The Success in Failure

This February, IE Business School brought together some of Spain and Israel’s most prominent entrepreneurs and investors for a conference about an essential element of the entrepreneurial endeavor: Failure.“The Advantages of Failure,” the first conference of its kind hosted by a business school, asked participants to speak about their greatest failures as entrepreneurs, how they learned from and eventually overcame them. Present in all entrepreneurial markets, the fear of failure is one of the biggest obstacles to fomenting a successful European entrepreneurial ecosystem. In Spain, for example, more than 50% of those interviewed by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the largest single study of entrepreneurial activity in the world, note that the fear of failure is a key impediment to becoming an entrepreneur. 

The start of the conference delved into the lessons learned from experience: 

•Jose María Castillejo, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zinkia Entertainment SA, whose principal product is the animated figure Pocoyo, recounted his experience with a Ukrainian train heist. The son of a local Ukranian politician “hid” a train full of sunflower seeds in order to squeeze Castillejo out of a profitable business exporting sunflower seed oil.

•Jesús Encinar, founder and CEO of Spain’s top real estate website Idealista.com explained how the failures of his parents’ first businesses – and the subsequent need to relocate from his childhood home – made him ever vigilant of bank debt and possible business failure. In 2008, Encinar was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

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