Collaborating Across HEC Paris Programs Helped this Entrepreneur and EMBA Student Breathe Life into his Business

This serial entrepreneur chose the HEC Paris Executive MBA program to sharpen his leadership toolkit and broaden his network. He never imagined he'd be able to use his time as a student to make real headway into his next business by tapping into other programs at HEC Paris.

HEC Paris in Qatar alum and Doha-based serial entrepreneur, Nuwaid Pocker, EMBA ‘22, found out firsthand about the vast network of entrepreneurial resources made available to him at HEC Paris.

Nuwaid laid the groundwork for his exciting contact management app, Moniqa, by tapping into HEC Paris’ sprawling entrepreneurship network.

EMBA Professor Sihem Ben Mahmoud, who heads the HEC Paris X-Entrepreneurs progam —a Master’s Degree-granting program offered jointly with the Ecole Polytechnique— suggested that Nuwaid pitch his company for inclusion.

“I wanted to get the groundwork and research done for Moniqa: a feasibility study, user profiling, needs analysis, competitor benchmarking, interviews, empathy map, and so on” Nuwaid said.

The X-Entrepreneurs program pairs ambitious masters’ students from both HEC Paris and partner school Ecole Polytechnique with HEC-affiliated entrepreneurs. Each project pitch is carefully scrutinized to make sure there is maximum value extraction potential for both project and participants.

Ready to submit your own startup project for X-Entrepreneurs consideration like Nuwaid? Learn more here. 

Idea to Business Plan: the Power of Collaboration and Diversity

Once Moniqa was selected as a project, three HEC Paris/Ecole Polytechnique master’s students and a mentor were assigned to drive the work forward.

“The team was impressively focused on the vision,” Nuwaid remarked. “They turned the project from an idea into a concrete business model in just seven weeks.

They conducted 40 interviews, analyzed data, created surveys, studied the market and competitors, modeled the business, forecasted financials, and, most importantly to Nuwaid, pitched to a jury.

“I worked closely with the three master’s students who were assigned to my project, providing guidance and support as they conducted market research, built pitch decks, and presented their findings to me and then a jury group,” he says.

“Moniqa received great feedback during the pitch, and the team went on to create a rough prototype with a basic interface.”

Feedback from potential users helped Nuwaid and his team adjust the app’s features and design to better suit their needs.

“Moniqa went from being an idea to an early-stage business plan in a matter of weeks when all hands joined.”

Another cool perk Nuwaid can’t help but mention?

“All of this was free!”

HEC Paris EMBA Nuwaid Pocker and HEC Paris X Entrepreneurs students

With the X-Entrepreneurs program at HEC Paris, Nuwaid was able to turn his concept into a concrete business plan and bring his app to life— for free. He has since assembled a technology development team building the prototype for Moniqa based on the X-Entrepreneurs Master’s students’ findings.

“I am so proud and impressed working with all four X-Entrepreneur members, Nehmat Rizk, Gaspard Espitallier, Maxime Zehnder, and mentor Joël Cordier . I learned a lot from all of them,” Nuwaid wrote on LinkedIn.

“In seven weeks, three young entrepreneurship students from the X-HEC Entrepreneurs program reaffirmed my belief in the power of vision.”

He later added, “we were people of 3 different generations, which helped a lot in bringing various perspectives together. This was extremely important to a project like Moniqa because it revolved around human interaction, which has evolved immensely over the past several years.”

From Qatar to France, Entrepreneurship and Collaboration, the HEC Paris Way

Nuwaid took the time to discuss his experience tapping into the vast apparatus of resources, networks, and ideas at his disposal as a student at HEC Paris, and how he decided the HEC Paris Executive MBA was the right fit for him.

HEC Paris EMBA graduate Nuwaid Pocker graduates from HEC Paris in 2022

Why did you choose the HEC Paris Executive MBA program? 

Nuwaid Pocker: I have been a full-time entrepreneur since 2015. Truth be told, my original reason for joining the EMBA program at HEC Paris was to scale Dieture, the healthy food subscription business I founded in 2018.

Dieture grew fast. However, as we began gearing for scaling, I realized how much I did not know. I needed to broaden my perspective and acquire more knowledge. And for that, it was necessary to be in an environment that was challenging and be asked the right questions.

For both geographical reasons and its international reputation, the HEC Paris Executive MBA program stood out as the perfect option. Many of my friends were already part of its global network of alums, the faculty and resources were renowned, and the diverse cohort of students from different industries and backgrounds was highly appealing. Furthermore, I could do the program without taking long breaks from work.

The campus in Qatar, as well as Paris, also promised a unique opportunity to experience different cultures and business environments, which further influenced my decision to join.

During the EMBA, were you able to bring in a challenge from work so your classmates could help you workshop a solution?

NP: Absolutely. One of the most valuable aspects of the HEC Paris EMBA program was the opportunity to engage with classmates from different industries and backgrounds.

I had leaders from food delivery businesses, logistics, software, health and finance – all seated right around me. This diversity of experience and expertise meant that there was always someone in the classroom who could offer unique insights and perspectives on any challenge I brought to the table.

The program also emphasized a collaborative approach to learning, which meant that everyone was encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas freely. This created a highly supportive and dynamic learning environment that helped me to develop new solutions to challenges in my business.

How did the process of walking through the doors on your first day as an EMBA participant to applying to X-Entrepreneurs to making Moniqa happen occur?

NP: During my Specialization week in Paris, I met Professor Ben Mahmoud, who heads the entrepreneurship and innovation program at HEC Paris.

We discussed my next entrepreneurial interest to create a contact management app that could help strengthen both business and personal relationships.

As we discussed my desire to connect with other students who could contribute to the project, Jouni recommended I apply to the X-Entrepreneurs program, which she thought would be a great fit for the business idea.

I applied to the program and was thrilled when my project, Moniqa, was selected.

How did the experience of working across the broader HEC Paris entrepreneurship apparatus impact your company?

NP: Working across programs was an incredibly rewarding experience. As an EMBA student in Qatar, I was able to connect with a diverse cohort of executives from different industries and backgrounds.

This gave me a broad perspective on business that I would not have been able to gain otherwise.

Working with the X-Entrepreneurs program, which is made up of young students from HEC Paris and Ecole Polytechnique, provided a unique opportunity to collaborate with talented and motivated individuals from different academic backgrounds.

The master’s students brought fresh ideas and perspectives to the project, which challenged me to think differently about my business.

Meanwhile, I could use many of my EMBA connections to conduct interviews and open doors to various user groups.

Overall, my experience working across programs is a testament to the power of collaboration and the importance of diversity that our alumni network can bring in driving innovation and success.

More CEOs of Fortune Global 500 companies have graduated from HEC Paris than any other university in Europe. Nearly 4,000 graduates are currently CEOs, CFOs, or have founded their own companies. The Executive MBA at HEC Paris perennially ranks among the best in the world; click here to learn more.

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