Luis Buitrago MSEL’22 was 10 years old when he spotted his first business opportunity.
Buitrago’s parents had taken him to a nearby amusement park in his hometown of Cali, Colombia, and he noticed that the busy park only had two food carts. Intuitively sensing consumer needs and a solution, he discussed a plan with his parents, dipped into his small savings, and purchased a popcorn cart.
“Entrepreneurship has been a lifelong passion of mine,” Buitrago said. With the help of his parents, he rented a spot in the park, got a permit, bought supplies, and started selling popcorn on the weekends.
“I always look to spot problems and try to create business opportunities around them,” Buitrago said. Business was going so well that he expanded, hiring his first employee at age 10 to help run the cart. Almost two years after starting the business, he sold the business to this employee.
“It was a really cool experience for me, and it taught me a lot,” said Buitrago, who has focused on leveraging opportunities and valuing every experience since starting at Babson College. He came to Babson after earning an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering in Colombia. “I wanted to learn from the best, and when it comes to entrepreneurship, it’s Babson.”
He chose the Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership (MSEL) program because the intensive one-year program focuses on collaboration, experiential learning and leadership, a key skill Buitrago wanted to develop. “It was the perfect fit for me,” Buitrago said.
The program pushed him out of his comfort zone and made him realize that different perspectives can often improve the end result of a project.
“It’s not just the diversity of cultures or nationalities, but the diversity in how people approach school or how they approach projects. It was really difficult for me to work in a group with people who were so different from me,” he said. “But it helped me to embrace diversity and realize that it can be an advantage.”
Jennifer Tosti-Kharas, an associate professor of organizational behavior at Babson, taught Buitrago in her creative leadership class of 50 MSEL students last fall.
“He’s a star,” Tosti-Kharas said. “He’s a leader in the class, he directs the conversation and is that kind of perfect participant. He thinks clearly and connects with the material.
Another eye-opening experience, Buitrago said, was volunteering for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which recently selected Babson as its 2022 corporate volunteer of the year. area high schools, asking Babson students to share business tips and provide entrepreneurial advice to younger students.
“It was an incredible experience. I learned a lot about the reality of these high school students,” Buitrago said. “Being able to talk to them and ask them questions about their dreams, their plan and their business ideas was an experience rewarding.”
Buitrago said he learned another major lesson during his time at Babson — and this one came directly from President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD.
“You have to take the initiative,” Buitrago said. “Babson has plenty of resources, but not all of them will come to you.”
Prior to joining Babson, Buitrago launched a new venture aimed at increasing the success of startup entrepreneurs in Latin America. The company, called El Secreto Para Emprender (ESPE), offers several services to new and more experienced entrepreneurs in Latin America looking to develop their skills and grow their brand.
“My biggest passion is entrepreneurship, and with this business, I want to help Latin American business owners and entrepreneurs build their business and take it to the next level,” Buitrago said.
“My biggest passion is entrepreneurship, and with this business, I want to help Latin American business owners and entrepreneurs build their business and take it to the next level.”
Luis Buitrago MSEL’22, who founded El Secreto Para Emprender
ESPE offers a four-week bootcamp course for young entrepreneurs to learn the basics of business and sharpen their entrepreneurial skills. More than 300 students have taken the course since the company was founded in 2020, Buitrago said. ESPE also offers a subscription-based service for more experienced entrepreneurs that connects subscribers with business leaders, monthly thought leader events, and forums where entrepreneurs can connect and troubleshoot when they run into issues with their growing business.
“When I was accepted at Babson, I added President Spinelli to my LinkedIn contacts, and sent him a message saying that I would like to meet him and tell him about my company. from Babson,” Buitrago said. “I didn’t expect him to respond.”
He did. And now Buitrago, who had a promising meeting with Spinelli and other contacts, hopes to continue his work with Babson long after graduation day.
“One of the things I love about Babson is the people. Even though I’ve only been here a year, I’ve met a lot of nice people,” Buitrago said. class, I made many connections and made friends that I will keep for the rest of my life.
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