Christian Acosta is the founder and CEO of Telanto, a company connecting businesses and academia to solve real-world problems. While working for a pharmaceutical company, he joined the PhD program at ESADE as one of its first participants. ESADE Knowledge: Most PhDs pursue an academic career, but you started your own company. Christian Acosta: When I started the PhD the idea was to relate it to a business idea I had in mind but I kept on working in the industry. I was in a kind of threesome. I was working full-time, I had this idea I wanted to develop and I felt the PhD would give me enough background to move it forward in the right direction. I didn't finish it at that time because I was starting my entrepreneurial life and I had to make decisions. When I sold my first business, I was pretty exhausted with everything I had to go through down the entrepreneurship path and I felt like the PhD was a good moment to resettle. Meeting with my PhD supervisor, he immediately told me I needed to find a corporate sponsor. That was when I started pitching my PhD thesis to a few companies and I ended up working as a PhD candidate with S&P. Afterwards, I pursued a career with them, as they invited me to join them once I finished. After 15 years at S&P I took my next big decision in life to start a new business. What did your experience as a researcher add to your career? Today, there's a huge stream of entrepreneurs and people trying to solve problems. You have to observe a particular need in the market, you have to create something unique and promote it in such a brilliant way that millions of people will buy it from you. That's the Silicon Valley story. Coming up with a good set of methods and tools that help you observe and put the insights you learn into practice so you can come up with solutions is very valuable for your career, as an entrepreneur or even working for a multinational. While completing a PhD you read a lot, and it becomes your pastime. You also have to write a lot, and your writing improves. You can also connect different things and get much more interested in everything surrounding a given problem, tearing down boundaries. And this is great for your career. Your company collaborates with the academic world. How do you do that? Telanto operates in the academic-business network. We provide a cloud solution where we connect businesses and academia. The connection points are real-world company challenges. University professors use them as part of their courses, asking their students to solve them as part of the learning experience, while many companies can't solve those problems on their own for a lot reasons such as a lack of time, skills, resources, etc. How can companies benefit from research? When you talk about research, you think of mid or long-term benefits. But, business is moving very fast today, so you can't engage in research that takes 2, 3 or 4 years; that's too long. Research needs to change, and action learning is a sub-domain of research which actually allows people to find solutions really fast, in a matter of a few months, and that's really good for companies. It's no longer a black box; it's more of an open innovation approach.

ESADE

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"The PhD provides you with valuable methods and tools for your career"

10/2018

Christian Acosta is the founder and CEO of Telanto, a company connecting businesses and academia to solve real-world problems. While working for a pharmaceutical company, he joined the PhD program at ESADE as one of its first participants.


ESADE Knowledge: Most PhDs pursue an academic career, but you started your own company.


Christian Acosta: When I started the PhD the idea was to relate it to a business idea I had in mind but I kept on working in the industry. I was in a kind of threesome. I was working full-time, I had this idea I wanted to develop and I felt the PhD would give me enough background to move it forward in the right direction.


I didn't finish it at that time because I was starting my entrepreneurial life and I had to make decisions. When I sold my first business, I was pretty exhausted with everything I had to go through down the entrepreneurship path and I felt like the PhD was a good moment to resettle. Meeting with my PhD supervisor, he immediately told me I needed to find a corporate sponsor. That was when I started pitching my PhD thesis to a few companies and I ended up working as a PhD candidate with S&P. Afterwards, I pursued a career with them, as they invited me to join them once I finished. After 15 years at S&P I took my next big decision in life to start a new business.


What did your experience as a researcher add to your career?


Today, there's a huge stream of entrepreneurs and people trying to solve problems. You have to observe a particular need in the market, you have to create something unique and promote it in such a brilliant way that millions of people will buy it from you. That's the Silicon Valley story.


Coming up with a good set of methods and tools that help you observe and put the insights you learn into practice so you can come up with solutions is very valuable for your career, as an entrepreneur or even working for a multinational. While completing a PhD you read a lot, and it becomes your pastime. You also have to write a lot, and your writing improves. You can also connect different things and get much more interested in everything surrounding a given problem, tearing down boundaries. And this is great for your career.


Your company collaborates with the academic world. How do you do that?


Telanto operates in the academic-business network. We provide a cloud solution where we connect businesses and academia. The connection points are real-world company challenges. University professors use them as part of their courses, asking their students to solve them as part of the learning experience, while many companies can't solve those problems on their own for a lot reasons such as a lack of time, skills, resources, etc.


How can companies benefit from research?


When you talk about research, you think of mid or long-term benefits. But, business is moving very fast today, so you can't engage in research that takes 2, 3 or 4 years; that's too long. Research needs to change, and action learning is a sub-domain of research which actually allows people to find solutions really fast, in a matter of a few months, and that's really good for companies. It's no longer a black box; it's more of an open innovation approach.

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