CARMINA BECH SEGARRA: PROFESSOR AND ENTREPRENEUR
By Thea Holtlund Jacobsen Carmina Bech Segarra moved from Barcelona to Chicago in 2011 with her husband and children, before moving to California in 2017. Besides being an adjunct professor at Cal Lutheran, she is a Financial Analyst Expert at Capital Cell – a crowdfunding platform for biotech and life science projects. Bech Segarra is no stranger to entrepreneurship, having founded, drifted and sold a company developing software to detect early stage causes of cardiovascular diseases back when she lived in Barcelona.
Before moving to Thousand Oaks, Bech Segarra was working full-time in banking with CaixaBank, Spain’s third-largest lender by market value. She started out in the real estate division, working as a Corporate Manager Director overseeing primarily evaluation and opportunity investments in Europe. Once the real estate market peaked in 2006, the bank decided to terminate the real estate positions, and Bech Segarra was moved to the credit and banking division. This position mainly dealt with credit analysis, where she analyzed financial statements of different corporations, determining whether they were eligible for credit.
Bech Segarra said passion is important when starting a business, but you also need to have a plan for what steps to take.
“The tricky part of this position was finding a balance between sales and risk management. The risk analysts are mainly stationed in headquarters, checking the numbers and avoiding risky projects, while the sales force is working more locally to encourage business,” Bech Segarra said. “Those years were great, I developed a lot as a professional.”
CaixaBank had a goal of giving back to the community through its Foundation, at least 50 percent of their profits.
“This was a great place to work, because you could see the benefits given back to the community. Through my work, we were able to build protected price houses for people with low income to be able to access affordable housing,” Bech Segarra said.
Through her work, Bech Segarra traveled to several places in Europe, including Paris on multiple occasions to meet with clients. While working in CaixaBank, Bech Segarra also balanced her duties with teaching part-time graduate courses on corporate finance and evaluation, and eventually started her own business.
“I came in contact with a medical director and an engineer within computer science and together we started talking about the need to develop a software to detect early stage causes of cardiovascular diseases. My partners developed this project in detail, while I was responsible for setting up the business and pitching to investors. This was absolutely amazing, and we had a great time drifting this company,” Bech Segarra said.
The three partners kept the company until 2018, when they sold it. Bech Segarra said they came to a point where they either had to really commit to taking the company to the next step, or sell it.
“When I moved to California, I needed to find a place where people in the community needed help with business or banking related questions. This is how I got in touch with Hub101, and met Mike Panesis. He was the one who introduced me to Cal Lutheran because I wanted to start teaching again,” Bech Segarra said. “The majority of professors have their main focus teaching on campus. I bring a different perspective because of my background in international business. ”
Bech Segarra teaching her BUS-391: Principles of Finance class.
Bech Segarra has been involved with Hub101 on several occasions, whether through referring friends, serving as a mentor or judging the New Venture Fair, and said she often sees a lot of passion in young entrepreneurs, which is very encouraging . However, when it comes to starting a business, Segarra said the most important thing to remember is to have a solid plan and consider who you are targeting before officially launching.
“Passion without a plan is nothing. You need consistency, and you need to consider the market. Doing the numbers is extremely important to know if the business idea is actually realistic,” Bech Segarra said.
In addition to her job at Cal Lutheran, Bech Segarra is currently part of the bio expert network Capital Cell, which was one of the first platforms in Barcelona focusing on crowdfunding. The network specializes in biotech and life science companies, connecting them with investors who are willing to invest in these developing companies which are often risky projects, making them unattractive clients for commercial banks. Functioning as a Financial Analyst Expert, Bech Segarra works with the companies on their business plans and pitches to investors and provides assessment to get funds from potential investors. Despite the company being based in Barcelona, they have clients from all over the world, primarily the United Kingdom and France.
“I started as an investor. I saw the potential in some of the companies, invested in them and then eventually became part of the team. I still remember the first investment I did, which was with a company working towards discovering degradable nanofiber for cancer patients. What I really liked about this company was how they focused primarily on treating cancer in kids, which is a group most big companies are interested in but not as their first priority since it is a smaller target, and you really need those companies to support them. This is also a way to reinvest socially because most of these projects are targeting what is called ‘orphan diseases’, which affect fewer people,” Bech Segarra said.
Bech Segarra said she decided to get involved with Hub101 so that she could share her knowledge of business and banking related expertise.
For people trying to work within entrepreneurship or grow their business, she believes Hub101 is a great platform that students should take advantage of. Bech Segarra said she often refers her friends and acquaintances to Hub101 because she believes it is a good spot for coworking and making connections.
“You get the best out of everyone because you feel like you are working in a team environment and you can get so much from others through sharing your experiences,” Bech Segarra said.