The UofSC’s Folks Center for International Business, in partnership with the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise, welcomed international entrepreneur and chief commercial officer Fabio Rozenblum at the Moore School earlier this fall.
Rozenblum has blazed trails as both an entrepreneur and as an intrapreneur on three continents, using his entrepreneurial skills and visionary thinking to create growth opportunities and provide clear benefits while working within a company.
The free public event, “From Board Room to Tech Frontier: An International Entrepreneur’s Journey,” gave students and the public valuable insights on making an impact inside a company as an innovator and challenges of being an international entrepreneur.
During a 35-year period, Rozenblum rose to leadership positions with Mirgor, an Argentine supplier of air conditioning systems for the automotive industry, and later an original equipment manufacturer in consumer electronics.
When he first started with Mirgor, Rozenblum traveled to France with the president of the company at that time. The president did not know how to speak French, so he let Rozenblum do the talking during the negotiations. This experience led him to understand the value of being of an intrapreneur, and he grew within the company fairly quickly.
“I started to feel like I was owning the business, and this is how I believe you have to be an intrapreneur within your work,” he said. “If you propose things and have common sense, I’m sure your boss will value what you do, and you will become important within your company. I believe I was successful in my intrapreneurial role with Mirgor because my bosses let me make decisions."
During his career, Rozenblum came up with an “intrapreneurial” idea he calls the empty spaces theory. This theory involves an employee working on a project or task that no one else is working on or will do.
“In business, it is impossible to cover everything,” he said. “It is important to keep your eyes open to see where your company needs you. From my experience, no one will question why you are working on something no one else is willing to do.”
Rozenblum said his theory is essential to becoming an intrapreneur within a company. To achieve his idea, he says it is critical to understand the company from the top down.
“When you comprehend what your company does and where the empty spaces are, then you can succeed,” he said. “You become an intrapreneur by learning what’s not getting done that the company needs and getting into those empty spaces.”
Building on this experience, Rozenblum decided to leave Mirgor and help create start-ups Voltu Motor and Inkan so he could share his expertise. Voltu, based in both Argentina and California, has original patents for electric vehicle powertrains and power storage. Inkan, based in Barcelona, Spain, focuses on specialized blockchain technology.
Many students were interested to hear from a professional working in two of the most disruptive technologies of the time. Rozenblum spoke to the advantages and challenges of working in a corporate versus an entrepreneurial environment, from security to decision-making power.
Ultimately, he kept it simple, “Try to work on things you like,” Rozenblum said.
In an audience Q&A, Rozenblum expanded on his vision of the blockchain and electric vehicle industries, discussing the challenges of moving rapidly while maintaining high quality in the product. He emphasized the great risks of skimping on testing and quality control, especially in the B2B world, but also allowing employees to make mistakes in the pursuit of innovation.
Rozenblum's forum was co-hosted by Gerald A. McDermott, professor, international business and faculty director of the Folks Center, and Dirk Brown, faculty director of the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise.
Watch the full video of Rozenblum's discussion.