Adrian Walker MBA 2014

Since graduating, Adrian Walker MBA 2014, has made the move from powerhouse consultancy firm to flourishing startup, Magicfloor. In the lead up to him stepping into the role of CEO in September, he told us a little about the move to the startup environment, how he’s putting the skills he learned on the Full-Time MBA programme to use and where to from here for the business.

Adrian Walker FT MBA 2014

You made the leap from PwC to start-up, Magicfloor, congratulations. What was the appeal of moving into a start-up for you?

You can learn an incredible amount at a start-up. It allows you to take on a lot of responsibility right from the start. At Magicfloor I have been responsible for our HR and personnel strategy, international business development strategy, our marketing strategy, finances, and I’m the first point of contact for the international media, I get to be the face of Magicfloor.

Due to the lack of a corporate structure you can actually build and develop a company culture and your own structures. This gives you an immense feeling of satisfaction and my learning curve is incredibly steep. All the soft and hard skills I develop at Magicfloor are transferable and I will always be able to apply these skills wherever my career takes me.

In particular, Magicfloor attracted me due to their international set-up, having offices in Switzerland, Germany and Dubai. This means I get to work inter-culturally and can apply my set of languages. What’s more, the product and concept of Magicfloor convinced me – I believe there is an outstanding market potential on a global scale.

You did an MBA at the Business School, did this help you to make the transition from big firm to start-up?

My Full-Time MBA helped equip me with the right tools to manage the transition from big firm to start-up. Imperial College Business School offers an outstanding platform to engage with start-ups. I took part in the VCC Challenge 2014 and was the external consultant to a start-up in the biochemical sector. This allowed me to practice how to pitch and to learn about concepts such as lean start-up or how to write up a business plan. You also get to know many other start-ups, so you already get to discuss challenges, fears or ambitions a typical start-up faces and you automatically get to be part of the London start-up community, thanks to Imperial College.

The Imperial MBA’s programme leaders encouraged me to take this step as they realized how important it is for students to get hands-on experience during their MBA in their chosen field. In my case this was the start-up environment, so I worked as an intern during the summer period for a small London based start-up in the venture capital industry.

The Imperial MBA programme offered many electives and subjects which helped me explore my entrepreneurial thinking. For example, the elective ‘Social Media’ equipped me with valuable tools to introduce online marketing concepts in a start-up – concepts that I am now applying at Magicfloor.

In your experience so far, what would you say the key to success in the luxury goods market is?

The key to success is to appear approachable to the client. That’s what we achieved with our recently established showroom in Dubai. It enables us to talk to and listen to the client and their needs. This way we can offer our unique, bespoke and tailored products to our customers who value the time we take to make sure everybody can share their individual and exclusive story with us.

What advice would you give alumni or current students looking to make a similar career change?

Take advantage of what Imperial College Business School has to offer. Step out of your comfort zone and take part in the start-up competitions the School organizes. There is such an unrivalled buzz going on at Imperial College with such bright, amazing and open people. Challenge yourself and be courageous enough to speak to as many people as possible about your career plans. I did that and got my internship at the Venture Capital company in London by speaking to people in the start-up community. Remember that people love to talk about their careers and their work – and they will also listen to you and your ideas. Embrace this opportunity and you will get something valuable out of it.

What’s next for Magicfloor?

At Magicfloor we’re in the process of expanding internationally. For this purpose I am currently talking to many potential business partners in many countries in order to sign distributor agreements. We even consider opening new showrooms in collaboration with potential partners in order to showcase our products even better. A a consequence of this expansion I will be looking for talented people to join our organisation.

We’re also working on the design of our furniture range and looking at organizing an internship for an exceptionally talented student or recent graduate with designer experience and with a certain degree of technical knowledge.

To find out more about Magicfloor, visit their page on the Business Directory

If you would like to get in touch with Adrian, send an email to the Alumni Relations team, alumni-business@imperial.ac.uk