Entrepreneurial initiatives selected in the award’s first and second editions were reinforced to propose transformative actions on topics such as transportation and public health
Since 2019, the Insper student and alumni communities can submit their entrepreneurial and innovative projects for the José Eduardo Ermírio de Moraes Award. It was created in a partnership with the José Ermírio de Moraes Neto family to honor Insper alumnus José Eduardo Ermírio de Moraes (1983–2013). Moreover, it is a celebration that seeks to strengthen and encourage initiatives with the potential to transform the business environment and society.
Among those awarded in its first two editions, some projects such as the startup E-moving and the website coronacidades.org stand out for promoting new ways of thinking about topics such as urban transportation and public health.
For Gisele Amorim, a member of the 3rd José Eduardo Ermírio de Moraes Award‘s organizing committee, initiatives like these are closely linked to Insper’s mission to promote problem-solving. “Awarding these projects brings reflections not only for those who effectively win the award but for society as a whole, promoting and giving visibility to new ideas.”
Proposing new paths
It was from an apparently banal situation that alumnus Gabriel Arcon had the idea to found the startup E-moving in 2014. At the time, he worked in the financial market and drove to and from the office, experiencing a delay of 45 minutes to 1.5 hour per commute. Seeking to reduce his commuting time, Arcon started cycling, but it would still take him 25 minutes, and he arrived at work sweaty.
After doing some research, he bought an electric bicycle. At the time, such a vehicle was still not very common in Brazil. With the bicycle, the commute started to take about 18 minutes. That personal experience motivated the entrepreneur to create a monthly subscription business for electric bicycles. “That problem I had — of daily mobility to go to and from work — is one that a large part of society has. It was looking for the solution that I decided to set up a business”, says Arcon.
Before getting the idea off the ground, he surveyed across Brazil which business models already existed in that format. At the time, none existed. So, Arcon saw the opportunity to start breaking into this market from scratch. In the beginning, he bought the bicycles from local suppliers. Then, his company started to create its own electric bike, offered to subscribers.
“At first, we didn’t know how much to charge the customer, nor how to do it. And at the time, there was not that much recurrence and automatic credit card debit payment”, says the alumnus. “We were discovering new paths, testing a lot, making a lot of mistakes too.”
In 2019, Arcon submitted his project for the José Eduardo Ermírio de Moraes Award. He won third place, receiving R$ 40,000 to invest in his business. Besides the award, Arcon reaffirms that the achievement represented a great appreciation. It is a competition held at the leading business school in Brazil to reward entrepreneurs and leaders who positively impact society.
“Our society needs to increasingly encourage entrepreneurship. I think this award is an incentive for more people to take their ideas off the ground and really put into practice all the cultural baggage and knowledge acquired during their education”, says Arcon.
Fighting the pandemic
In 2020, given the crisis scenario brought on the pandemic, the award was reformulated. It now includes a category specially dedicated to innovation amid crises. With that in mind, projects dedicated to tackling the coronavirus’s challenges in different levels competed for a R$ 100,000-prize.
The coronacidades.org was the award’s winner project of 2020. It came about through the initiative of the NGO Impulso, which works to assist governments and public managers. Insper alumna Isabel Opice, director and co-founder of the organization, says she noticed a demand for quality content to guide managers right at the pandemic’s onset in March 2020.
The way found to solve this problem was to create a platform that allowed the constant exchange of information: The coronacidades.org website. “For us, something vital has always been to understand what is happening within the government,” says Isabel. “So, it was crucial to have contact with public managers’ needs to offer them the best content, testing their receptivity to it.”
As it was a time of crisis, various forms of action were necessary. Besides the website, there is a chat to answer questions online, as well as technical support and courses. The coronacidades.org is a service that has developed according to the demand felt. At a time of concern about alert levels, the “Farol Covid” (“Covid Beacon”) had emerged. When information on testing was lacking, a course and several webinars were proposed. “It was a year of a lot of learning, as the topics were emerging, and we had to pursue the information and pass it on,” says the alumna.
For her, the process of participating in the award was also an opportunity to reflect on the project and its path. The NGO’s closer relationship with Insper was also a very positive factor after winning the award. It provided an opportunity for interaction with the school’s research team.
Isabel also highlights the institutional video produced by the awards organization. The opportunity to record the video allowed her to tell the story of the initiative and use the material in fundraising campaigns. “I hope more projects apply because the [submission] process by itself is worth it at every step. The public notice already allows for several reflections; the qualifiers generate great recognition and promotion. And for those who win, the celebration is even greater, of course”, says Isabel.
Watch the video produced for the 2020 awards: