Stay tuned for interviews and stories of our amazing alumni.

Our Mentoring Program is Live!

Dear CEMSies, the CEMS Sydney Alumni Mentoring Program has started during the S2 of 2016! The mission of the newly launched initiative is to foster relationships among CEMS students and alumni, promoting personal and professional development. Many Alumni students joined and exchanged with CEMSies. This program is offered to all CEMSies of Sydney at the beginning of the semester to get in touch with an alumni they can elect and events are organised to contribute to this program. If you are interested, register!

Alexis Soulopoulos

(Master of Management CEMS ’14) Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mad Paws

What inspired you to launch Mad Paws?

Mad Paws was conceptualised after
I pet-sat for a good friend who was struggling to and a place for his labrador, Honey, to stay while he travelled. The last thing he wanted was to leave Honey locked up in a kennel, which can often be a distressing experience for pets. I ordered to look after Honey and it turned into an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I then realised that there were more people out there like me: who love animals, have flexible schedules and would like to earn some extra money.

After coming up with the idea, what were the next few steps you took to make it a reality?
The rst step was to validate the concept. I went to the dog park and spoke to potential customers and dog minders to gauge interest and collect feedback. Next we pushed out a website quite fast (in three months) which did all the basic functions. Since then, we have been continuously improving the website – we base it on ongoing customer feedback.

Have you always been entrepreneurial?

Before Mad Paws, I was studying at Business School where I had my first experience with building a team by founding the CEMS Club Sydney. Together we organised corporate and social events for about 100 students. In six months we were elected as the 3rd best CEMS Club and the fastest growing worldwide – out of the global CEMS alliance which includes 30 partner universities. During my Master of Management (CEMS), there was a lot of focus on entrepreneurship: professors and students were very passionate about this topic, it got everyone, including myself, interested in doing more.

What are some of the biggest hurdles you faced along the way?
Achieving a balance between demand and supply – having a large number of sitters is only the beginning. It is very important to connect demand with supply in a smart way. For this reason we put a lot of emphasis on understanding our user base. We called up more than 5000 sitters and customers. The launch of the mobile app in June last year is an example of answering our users’ need for more convenient ways of communicating about their pets.

Another challenge was the rapid expansion of our team, which went from three people to 12 in a month. This change was very exciting and impactful at the same time. For me as a leader, it was challenging to set up the new structure to make sure the team could work as best as possible together.

Where do you draw your inspiration and how do you stay innovative?
People. Being surrounded by talented individuals and learning from them has been vital to my own development
as well as to the development of our company. I recognise that I have been fortunate to be united by such amazing people: our advisers, our incredible employees and other start-ups. It amazes me how many people in the Australian start-up community happily pass on their knowledge.

What’s your advice for emerging entrepreneurs?
There is a lot I could say here, but I’ll focus on three clear learnings I’ve taken from this experience so far. Firstly, focus on one metric you want to maximise. For us that’s bookings (pet stays). For everything else, good is great, perfect is too much. This rule helps you to focus on what’s important.

Secondly, wow your customers. We go above and beyond to provide the best possible service to our users and the impact of it is very clear. The best way to build a really good product is to know your users really well. To do that, being close to your users is important.

Lastly, it’s all about people. You can’t build an A-company without A-people.

For more information, visit: