40under40 Groundbreakers

IESE alumni recognized as innovative global entrepreneurs

17/10/2017 Barcelona

IESE "40under40" | IESE Business School
The 40 start-ups recognized by IESE 40under40 have created 2,197 jobs and generated income of €251 million | Photo: IESE Business School

Letgo, an app for buying and selling second-hand products in the U.S., has become in record time (502 days) the world's youngest unicorn start-up, worth more than $1 billion.

Shazura is a visual search platform that offers instant image and video recognition, and can scale billions of images in seconds. Already patented in 50 countries, it has become "the Google of images".

Enrique Linares and Sira de la Coba, the respective co-founders of Letgo and Shazura, are just two of the 40 alumni under age 40 selected for the IESE 40under40 list by the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC), in recognition of their highly successful start-up initiatives.

The 40 business projects have created 2,197 jobs in 12 countries, receiving €544 million in external investment, and generating €251 million in annual revenue. Half of the start-ups were born within the last five years, and 17% of them began their activity by bootstrapping, without external funding.

According to Prof. Mª Julia Prats, academic director of the EIC, "Since its beginnings, IESE has fostered the entrepreneurial spirit and has supported students in the creation of new companies, with multiple initiatives oriented toward supporting them, helping in their search for funds and offering mentoring. We believe that the selection of the IESE 40under40 will bring visibility to current entrepreneurs and will inspire budding entrepreneurs. All of the projects stand out for their innovative and inspiring character and for creating jobs, an added value for society."


More on the 40 Selected Start-ups

Among the projects selected for the IESE 40under40 are a number of e-commerce and technology platform-based initiatives. They operate in countries such as China, Brazil, Germany, the UK, Mexico, Italy, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, and Nigeria. In the case of Spain, the jury of experts selected 17 business projects with headquarters in the country.

Here is some additional information about the selected entrepreneurs and their projects:

  • They range in age from 31 years old to 37 years old.
  • 45% of the projects have headquarters outside Spain.
  • The projects were founded between 2001 and 2016.
  • The alumni completed these IESE programs: MBA (53%), EMBA (28%), GEMBA (5%), PDD (8%), PDG (5%) and SEP (3%).
  • Six projects stemmed from the purchase of pre-existing start-ups.
  • 17% of the projects used bootstrapping, with no need for external funding.
  • 65% of the start-ups have service-based business models (35% product-based).


3 Winning Projects

The 40 entrepreneurs were chosen by a jury of international experts, based on a rigorous analysis of the viability of the projects, and especially their impact on society in terms of social contribution and employment generation.

Of the 40, the jury will select the three most outstanding projects: the most innovative, the project with the greatest social impact, and the one with the best growth trajectory.

The final winners will be announced at an event on November 28 at the Barcelona campus, which will bring together many of the selected entrepreneurs, as well as other members of the entrepreneurial community.

The jury – which will also be present at the awards event – is composed of national and international experts in the development of new business projects, such as Lucas Carné, co-founder of Privalia; Brian Cohen, founding partner and president of New York Venture Angels; Jonathan Moules, Financial Times journalist specialized in entrepreneurship; Pedro Nueno, professor of Entrepreneurship Initiative at IESE; Raimundo Sala, general manager of PayPal; and Ignasi Salvador, director of innovation at Celsa Group.