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Alexander Borschow, SB ’06, MBA ’14

A conversation with Alexander Borschow, SB ’06, MBA ’14, on his journey from Puerto Rico to MIT undergraduate studying chemical biological engineering in Course 10B, then on to New York as a banker at BNP Paribas. On a trip in 2011 to northern Argentina, Alexander had a life-changing realization that the global food system was not sustainable. He returned to MIT Sloan for its strong program in sustainability. While at MIT Sloan, Alexander was president of the Food and Agriculture Club. After graduation, Alexander worked in the food industry at Eataly, where he gained a lot of experience with the food supply ecosystem. He is the co-founder of Semillero Partners, a San Juan, Puerto Rico-based growth stage investment fund focused on companies in food and beverage, food tech, and wellness industries. Sustainability is central to Alex and Semillero's investment approach, as is a commitment to the evolution of the companies they support. 

Alexander Borschow: When humans are actually eating plants, instead of growing plants to feed animals, you have much higher food and calorie conversion ratio. You're actually getting a nutrition director than the plants, as opposed to having a go through an animal. 

Christopher Reichert: Welcome to Sloanies Talking with Sloanies, a candid conversation with alumni and faculty about the MIT Sloan experience and how it influences what they're doing today. So what does it mean to be a Sloanie? Over the course of this podcast, you'll hear from guests who are making a difference in their community, including our own very important one here at Sloan. 

Hi, I'm your host, Christopher Reichert, and welcome to Sloanies Talking with Sloanies. My guest today is Alex Borschow, a graduate of MIT Sloan's MBA program in 2014. Welcome, Alex. 

Alexander Borschow: Thanks for having me, Chris. Great to be here. 

Christopher Reichert: Great to have you. Before we begin our conversation, let me give our listeners some background. Alex is a managing partner at Semillero Partners, a San Juan, Puerto Rico-based growth stage investment fund focused on companies in food and beverage, food tech, and wellness industries. Sustainability is central to Alex and Semillero's investment approach, as is a commitment to the evolution of the companies they support. Semillero began by investing a $25 million first fund in 17 companies, distributing somewhere between a quarter million and 5 million to those organizations. And we'll learn a bit about those companies in their second fund.  

Semillero's portfolio now includes clients like Imperfect Foods, Farmer's Fridge, and Seal the Seasons. It's a North Carolina company that partners with farmers to freeze local produce, and where, of course, Alexander sits on the board naturally. He was previously the Director of Finance for Eataly in New York, which is an experience to be had for all things Italian, and they're in Chicago now, and Boston and a few other places as well. It's really quite an experience.  

Earlier in his career, Alex rose to become the youngest director in the history of BNP Paribas New York office with responsibility over equity, derivatives, flow sales to hedge funds, which I have no idea what that means, but boy, it sounds complex and, and dare I say lucrative! 

Alexander Borschow: It's a small esoteric world. 

Christopher Reichert: Oh, let's see. So where to begin? Did I miss anything in your background that you want to include? 

Alexander Borschow: No, that was great. And I'm sitting here in our offices in San Juan and actually grew up here, so I'm from Puerto Rico and it's nice to be here again. 

Christopher Reichert: Alright, so let's see. Tell us about, maybe let's start with Semillero and the meaning of the word and how it ties into your vision. 

Alexander Borschow: Yes. So Semillero is, it's a good thing you asked that, it actually has a couple meanings and one Semillero can be used as someone who plants seeds, right? But it traditionally is known to mean a greenhouse or somewhere that is incubator of seedlings, right? And when we set out to launch Semillero back in 2015, that very much was part of the philosophy and the mission is we are really going to be incubating small companies, small emerging companies. And with our focus on sustainable food, beverage, and food tech it seemed very appropriate that being here in Puerto Rico we used and adopted the name Semillero Partners to kind of embody that philosophy. 

Christopher Reichert: So how do you find being based in Puerto Rico for finding, I mean, you work with a North Carolina company and probably others. So how is it being on an island and having those sort of interactions? 

Alexander Borschow: Yes, before I moved back here in 2015, I had been living in New York and between New York and Boston for 14 years. So I did my undergrad at MIT in chemical biological engineering, then spent six years in New York working in the investment banking world, at BNP Paribas, and then went back to Sloan to my MBA in 2012–2014. Then from Boston, went back to New York to Eataly. So, 14 years in the U.S. I really met a lot of people, started developing a network of investors, and my focus on food and sustainability didn't really come until my kind of last year of finance and my time at Sloan and after Sloan. But during that time, and at Sloan, I was the president of the Food and Agriculture Club at MIT for two years, and I organized hackathons and demo days, networking events with similar clubs at Tufts, at Harvard, at Brandeis and BU, Bentley. 

And that really gave me exposure to a whole network of entrepreneurs as well as investors other angels, VCs. And I started investing my money as an angel investor writing relatively small checks compared to the one they are right now. But it also taught me about all the ways that companies can fail. I learned, you know, they were relatively expensive lessons for me at the time, but very valuable lessons and also got me into the network of other investors in the space, which started connecting me with interesting opportunities. For example, you mentioned Imperfect Foods. We I first started looking at Imperfect Foods in 2015 when they were pre-revenue they were just getting started. And I wrote an angel check in the pre-revenue round, wrote an investment memo, and there was an incredible journey, and they were acquired by Misfit's Market last year. So the network of opportunities and the pipeline that I was cultivating in during my time in the U.S. actually played very importantly in our pipeline development for Semillero. We started deploying capital, not just in Puerto Rico, but also in U.S. companies. We invested in a company in Israel, a food tech company in Israel. We invested in the leading cloud restaurant company in Latin America based in Colombia. And now we've also invested in companies in Canada. 

Christopher Reichert: So you're, I guess being in San Juan, you're actually well placed for the South American market as well. And Peru is growing in that area as well, right? 

Alexander Borschow: Absolutely, Peru is an incredible food and agriculture producer, Ecuador as well. We are interesting in that we have this bicultural geography where you have very much being part of the U.S. but having the Latin culture and the language. We are an interesting link between Latin America, South America, and the U.S. emerging brands and growing brands who want to tap into the large and growing and increasingly affluent Latin demographic of the U.S. See, Puerto Rico is an interesting kind of hop over waypoint transition point from which to launch their companies and also do tests and see if there's a consumer adoption and traction or launching into the U.S. 

Christopher Reichert: So I have two questions. One is about the running of your business. So the fundraising side and related to that is how you manage and have an oversight over your investments from a management perspective, even as you kind of choose the types of things you want to get into the sustainability businesses and that sort of thing. So let's first talk about Semillero Partners and how you are raising funds for rounds and how you then choose your portfolio companies. 

Alexander Borschow: So fundraising, typically, we first leverage our personal and business connections and network. And that means friends, family business connections. Being in Puerto Rico, it's a smaller community, right? And we really look to those connections first as we raise our first fund. And 98% of the capital fund, one was raised from Puerto Rican individuals, families, corporations as well as nonprofits and institutional investors, insurance companies and retirement funds. And we needed to make sure that we could prove the concept right, and generate a) find great companies to invest in b) actually generate pre-value in those investments. And then the third very critical part of that is also exit those investments, right? Can it create the value you have to exit that investment? And that speaks to the second part of your question, which is about managing those investments and how active are you? 

And that really depends on the company, the stage they're at, the level of sophistication of the entrepreneurs and the management team. And we try to be continuously improved our process to be really clear from the get go, what our expectations are, identify where their key gaps are. If we're going to be a lead investor, we're going to have a seat on the board that's going to be a more engaged role than we are a very small minority investor without a seat in the board. Imperfect Food is a great example. You know, when I wrote an angel check 2015, before they started even generating revenue, I was in communications with the founders pretty rarely by the time they'd raised, you know a $40 million growth round, right a Series B and then a Series C, they'd grown to a couple hundred million revenue. And it was a very different company by then, the founders one of them was no longer involved in the operations we saw on board, and the new management team, new investors had taken over kind of that institutional investor role and activity. 

So I think there's a natural evolution in progression of in companies that are growing and successful where earlier investors, institutional investors and funds like ourselves kind of fall off the board and allow, give, make room for new investors to come in and take their kind of expertise and take the company to the next stage. And it's really critical for us to be really transparent and honest about what our expectations are and making sure we're on the same page with the founders and that we're investing in. So we're not high-volume investors. We don't invest in 50 companies per fund. We invest in 15 to maybe 17 companies per fund, maybe 20. And that means we're taking board seats on half the companies we invest in. And if you're taking board seats on eight companies per fund, you know, I'm sitting on six boards right now actively and there's two others that I'm less active on. That's a lot of board work. So I have to be honest with not only myself, but also with the potential partners and the entrepreneurs I'm invested in what my availability and bandwidth is to be an active, engaged, and committed partner. And we do that really proactively before we invest to make sure that there's aligned interest and, and common understanding of what that's going to look like. 

Christopher Reichert: Interesting. You mentioned that you were an undergraduate at MIT, what was your field of study there? 

Alexander Borschow: My undergraduate degree was in chemical biological engineering, Course 10B. 

Christopher Reichert: 10B. Excellent. Very MIT, I love it. And so how did you transition into sort of a passion investing in agriculture? 

Alexander Borschow: Yes, so growing up Puerto Rico, I'm grateful that my parents imbued with us in a great passion, respect, and appreciation for nature. We were always on weekends exploring the islands, being it in the rainforest or the beaches, snorkeling exploring the Caribbean, going to see natural, beautiful places and that gave me a great appreciation for conservation and environmentalism. As I grew, and this really came to light more in my time when I was at BNP (Paribas). Well, maybe I should transition and say, how did I get into finance in the first place? So going from chemical, biological engineering to investment banking finance is not always a natural transition. 

The truth is, I had no idea what finance was all about when I was a senior and I wanted to stay on it for next year and get my master's because it sounded like more fun than going to the workplace. And I could play another year of varsity volleyball. And my parents said that that was not an option. So I looked to my classmates and friends, and they all were applying for jobs, either consulting or finance. I applied for those jobs as well. I went through the interview process, read some books, and I got an interview at BNP (Paribas), a second-round interview at BNP (Paribas), what I learned was that there's this full world of sales and trading, and sales and finance. It requires a technical knowledge and understanding, but also an ability to talk to and connect with people where you're going to build relationships based on mutual respects, trust, and honesty. 

And that appealed to me the way I thought about I wasn't interested in trying to make a quick buck on a quick sale. I was more interested in really talking with interesting, intelligent people and finding creative solutions that benefited not only clients, but the bank and, and the sales team I worked for. So that was a really seminal and a professional development phase, and had a really great mentor who taught me of the importance of building relationships. And it was on a trip in 2011 to northern Argentina. I was in the Reserva Iberá beautiful wetland reserve, and I was talking to the general manager of this Ecolodge about, you know, asking him, what are some of the challenges? One of the biggest challenges you guys face. You seem to have an incredible, beautiful pristine nature as we here. 

And he said that the biggest threats to their efforts of conservation and keeping it beautiful was agriculture and food. And I was taken aback. I didn't know about this. So he explained how there was a two-pronged attack on the wetlands. One is they were looking to drain wetlands to create ranch and grazing lands for cattle because of the growing demand for beef. And to feed that cattle, they needed to cut down the forest to plant soy because soy was a cheaper, faster growing crop for protein for animal beef. So those were, at the time, you know earth shattering realizations for me that this global food system was really not sustainable. And that's when I chose to apply to Sloan, because Sloan, MIT Sloan has a really strong program in sustainability, and I decided I wanted to do this certificate in sustainability with a focus on food and food systems. So that was kind of the beginning of my transition from finance to sustainability of food. And having that kind of background in a solid foundation in engineering was helpful because honestly, if you can survive chemical engineering at MIT, everything else is much easier. 

Christopher Reichert: Yes, I've heard, well, that's probably true for the undergraduate experience at MIT, right? In general. So then you went to Eataly. So back to New York to Eataly. 

Alexander Borschow: Yes, Eataly. It was a, you know what I realized I wanted to work with innovative, disruptive companies in the food space. And I realized that I didn't have any experience actually working at a food company. So Eataly was an incredible opportunity because it gave me exposure from a finance role not only just to retail, like, you know, Eataly has grocery, right, but Eataly also has food service, which the restaurants and Eataly had launched their e-commerce platform. So in this one role, I got to look at three different business lines within the food industry, retail food service and e-commerce. And being in the role of a director of finance and was the first director of finance at Eataly was creating financial models and growth plans and budgets for each department in each division from monthly, quarterly, annual budgets, reporting, creating a consolidated reporting across those three business lines. 

Whereas they were separate before, it was an incredible experience to understand how the unique economics and financial models worked for those three lines. And when you look at the retail side on a weekly basis, they were evaluating 8, 10, 12 new brands that were coming to them. And I started looking and learning, okay, what are the metrics? What are the KPIs that we need to evaluate to determine whether this new product is a winner and it deserves more shelf space, a permanent spot, or, you know, it just doesn't meet those metrics that we need. Understanding where it's located on the shelf, what kind of promotional schedules are appropriate and effective. And that was a really critical experience in, and I carried forward to my time now, evaluating brands for investing in them. 

Christopher Reichert: Interesting. Were you there when they were expanding to the different cities and did that add a new wrinkle? 

Alexander Borschow: Yes, very much so. That's a great point. You know, I joined in 2014 and they had just opened Chicago and their first location in the U.S. was on 23rd and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. And they had just, it was such a smashing success that they thought they could just replicate that success by opening in a second city. And there was a lot of demand for having Eataly as an anchor tenant in large malls locations, because they attract a lot of foot traffic and people, Chicago is a very different city from New York. It has different tourists and foot traffic and weather patterns. Winters in Chicago are very different winter than New York, and it doesn't have the same kind of subway accessibility, transportation. So opening Chicago was an eye-opening experience for Eataly senior management, and we learned a lot from that. 

And those learnings went into adjusting the due diligence and plans for opening additional stores in other cities. That also was a very important experience that I carried for where just because you were successful in one region doesn't mean you can just replicate that success in another region. You can’t just assume that you're going to get the same, you know, unit velocities, same consumer reaction. The United States is not a homogeneous country. It's a very heterogeneous regional, local preference country. And that was important also thinking about when we look at companies was, “oh yes, we got this great velocities and traction in sales in the Northeast we're going to replicate them Southeast and we're going to project in the Midwest, North Atlantic, Pacific Northwest.” And the truth is, they don't behave the same in those regions. And that's been something I've never forgotten. As we looked at companies that are expanding in retail. 

Christopher Reichert: This is something you bring to organizations like Imperfect Foods or Seal the Seasons as they're selling you their growth plans? 

Alexander Borschow: Yes, actually Seal the Seasons is a great example because Seal the Seasons is built on the premise that people love local products, local fruit, unless you get it in the summer or when it's actually harvest season, you only get it once a year. Well, Seal the Seasons saw that farmers actually are producing a lot more that could be sold at retail. How about we take all that fruit that maybe isn't right, it can't be sold at retail and process it for frozen. And what they saw was that people in North Carolina, they love seeing North Carolina blueberries on the package. People in Massachusetts, they love seeing Massachusetts blueberries. They didn't travel a thousand miles, Seal the Seasons created the first national brand of local produce. And that concept very much played into the experience I had at Eataly, which is need to highlight local in each region. That means telling the story of where it came from. Eataly did a great job telling the story of where the food came from, where it was produced, who the farmer was, why it was unique, why it was special, and Seal the Seasons has carried that torch forward and then a great job of marketing that. 

Christopher Reichert: Yes, I guess in my experience with Eataly, it is one of those things where you walk in and you feel like, well, I can't be in Florence, but this is going to be as close as I can get right now. 

Alexander Borschow: Absolutely. 

Christopher Reichert: Your focus is on sustainability. And you talked earlier about one of the biggest threats to that Eco lodge and just generally is the kind of industrial food system. How do you kind of crack that? Because that really kind of took hold, I guess, in the 20th century, as far as I can tell. So how do we kind of roll that back and make it sustainable, but also scalable because there are a lot of people to feed? 

Alexander Borschow: That's the trillion-dollar question. And I think what we've seen over the last decade is several different approaches to addressing that challenge. Number one, we're all aware of the huge growth in interest from consumers in plant-based alternatives. Plant-Based alternatives play a multi-dimensional role in sustainability because, number one, when humans are actually eating plants, instead of growing plants to eat animals, you have much higher food and calorie conversion ratio. You're actually getting the nutrition directly from the plants as opposed to having a go through an animal like a cow, which has to chew it and digest it and bring the muscle. And it's not an efficient process, neither it is for chickens or pigs. And that doesn't touch the environmental footprint of the fact that that cow produces a lot of wastes methane, right? And requires millions on millions of acres of feed and water to produce one pound of beef. 

Recently, there's been a pushback and along the plant-based alternatives, because consumers really want something that tastes good and is better for them. Some of the innovations and plant-based alternatives, which just Beyond Meat, they were getting closer on tastes, but they weren't really meeting the kind of the requirement and the demand of the tumors on nutrition and health. That's where plant-based, full plant-based foods are a better and healthier option. And we've been investing in companies like the Jack Fruit Company, right, that is using full plants, minimally processed compared to a highly processed full meat burger and a Beyond Meat burger. So I think that's one area that we're seeing a lot of interest around sustainability. It really comes from okay, we know that eating massive amounts of industrially produced animal protein and animal products, it's not sustainable from a planetary health perspective. 

And it's not sustainable from a human health perspective. The United States, for example, in the last century as industrial agriculture in food has grown, has also become one of the least healthy countries, huge increases in rates of diabetes, heart disease, cancers, and a lot of that goes to really unhealthy diets, high in processed foods, be that sugars or refined carbs, highly processed meats, all that goes to sustainability for people and the planet. And that's really our philosophy and our approach. It's better for people and the planet, that we can do both, we don't have to sacrifice one or the other. Sustainability clean label, right? Thinking about products that have clean ingredients, not highly processed is a big interest area for us. Number two, the whole plant-based foods, not trying to make it exactly look like or taste like a burger, but let it be delicious, nutritious, and cravable on its own. Because, there's so many products, so many plant-based foods that are incredibly delicious and we like to highlight those. For example, we are investors in Clover Food Lab based in Boston, which you probably are aware, 

Christopher Reichert: And it's Sloan-founded. 

Alexander Borschow: They make incredibly cravable, delicious plant forward foods, vegetarian foods, and over 85% of their consumers are now vegetarians. And that's a great example of a company that's making something nutritious, clean, and healthy and plant-based so that people love. So that's another area of interests are. So I think from a sustainability standpoint, the entire planet is looking for, you mentioned about we need to feed people, right? Well, it's actually a much more efficient process if you can feed people what has grown, be it plants, as opposed to having to then grow the plants to feed the cows and the chickens and the pigs to then grow them, slaughter them, process them, move them to people.  

I think another huge area of opportunity and growth is actually cultivated meat. And I think over the next decade you're going to see, you already had several products approved in the U.S. of the FDA and Singapore was the first regulatory framework market that approved cultivated meat items. 

And as the, it's the same technology that has been developed for the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for the last couple decades. It's now being applied for production of clean, sustainable animal protein, right? And the economies of scale that are going to be enjoyed from the more efficient scale of production, it's going to make it cost parity with what is effectively a subsidized, industrially produced animal protein. And it's not going to be produced with any hormones or antibiotics. It's going to be a much cleaner option as well. And I think that over the next decade to two decades, you're going to see that become, you know, a significant percentage of the meal on the market. 

Christopher Reichert: I do joke with my vegetarian daughter that when she looks at my hamburger and then she kind of turns up her nose, I say, well, you did murder that broccoli, I joke, of course.  

Was when you were at Sloan, was that still a food truck or did it have a fixed location? 

Alexander Borschow: Yes, so when I first started Sloan in the fall of 2012, they still had just food trucks. And during my time there I connected with Ayr, the founder and they were just planning on opening their first commissary kitchen in, it was the fall of 2013, and we actually did a tour of the commissary kitchen once they opened it. And then after that they were able to open the first regional brick and mortar right in Kendall Square. 

Christopher Reichert: That's right. Yes, and they've expanded quite a bit since then.  

So thinking about Sloan, I mean, you came across campus. What was it like coming back to campus and being on the east side? 

Alexander Borschow: I didn't really spend that much time on the east side of campus at that part of campus when I was an undergrad. I did take a couple of classes the second semester of my senior year once I'd already accepted an offer at BNP Paribas because I figured, hey, I'm going to this finance world. I might as well take a couple classes to learn about it. At the time, I remember interacting in some of these group exercises and problem sets with MBA students, and they all seemed very mature and worldly and experienced. And I was this, you know, 20, 21-year-old undergrad and in retrospect, like going back and thinking about that experience now Sloan is such an incredible melting pot, internationally diverse student body. Not that my undergrad wasn't diverse, but Sloan was another level of diversity. 

And I was a much more mature and open and curious learner when I was at Sloan, where I was more interested in learning from my classmates than from the professors. And that was a big difference. The Socratic method, that the way that learning happened at Sloan, was really incredible because I learned more from the experiences and perspectives of my classmates and how diverse they were and those discussions. And I learned from just listening to a lecture from a professor and that's a very different experience from undergrad. 

Christopher Reichert: So you went to Sloan, you mentioned, because it had, has a strong sustainability curriculum. Is there any particular class or professor that you or experienced there that you remember that stays with you? 

Alexander Borschow: Yes. So number one of the greatest professors in my opinion I learned a lot from was Professor Sterman. John Sterman, he was the faculty advisor for the Sustainability Initiative. Everybody goes to s Sloan knows about the Beer Game, but you know what's incredible? He inspired me in a lot of ways. And number one is he admitted openly, vulnerably, that he actually strongly dislikes speaking in public. He is uncomfortable speaking in public. And he does it anyway, and he pushes past his discomfort, his fear because he knows that the message that he is communicating is so important to imbue this next generation of leaders. We're going to change the world, to have them understand how critical sustainability was and incorporate into the thinking systems design. So I took from Systems Design course and understanding how systems work and interact, as we call it people talk about side effects. 

There's also something the side effects, right? There's effects, there's cause and effects, and there's reinforcing loops and that framework and that whole systems that design thinking and sustainability was really life-changing in how I approached the world. And, and it also, the other part that inspired me, was embracing things that are uncomfortable. And I've taken that as a philosophy where I choose not to feel uncomfortable. I take it as a challenge. So there's a stoic philosophy of the obstacles the way, and Ryan Holiday spokes about it, and it's a great book by Michael Easter called The Comfort Crisis. We can access food, whatever you want, we can access shelter, warm temperature, control, distraction, entertainment. And we have moved so far away from being really uncomfortable physically, mentally that it's a detriment to making us a more in touch capable individuals and society. 

So I think that Professor Sterman, I remember when he communicated that and shared that in our, I think it was about a lab class or leadership lab class about, “Hey, I don't like speaking public. It makes you really uncomfortable, but I push through and I do it because I know how important this message is.” And the other part I think I took away from Leadership Lab, L-Lab in particular, was also the practice of learning how to listen. Leaders today, and I know we're on a podcast that we're speaking with each other, but I hope that everybody who was listening, is listening actively and curiously and openly. I did not come from a world or a way of communicating where I was sitting there just listening and being open and curious and just listening to another person. 

I was always preparing a response. I was always thinking and already formulating a response in my head. And by that point, I had stopped listening, I wasn't always curious and actually genuinely interested in hearing why that person's respected. I was already preparing to refute their position and preparing an assert, the Leadership Lab training on active listening. It's something that I've never forgotten. I take it every single day and I catch myself, train myself to catch myself when I start preparing response, Nope. Drop that, go back to just curious, open, okay, I'm going to really try to understand this person's point of view because I'm genuinely interested in coming to not to be right, but to find the best answer. Right. Come to a best answer, not to be right. 

Christopher Reichert: Yes. One of the things I love about doing this podcast is that in some ways I'm sick of hearing my own voice and my own thoughts, so I really want to hear what other people have to say about their journey. And so you notice, I like to listen more.  

So what about a do-over, is there a class that you wish you had taken that you hadn't taken at Sloan? 

Alexander Borschow: I would say, you know, there's a lot of a lot of people love G Labs, right? So G-Lab, all the lab classes at Sloan are awesome. And I took a lot of lab classes at MIT as an undergrad that are very different. The Labs at Sloan are, I learned a lot more because it was working with people and teams, and it was more about learning to work with people than it was about doing an experiment. I would say I would've liked to take actually more classes around communication, leadership, communication. I would've liked to take more classes around negotiation, because negotiation is really about more effective communication. And then G-Lab would've been fun and just subjectively would've been fun to travel internationally, experience in different culture, businesses in a different culture. Those are the things I'd say, that I would've loved to have done, but can't take all the lab classes, you have to choose. 

Christopher Reichert: Even in two years. Yes, there's a lot to fit in. Right? 

Do you have a definition of success for yourself? 

Alexander Borschow: That's a great question. Part of my learning and continuously growing as a leader, as a manager, as a person, as an investor, involves, for me, shift for me was instead of looking for an end point, a goal that I wanted to achieve, I really shifted to falling in love with the process. And that process is continuous and it's continuously working on myself. There can be milestones along the way that are kind of a way to keep score, make sure you're going in the right direction. And I think from a professional standpoint, or one of those milestones that I'm doing things the right way and headed in the right direction, is that the brand, be it Semillero or the work that I'm doing with companies grows to the point where we are recognized as genuine, trusted partners, where entrepreneurs want to work with us much more than the capital, the check that they get. They want to work with us because we're true partners that understand and treat them as people. We're mission aligned in that respect. So, I think that's where I think the greatest leaders, people want to work with them for free, and they'll do anything to work with a great leader because they're inspired. They want to be led. And I think that would be my definition of success, that I can be in that same breath and that would be good for me. 

Christopher Reichert: That's great. That's great. And so any thoughts for prospective Sloanies, who might be considering going to either business school or Sloan in particular? 

Alexander Borschow: I would say that Sloan is different, and I would, I recommend going to visit and spending time with some students because it's not about finding an adventure to go on every weekend trip. You're going to find that the people there are a little more down to earth in my experience, they're incredibly curious, entrepreneurial, humble and really fascinating. I'd say Sloan is a community that attracts and encourages open, curious, humble people that are really amazing to be with and learn from and have conversations with. And it's a great place to discover together more about yourself and other people, things that are attractive, interesting, exciting for you. You don't have to know what you want to do beforehand. I would say it's an incredibly fertile and safe place to discover and learn and grow as a person with other really amazing people. 

Christopher Reichert: It's great. And what's next for Semillero? You've done two rounds. Are you working on a third? Are you still digesting the second round? 

Alexander Borschow: It's a great question actually. And the I don't know when this podcast will be published, but we're actually in the final stages of a merger with another venture capital fund, which should be concluded and finalized the next couple weeks. And I'm very excited about that next phase. So bringing on two really experienced partners in the food and beverage space, personal care, beauty, wellness, and mental health. And we're really excited. I've worked with them previously for five years across three different investments. We've co-invested in companies together, been on the board of companies together, and that's the next phase, next chapter for Semillero, and I'm very excited for that. 

Christopher Reichert: Excellent. Well, on that note, thank you to Alex Borschow, class of 2014, for joining us on this episode of Sloanies Talking with Sloanies

Alexander Borschow: Thank you, Chris. It's been a pleasure, 

Christopher Reichert: And I'm very jealous that you're, you could go to the beach now! 

Alexander Borschow: I'm not going to lie. I did spend an amazing hour and a half surfing this morning, and it was gorgeous. 

Christopher Reichert: Sloanies Talking with Sloanies is produced by the Office of External Relations at MIT Sloan School of Management. You can subscribe to this podcast by visiting our website,, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts. Support for this podcast comes in part from the Sloan Annual Fund, which provides essential flexible funding to ensure that our community can pursue excellence. Make your gift today by visiting giving