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Venture Lab Stand-outs: Where are they now?

Venture Lab Stand-outs: Where are they now? | IE Business School

Take a look at successful projects from previous years and see how well they fared.

Every year, hundreds of students prepare projects for promising startups in Venture Lab with an eye on making it to Venture Day, IE’s startup competition that brings together the entrepreneurial community. After securing their spot, participants compete for the coveted titles of first, second or third place– with the accompanying recognition and exposure to potential investors. 

But what happens next? How do these business ideas transition to the marketplace? How do they fare in the real world? 

Madrid hosts two Venture Days annually, with more than 500 attendants. Additionally, Venture Days take place in cities around the world, connecting the entrepreneurial community across all continents. In past years, cities such as Shanghai, Tokyo, Miami, Bogota, London, Santiago de Chile, Paris have hosted Venture Days. 

Thirty percent of IE University alumni have begun a startup at some point in their career and IE Business School has long been recognized as an incubator for innovative entrepreneurs. In its 2022 Global MBA ranking, the Financial Times ranked IE Business School fourth in the world and first in Europe for entrepreneurship.

What sets apart the startups that succeed from the other 90%? 

For Venture Lab Managing Director Paris de l’Etraz, the key is persistence. 

“You need to be driven and passionate. It’s going to be tough and the world is not fair so you need resilience like you have never needed before.”
Paris de l’Etraz, Venture Lab Managing Director

Here are six businesses that won recognition at Venture Day within the past three years. Check out where they are now:

Stitch Easy

Stitch Easy | IE Business SchoolFounders:

Aditya Baja, Rana Raouf Farag, and Franco Masso (all International MBA alumni)


2nd place, Venture Day December 2020


The three co-founders of Stitch Easy are not novice entrepreneurs. They discussed the mistakes they made in their previous startups during their International MBA classes they shared at IE– and came up with the idea of Stitch Easy. Stitch Easy is a market network connecting fashion brands to sustainable manufacturers. They launched in June 2021 when the three completed their MBA. Since then, they have grown to a team of 10 people and have added some 100 clients who use their services.

"The Venture Lab was definitely a catalyst for us. It made us ready to face the real world while providing a safe space to test our ideas and develop our skills. Our degree and venture lab in particular helped us take the leap of faith when it mattered."
Aditya Bajaj, Stitch Easy’s founders


Vive | IE Business SchoolFounders:

Jesse Johnson, Louma Bachrach, Mariana Eraso Brewer, and Bruno Garcia (all International MBA alumni) 


3rd place, Venture Day December 2021


VIVE, formerly known as REVIVE, aims to revolutionize the repair and care of luxury jewelry and leather accessories. VIVE is a platform that digitally connects users (in the US) to a network of vetted artisans that deliver high-quality services. Since the Venture Lab, they have developed the product as well as gained their first customers, 11 paying customers to be exact. Their website, byvive.com, is up and running and currently, they are focused on growing their customer base and generating social media buzz. Their upcoming milestones include their first funding round (they are currently bootstrapped), building and executing a strong marketing plan, upgrading the product, working with more artisans, and expanding to other product categories. 

"Our studies at IE, as well as the knowledge gained in the Venture Lab, has helped us take something that feels scary and unclear, like building a new company and approach it with definition and a clear strategy. We've often caught ourselves pulling up old class notes to help us navigate uncertainties."
Jesse Johnson, the CEO of VIVE


Rhyde Logo | IE Business SchoolFounders:

Erik Ojantakanen (BBA) and Sartaaj Hussain (LLB)


1st place, Venture Day July 2021


rhyde’s mission is to neutralize the environmental impact of urban mobility by systematically increasing electric scooter lifetimes through a circular refurbishment process while simultaneously offering the most affordable scooters on the market. Since their victory in Venture Day, rhyde has grown significantly to establish itself as the leading player in its niche. The team also joined MAPFRE’s insur_space accelerator program and are developing a cutting-edge refurbishment facility in Madrid that will serve as the basis for their future growth.

"Participating in the Venture Day provided us with the first real opportunity to put our business idea through scrutiny in front of a panel of accredited and experienced investors. It gave us great exposure and opened some crucial doors; for example, we were introduced to MAPFRE's Global Innovation team through our participation in the event, eventually leading us to participate in their accelerator program."
Erik Ojantakanen

Refuge Skateboards, now Courage Coding Club


Emily Yang (BBA) and Marshall Guan


2nd place, Venture Day July 2021


As a skateboarder and environmentalist at heart, Yang saw an opportunity in the skateboard market which currently chops 10 million maple trees a year to create skateboards. That’s how she came up with Refuge Skateboards: the zero-waste, sustainable skateboard startup. However, a lack of manufacturers forced the founders to pivot their startup idea dramatically. Regardless of the big change, Yang has applied all the knowledge she gained from the Venture Lab, as well as her studies at IE, to bring her new idea to life. Courage Coding Club is the first startup in the world that delivers tailor-made digital solutions for conservation and ESG projects. They are setting up an IT infrastructure and developing their first mini-app for an environmental economics research project that explores the global impact of coastal water contamination on economic development.

"The Venture Lab gave my team the strength and courage to pursue our passion. We're blessed to have such great support by our side."
Emily Yang

Buho Pay


Carlos Argueta (MIM) and Alexandra Salume (BBA BIR)


Semifinalist, Venture Day July 2021


Buho Pay aims to provide small and medium enterprises with the tools and technology that they lack to scale and grow their operations. Buho Pay provides businesses with affordable, high-end technology that makes their processes more efficient and helps them maximise profits through an order streamlining platform and a data analysis dashboard. The founders secured their first capital infusion from an angel investor in December 2020 and are now fully operational in three Latin American countries: El Salvador, Chile, and Venezuela. They have developed their administrative panel, a commerce control panel, and a user interface, as well as a dashboard with analytics for the commerce. Now, the duo is seeking a more substantial investment to grow their team and further the development of the software, as well as expand to more countries. 

"The IE Venture Lab not only taught us the agile methodology which we follow for developing a product that is customer centric, but it also taught us how essential it is to grow resiliency and persist no matter the challenges that arise in our journey."
Alexandra Salume

Candid Tails

Candid Tails | IE Business SchoolFounders:

Sander Rijk, Eugenio Gulminelli, and Alex De Cort (all MIM alumni)


Finalist, Venture Day July 2021


Candid Tails is the first company in Spain to sell Hemp-based products exclusively for animals. Even though their idea pivoted a few times, the founders of Candid Tails believe participating in the Venture Lab and receiving feedback from great mentors and professors in IE like Paris de l’Etraz, was “key” for their startup. Candid Tails was incorporated in March 2021 and had its first sales during that year. They are currently working on closing big deals, researching  with veterinarians, and expanding their product portfolio. They have participated in several fairs to showcase their product and earn recognition in the pet-wellness industry. 

"IE has provided many resources that have helped our startup. For instance, it allowed us to create a collaboration with the IE Entrepreneurship Department and hire over 30 IE interns who have helped us grow our company."
Eugenio Gulminelli