It was at a triathlete meet that Spanish-born manager and consultant Javier Garcia Royo would find the inspiration for his first entrepreneurial venture.
Between studying in Seville, and later working with corporate giants such as Nike and Accenture in Europe and the Americas, he was a keen cyclist, participating in races as his career took him across the globe.
Noticing the sky high price for the racing wheelsets that some of his fellow riders boasted at a race in the Netherlands, an idea formed for the cycling fanatic.
“Carbon-fibre wheelsets can cost anywhere between €1,500 to €5,000. I kept thinking, ‘How could I drop the price and make this equipment more accessible to even more cyclists, and encourage people to ride?’
“My background is in strategy and mergers and acquisitions, but it wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand that I thought this was a perfect place and time to set up a company and try to make things happen.”
The result was Negative Split Carbon (NSC), a New Zealand-based developer of carbon-fibre wheelsets for professional cyclists and racers, that has steadily grown in the four years since its founding in 2018.
“When you create a brand from scratch, people need to know it exists, and you need to make it credible. You need to embed yourself in the ecosystem, show up, and just talk to people.
“Now we have the FernMark, which indicates that our wheels are designed and sold across the world from New Zealand. We also sponsor Black Magic Women’s Cycling and have naming rights for a pro tour.
“It’s been crazy, to be honest. However, I think we are slowly getting there.”
Crucial to Javier’s success with NSC is EDHEC‘s Global MBA. It was his time at the French business school’s campus in Nice that brought values of sustainability into focus and gave him the tools that would enable him to found his business.
“I have always been passionate about sustainability, and that’s what helped lead me to EDHEC. Responsible entrepreneurship is central to the ethos of the Global MBA.”
“When you get your diploma, there’s a paragraph at the bottom that says – I’m paraphrasing here – ‘We’ve given you the tools, and you can make an impact, but you have the responsibility to do so in a way that everybody benefits and that includes minimising your environmental impact.'”
This commitment to sustainability and a responsibility towards future generations goes far beyond the school’s ‘Make an impact’ signature, visible throughout the school’s campuses and projects. It is also reflected in the school’s 2020 – 2025 strategic plan, that seeks to make EDHEC, among other things, the number one business school worldwide, for those seeking to study and research sustainable business. In fact, the Global MBA has been ranked 3rd worldwide for the past 3 years for ESG (Environmental, Social & corporate Governance) & net-zero teaching by the Financial Times.
Javier continues: “When I completed my Global MBA, we covered the principles of running a sustainable business – looking at logistics, international finance, digital innovation and how each dovetails with sustainable practices.
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“It was also a topic that I was able to discuss and learn more about through my professors and frequent guest speakers. There is additionally the global alumni network – a very powerful tool for building relationships and discussing our experiences.
Today, the MBA integrates sustainability throughout the curriculum and also includes a 5-month Sustainable Impact Challenge. The Challenge sees students work on a real-life business issue or opportunity for a range of organisations and is designed to put to the test the knowledge they have gained during the classes into action.
For students, this includes participation in what is called a ‘Learning Expedition’, where students visit countries leading the way in terms of sustainable business development. For Javier, this came with a visit to South Africa and this year the destination was Slovenia.
“We began with an amazing sustainability masters school in the middle of nowhere that was almost self-sufficient, using their waste to generate heating, and growing food. It was incredible.”
“We also saw how South African wineries are working on their community impact, building schools to educate the children of workers, and tackling problems like alcohol abuse.
“One highlight was visiting an area on the outskirts of Cape Town, where around two million people live in housing built from recycled materials. We were able to learn so much about the vibrant and thriving business community there, and how materials are used over and over again.
“Among all these visits, we had a bunch of classes dedicated to sustainability, including the methodologies and frameworks that I could later use with Negative Split Carbon.”
Javier has taken the lessons surrounding sustainability that he learned at EDHEC and is actively applying them to NSC’s rapid growth.
“Sustainability has been at the forefront of our strategy in the past two years. Our first step was committing to ShiftCyclingCulture, and starting this year, we’ll be reporting on our carbon emissions.”
“Now, our priorities are logistics and encouraging a ‘circular economy’ with our product.”, Javier says. “We’re striving to find the best ways of shortening our logistics chains from China, where the wheels are manufactured, to our customers in New Zealand and beyond.
“Then we’re looking at ways that we can keep repairing, reusing and when they’re no longer useful, remaking our wheels into new products – household decor and jewellery, for example.
“We also rent our wheels to cyclists for race days. When they’ve been in our rental fleet for a while, we can then sell them at a discounted price to those who wouldn’t be able to access them otherwise.”
For Javier, the skills and principles he learned at EDHEC have paid dividends in NSC’s growth over the past four years.
“We do get feedback about our sustainable practices. We have cyclists telling us that we’re the only company that is renting out wheelsets, and they go on to tell their friends and communities, and it’s the best kind of advertising.
“There’s more we’ve got planned, but for now, it’s inspiring hearing that we’re beginning to make a difference. It’s good for us, the community, the sport and the world.”
With the customisation and flexibility that allows you to apply sustainable best practice to your dream projects, EDHEC’S Global MBA is the natural choice for tomorrow’s innovators. A new cohort begins in September 2023