#GOINGTOIEU

10/05/2024

For Antoine Brimbal, a lifelong passion for international relations brought him to IE University—and made him a successful entrepreneur.

Antoine Brimbal considers himself a product of globalization. His parents, from France and Serbia, met on a UN peacekeeping mission during the Yugoslav wars—which is why he’s always felt strongly connected with the theme of political conflict. He knew from a young age that he wanted to study international relations, driven by a desire to gain a comprehensive view of the field.

Antoine is now in his final year of the Bachelor in International Relations at IE University. Apart from excelling inside the classroom, he also dedicates his spare time to pursuing his own projects. In 2022, he founded the conflict media association, The Modern Insurgent, where he now acts as its Editor-in-Chief.

The Modern Insurgent provides raw, unbiased reporting on insurgencies around the globe. Antoine wants to present a fuller picture of conflict zones than he believes we see in mainstream media. To accomplish this, The Modern Insurgent is completely independent, allowing them to remain fair and impartial.

We spoke to Antoine to learn more about his studies and his successful entrepreneurial venture.

Why did you choose IE University for your studies?

When I began applying for universities, IE University stood out in every area. On top of the academic benefits—professors with exceptional experience and expertise, a diverse student body and thorough study plans—they also understand the job sector more than any other university in the world.

IE University is all about helping students achieve their potential and spearheading their entry into the professional world. Students here also seem to have more internships and relevant experiences to their name. This helps us immensely when seeking professional opportunities.

What inspired you to create The Modern Insurgent and what do you hope to achieve?

The Modern Insurgent is a conflict media organization that is first and foremost independent—we don’t get funding from corporations or other stakeholders—and which attempts to revive the ‘academic’ aspect of journalism by providing impartial, unbiased and raw reporting. It’s unique because it combines conflict journalism with academia, something that was heavily missing in the industry. 

On top of writing academic articles, becoming the world’s largest academic database on militancy and producing podcasts, we also send our correspondents and journalists around the world to film the activities of various insurgencies, notably by interviewing members of various militant organizations. This is then edited into documentaries which provide an unfiltered look into insurgency worldwide.

How have you applied your learnings from the Bachelor in International Relations to The Modern Insurgent?

The academic aspect of The Modern Insurgent finds its roots in my studies here at IE University, where I major in political science and conflict, peace and security. This has trained me to approach complex topics from an academic standpoint.

I’m also convinced that IE University’s entrepreneurial spirit helped me create The Modern Insurgent. I’ve never been in business classes, yet the university’s resources and emphasis on entrepreneurship enabled me to launch a company from scratch—with no prior contacts and prior funding. It also helped me to develop a business model that allows the company to be self-sufficient and, most importantly, independent!

How do you balance your academic commitments with managing The Modern Insurgent?

It’s not always easy, especially given that I also have internships and work for other news agencies. It becomes very difficult to juggle all of my endeavors sometimes but, as I always remind myself: studies above all! I prioritize my university work and spend all my spare time on The Modern Insurgent and my other responsibilities.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

I started The Modern Insurgent when I was 18 years old and it’s not easy to gain credibility in this sector at such a young age. But, as I continued developing the platform—entirely by myself—I focused on upscaling step by step. Barely two years later, I now manage a team of more than 40 people from around 20 different countries. I also have a few documentaries and similar projects under my belt, which have expanded my web of contacts and benefitted my quest within this industry.

Further, I was always told that journalism is extremely competitive; but from my experience within conflict journalism, reporters are very eager to help each other. The intensity of the topics, along with the fact that most reporters genuinely want to use their job as a way to show the reality on the ground, makes the community very helpful.

My challenges now are more technical and involve issues relating to team management, project-specific logistics and more. But to overcome any challenge, the key is to just keep going.

How would you advise others interested in starting their own ventures while studying?

Go for it! This is the best time to get started. While it’s true that we’re busy with our studies, we’ll be even busier when we have a job later on. IE University is also an incredible resource because, on top of the knowledge you acquire, you can leverage the resources, people and contacts available here to develop your venture.

Looking ahead, what do you hope to achieve with The Modern Insurgent?

I only see The Modern Insurgent developing faster and faster, both from an impact and a business perspective. As we produce more content, we’ll attract more viewership. On the other hand, what really matters is the influence of this viewership. We don’t want to produce content to merely obtain clicks, but rather to shed light on the realities of conflict, war, instability and crises.

At The Modern Insurgent, it’s our goal to make our audience understand why people around the world rebel and fight for a cause. Most importantly, our work is not about interpretation; it’s about information. Our reporting will always be neutral and impartial, leaving the interpretation to our viewers.