When Fernando Clariana 04MBA thinks back on his Goizueta Business School experience, one phrase comes to mind: life-changing.

Clariana graduated with a degree in business administration from Universidad Villanueva in his home country of Spain in 1998. Drawn by the pragmatic approach to learning in America, he initially pursued a postgraduate degree at UC San Diego. His experience there deepened his appreciation for the American learning style and solidified his belief in its effectiveness. This conviction led him to seek further academic enrichment, prompting his transition to Emory University’s One-Year MBA program.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the kind of environment where I would feel comfortable being in a country so different from the one I come from.’”

Clariana says Goizueta sparked his passion for entrepreneurship. It also gave him increased time management skills, international friendships, and two especially impactful pieces of advice.

The first was this: The secret sauce to a good presentation is knowing your audience. “That has helped me so much. The work doesn’t begin when you get in front of your audience. It starts with research and understanding beforehand,” Clariana says. “It isn’t a matter of, ‘Hey, this is my message, and I’ll share it with everyone.’ It’s more about others than oneself and adapting the message to people.”

That brings us to the second piece of advice: Hope is not a strategy. “I am an optimist by nature. But you either create your own world, for which you need to be active, or you end up living in a world created by others. You can’t just sit down and hope for things to go in the right direction. For good or for bad, life never comes as you had planned for it.”

Branching Out Into Glamping

Clariana has applied this guidance to his latest venture, Branch Out Glamping. The product is more than 10 years in the making, and it all started with a failure.

A few years ago, Clariana met a Spanish entrepreneur who launched glampinghub.com in 2013. The pioneering website and leading marketplace for glamping was literally ahead of its time. The term “glamping” (which combines the words “glamorous” and “camping” to refer to a style of camping that includes the amenities and comfort of a hotel) wasn’t introduced into the Oxford dictionary until 2016. Clariana and other investors joined the project. However, it didn’t scale as expected, and they sold it to an American investor in December 2022.

The venture faced a huge predicament. Since its inception, the demand for glamping had been skyrocketing (and is expected to triple over the next 10 years). But the supply was fragmented and significantly behind.

“Now, 10 years later, supply is still in its infancy,” Clariana says. “But we have learned a lot.”

Clariana is giving the glamping industry another try. This time, Branch Out Glamping is in the business of revenue sharing with property owners. He says they seek out partners who own ideal sites and ask to co-invest with them. And they are growing significantly. Branch Out will have more than 100 units deployed this spring. They expect 300 more to follow in the next 12 months throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Knowing Your Audience and Creating Memorable Experiences

A large part of their success, Clariana says, is knowing what their audience wants. When selecting partners, he holds them to certain criteria. These high standards are directly informed by 10 years’ worth of data and knowledge of what users are looking for. Criteria include location, types of units, access to certain activities, distance from a city, etc. When he finds the right partners, he makes sure to build trusting relationships with them.

“We’re giving people the opportunity to have an additional income and also deliver memorable experiences to users,” he says. “That’s really enriching.”

Creating memorable experiences is the beating heart behind everything Clariana does. He first became fascinated with glamping after having an “extraordinary” time doing so on an African safari. Later, he put together an immersive itinerary full of local gems for his Emory classmates who visited him in Spain. Now, he is helping to organize a trip to Spain for one of his partners in Texas, “so he can have a great time here in the same way he delivers memorable experiences for our users there.”

His ultimate goal is for the Branch Out Glamping name to be associated with unforgettable memories. “I would like people to recognize our brand in the same way they do a hotel of their preference,” he says. “They can know, if they stay with Branch Out Glamping, it will be a great experience.”

Sharing Your Skills

Through all his achievements and his pursuit of his mission, Clariana has never forgotten the transformative experience that was his Goizueta education. His gratitude shows up in the way he shares his penchant for planning with the school that taught him so much. Clariana organized a student exchange program with two prestigious Spanish universities so that the participating students could have enriching learning experiences similar to his own. It shows up in how he stays connected with the Goizueta community. Clariana says he always books his flights into the U.S. through Atlanta so he can meet up with friends, staff, and professors. Lastly, it shows in the way that his face lights up when he recalls memories from Goizueta all those years ago.

Goizueta changed the way I view life. It changed the way I view business.

Fernando Clariana

“Goizueta allowed me to get to know American culture with my classmates,” Clariana says. “That has now enabled me to take the lead of this company operating exclusively in North America. Despite graduating in 2004, Goizueta is still generating attractive returns 20 years later.”

Both a comprehensive and accelerated MBA, Goizueta’s One-Year MBA program is ideal for students continuing on their existing career paths who don’t need an internship to meet their goals. Learn more here.