While pursuing MBAs at London's Cass Business School, Richard Crosfield and Iñigo Alegria were faced with an overwhelming array of bars and pubs, with an even more impressive range of events and activities. What they lacked was a way to keep track of it all.
Barzlive, Richard’s free, easy-to-use app, lets users immediately view events at bars around them, from happy hour to cabaret. Likewise, bars and pubs can post and promote their own events. There’s also a website for desktop users.
We talked to Richard about the story behind Barzlive, how Cass nurtures entrepreneurship and what his MBA did for him.
What gave you the idea to start Barzlive?
Being foreign students in London, my co-founder Iñigo and I realized how unaware we were of everything going on in the pubs and bars around us.
Not only were we missing out on televised sports and live music, we were also oblivious to more unorthodox activities, like poetry reading and dance classes.
With the support and advice Cass offered us, we decided to start Barzlive, and are now modernising communications between bars and their customers.
What are the main challenges you’ve faced with Barzlive, and do you have any advice for entrepreneurial MBAs?
Choosing the right development team was certainly a struggle. We initially made a mistake by hiring a freelancer, so his commitment was always going to be an issue. We also made poor decisions on the type of technology that would underpin Barzlive. Though we now have a brilliant CTO in Raul Martinez, Iñigo and I are only just eliminating that “technical debt”.
Even though MBAs can run a business, your development team fills a critical role, so make sure you find the right one.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Cass?
I decided to move to London when the financial crisis happened in Spain. Even though I already had an engineering degree, I thought an MBA would be a better way to enter the job market.
Cass was being touted as the best one-year MBA in the city, and was very strong in finance and strategy, two tracks I wanted to explore. Additionally, it had an entrepreneurship fund and a start-up incubator, which I would later use to my advantage.
What should applicants take into consideration when deciding upon an MBA?
Consider realistically which career jumps you want to take with regards to change of role, industry, and country. After that, applicants should evaluate the school’s location, reputation and the length of program they want to do.
If applicants want to start a business, I’d recommend the one-year program because it offers the same intensity you will experience as an entrepreneur.
How have you profited from your MBA experience?
The MBA was a stepping stone to becoming an entrepreneur. In leaving Spain I had already overcome the worry of giving up a good job, and by being on a one-year program I could justify spending a second year putting into practice what I’d learned.
It gave me a fantastic overview of how a company works from top to bottom and an excellent network of colleagues, staff and alumni. And, of course, I met Iñigo at Cass and we wrote the thesis for what would later become Barzlive.
As Cass alumni, we were given access to free space and mentorship at their incubator. We were also invited to weekly start-up related lectures organised by City’s partnership with media company Unruly.
What are your plans for the future?
We currently have a pipeline of features that we would like to introduce in the coming months to boost engagement with Barzlive. In addition, we’ll be seeking investment to hire more people so that we can realise our ambitious plans.