For those interested in exploring entrepreneurship as a career path, I highly recommend you roll up your sleeves and actually try to build a real startup during your time at INSEAD.
Ian Weng

Ian Weng

Nationality/Passport: Canadian Year of graduation: 2021 Current Role: Co-Founder & CEO, SPATULA Foods

So Ian, you recently graduated from the INSEAD MBA programme. What have you been up to?

After the MBA, I returned to Canada to build my new venture SPATULA Foods full time. This was actually a company that we started building during the IVC process while I was at INSEAD. SPATULA is a chef-to-customer frozen meals marketplace that is reinventing frozen food in Canada. We do this by delivering gourmet, flash frozen meals, crafted by award-winning local chefs. Meals will be delivered right to our customer’s door, and can be heated up in minutes in a pan with the stir of a spatula.

Since being back, we’ve been working on product development, fundraising, and growing the team. We are super excited to be launching our product into the market in January!

What can you tell us about the entrepreneurship community at INSEAD?

INSEAD was an amazing ecosystem for building a startup.

From like-minded colleagues to courses and programmes designed to support entrepreneurs, INSEAD provided the support and network that we needed as we built SPATULA while on campus. Outside of class, the IVC significantly influenced our startup’s growth and trajectory. The competition forced us to be disciplined in building our venture so that we didn’t get lost in all of the other exciting opportunities and distractions that come with an MBA programme. On top of that, the guidance and advice that the IVC mentors, advisors, and competition organisers provided were invaluable.

Can you share your thoughts about the class experience, professors, the curriculum – did they help in working towards your goal with SPATULA?

INSEAD offers a broad range of courses that cater to students looking to pursue a path in entrepreneurship. There are of course venture building courses that provide aspiring entrepreneurs a roadmap on the nuts and bolts of how to build a business. Professor Raomal Perera’s Startup Booster course was one of these foundational courses that helped me drive structure as we built out our venture.

There are also functional courses that are not startup-related, but are also instrumental in driving insight and learnings as we built SPATULA. One of these courses was Professor Pierre Chandon’s “Body Business – Understanding Food and Wellbeing”. The course walked through years of research on how branding, nutritional labeling and packaging affected consumer perception and purchasing behaviour of food products. Most of the topics we learned in this class were extremely relevant to SPATULA, and greatly influenced how we thought about marketing, branding, and pricing at the company. One of the most critical takeaways from the course was the effect of epicurean food labelling and its effect on the consumer’s perception of the product.

Your wife’s support was a big part of your MBA experience. How is the partner community at INSEAD?

I am very grateful for my wife’s support throughout my MBA experience.

In addition to being there throughout the INSEAD journey, she was also instrumental in helping the team build SPATULA.

Due to COVID-19, there weren’t as many partners at INSEAD compared to previous years. This meant that she had the opportunity to meet and spend more time with my classmates, and effectively integrated into our MBA class. She felt very welcomed by the entire student community, and built life-long friendships during our time at INSEAD. As a result, she is as (if not more) excited about our upcoming one-year reunion as I am!

Any tips for those who are considering an INSEAD MBA?

For those interested in exploring entrepreneurship as a career path, I highly recommend you roll up your sleeves and actually try to build a real startup during your time at INSEAD.

This is one of the only “risk free” opportunities, or at least lowered opportunity cost chances you’ll get to dive into an idea and build a venture. The INSEAD community and ecosystem is highly supportive, and there are so many resources to support you along the way. Best case scenario, you build the beginnings of a successful venture. Worst case scenario, you find out that entrepreneurship is not for you, but you learned a ton along the way.