern art.

I got really interested in fashion when I was working as a designer in Singapore. I started dressing my friends and working with a tailor to design shirts and trousers. He told me that quite a few people had come back to him, showed him photos and videos of my friends wearing my designs, and wanted the same items. So I decided to sell them myself.

IUM appreciates entrepreneurially minded people. And the MBA meant easy access to Monaco which was an interesting place to start my brand.

The biggest advantage of IUM is the small class size. We got a lot of attention compared with other universities. The professors were very emotionally invested in the students; they knew us personally and they had a lot of time for us. Even now, they’re more than happy to support us in any way they can.

Giulia Gualdi, MBA ’15


Giulia transitioned from academia into starting her own business developing data-driven web and mobile apps after her MBA. She’s balancing work and family life. She co-founded the business with her husband and MBA colleague. And she had a baby during her MBA.

I went straight from theoretical physics into an MBA, which was quite a leap! For me, the world of academia started to be too remote from reality. And I was looking for a way to apply my skills to a different world.

Monaco is small but attracts a lot of diversity. People come here with the idea to change their life. The nature of Monaco, and a short MBA program, attracts people who want to make the big change. As a mum with a five-month old baby it was tricky, but we managed!

I want to do something I’m passionate about, innovate, and make a difference. For me, the MBA is a long-term investment. The more I proceed into my solo-adventure, the more I’ll reap the benefits.