Ricardo Diaz Lombardo San Roman is the first recipient of our new Entrepreneurship Scholarship, introduced in 2017. The first of its kind in the MBA education market, and reflecting the core values of innovation and entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School, the scholarship is awarded to a student on our flagship Full-Time MBA programme with a strong background in entrepreneurship.
The award recognises the value of the MBA at Imperial to entrepreneurs, including the exposure it offers to Imperial’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, in addition to network building and opportunities to pitch for venture capital funding.
In this blog post, Ricardo shares his entrepreneurial story and gives his take on what makes an entrepreneur.
Stepping into a world of possibilities
Ricardo Diaz Lombardo San Roman, the first recipient of the Entrepreneurship Scholarship.
Since I was a young boy, I have always had an innate desire to create and to find new and improved ways of doing things. Such desire is what led me to become an engineer: I naturally think about ways to make everything around me more efficient, whether that’s a process that already exists or just creating a different method that might simplify an action.
It all started when I was nine years old when I set up a shop next to a community swimming pool. I would buy sodas in the vending machine just a couple of blocks from the pool and sell them with a 50 cent profit. People bought from me because I was solving a problem for them. They didn’t mind paying a little extra for a soda and a smile instead of just change from a machine. I loved the sensation.
When turning 13 I started my first business, a hot dog stand in a water park in México, which was a gift from my grandfather. It was not easy at first but after a while I developed an operation plan, and learned how bulk costs, inventory and sales are handled. Sometime later I was able to purchase a second stand and employed two people. This is when I really learned how a small business works. It was my first venture and the catalyst of my entrepreneurial journey.
While in school I always had ideas and projects in mind, and wanted to start a business. The problem was that I didn’t know what I wanted the business to be. I realised that if I didn’t pursue my ideas because I didn’t think they were groundbreaking, I would end up standing in the same spot that I started off. So, I started pursuing my ideas and turning them into reality, realising that I had to start somewhere and the first step would open a world of possibilities.
A broad portfolio of start-up experience
My drive to create has taken me through various ventures and projects across several sectors, including food, healthcare and fashion. Before starting the Full-Time MBA at Imperial, I was Co-Founder and COO for One Leasing and Sky Sense, and Family Officer for Santa Barbara Investments.
My biggest achievements in these roles was successfully raising venture capital investment for One Leasing, launching the first installation for Sky Sense, and restructuring Santa Barbara Investments’ investment portfolio.
“Failure is the opportunity to create wisdom”
After experiencing the life cycle of several start-ups, I understand what it takes to be an entrepreneur. There are tough times, frustrating moments and some high five moments along the way. The idea behind being an entrepreneur is creating something with your own spice and touch. When you realise that the word failure does not exist, it comes to mean “let’s try something different”. That’s when I understood that in order to create something successful, what’s needed is passion, desire and drive: failure is just an opportunity to create wisdom.
It has always been my desire to create a product or service that truly changes the world and how people live. I am convinced that the path to getting there is trial and error. If I stop searching I will never find out what that world changing idea might be – it is my life goal.
The tenacity to be an entrepreneur
Throughout my life, I have learned tenacity and developed the discipline of repeating a task until it has evolved into the best possible process to achieve its highest potential. An entrepreneur has to be hands-on, react well under pressure and develop diverse solutions to problems. It’s a huge undertaking because you assume all the risks for the business. More importantly, you have to have vision, pivoting whilst at the same time maintaining and persevering towards your objective in an infinite number of ways. Dreaming is one thing, but bringing the dream to market is another entirely.
Imperial’s entrepreneurial ecosystem
The MBA is opening a world of opportunities for me. By engaging with the Imperial entrepreneurship community through the Enterprise Lab, I have met successful entrepreneurs, game changers in their industries, and have created valuable connections. I am Vice President of MBA Connect and currently a mentor to a very promising Imperial start-up. I am also a committee member of the Entrepreneurship Club where I have developed a strong network of like-minded entrepreneurs. We are currently working on organising several panels and lectures with experts in different stages of start-ups. I have tapped into the Imperial Alumni network which offers direct connections to very successful professionals and entrepreneurs. All of these interactions have sparked different ideas in me and have broadened my engagement with startups in diverse industries.
An MBA for entrepreneurs
Studying the MBA is giving me important academic foundations to better understand business topics such as accounting, finance, marketing and strategy. Through business cases, research projects and by learning from the exceptional faculty members, I have been able to put theory into practice and further understand the effects of diverse strategies in different business contexts.
The Design Thinking and Innovative Problem Solving module has been very valuable for me as an entrepreneur. It has helped me understand how to structure and proof test an idea in its initial stages, and pushed me to develop ideas and projects based on clever frameworks and processes, which I will certainly apply in my future ventures.
The MBA is also opening many doors for me, I have developed a strong network within my cohort and have also been able to tap into several networks of entrepreneurs outside of Imperial. By being an Imperial MBA student I have been well received by many professionals in the field and have been able to connect with several key players in the industries I am looking into.