Karuna Prasad and Charlotte D’souza are both from India. They met each other as they joined the MBA Luxury Brand Management Jewelry & Cosmetics in September 2014 in Paris.
Last April, they participated in the final of The Mark, Business Plan Competition. Initiated by the International University of Monaco (IUM), the challenge aims to connect students, academic professionals and business leaders through entrepreneurial-based projects. It also promotes innovation and creates passionate business ideas by creating a technology driven luxury service.
Karuna and Charlotte have been rewarded the second prize for their project Milap, a store concept online focusing on luxury products dedicated to affluent and high net worth customers. Following that, they have been selected to compete in the « 20ème édition du Concours de Création d’Entreprise de la Principauté de Monaco » that will take place on November.
Karuna and Charlotte, you are both from India. Could you tell us something about your background before coming to INSEEC?
Karuna: After graduating from ESMOD, I realized that though I liked designing, I also wanted to understand the global environment of the business by acquiring specialized and high level skills in management, marketing, communication or brand development for example.
Charlotte: While I was doing my bachelors in commerce, I focused more on marketing rather than on finance, and I always knew this is what I saw myself doing. When I graduated, I got a job in a public relations firm, where I handled premium brands. That was my first step to getting to where I wanted to be.
You have been rewarded at The Mark Challenge 2015 in Monaco for your project: Milap. Can you tell us a little more?
For the competition, we had to come up with a luxury service that had a sustainability angle to it. And after a lot of brainstorming sessions, Milap Craftsmanship was born. Milap in Sanskrit means the coming together of 2 or more independent entities, and for us this is our clients and craftsmen. Milap is a luxury e-commerce platform, solely based on membership. Through this platform we would be offering our members exclusive limited edition collections that are specially crafted by the artisans who undertake utmost care and precision in crafting each product.
The artisans would be handpicked by ourselves, so as to ensure each and every collaborating craftsman meet the technical and precision standards set by our firm, in order to deliver nothing but the best to our members.
Initially, we would be collaborating with local craftspeople since we are the most familiar with the Indian market. However, we would be extending this collaboration with producers around the world. The main objective is to support the arts in its purest form. The e-commerce platform would be available solely to members in France. However we would be extending this service to members through Europe.
Our profits would be given back to the artisans and to charitable organizations supporting upcoming artisans and craftsmen.
For the long term, we also are looking at setting up our very own business and expanding into the travel sector, in order to provide the members with a complete cultural experience. When you buy a product, you don’t just buy the product, but you are buying an experience. Through the travel business, we would be offering our members the opportunity to experience the rich culture and technicalities that go into making the products. Additionally, we would also be offering our members the opportunity to customize the products.
In what way the MBA Luxury Brand Management Jewelry and Cosmetics offers all the necessary tools in creating that project?
When we began developing the project, we applied in fact what we learnt during our studies: the courses are very specialized and match perfectly with real work world as we were also led to deal with real case studies throughout the MBA programme. The assimilation of the information came together perfectly just like a puzzle.
Moreover, the learnings we received helped us to structure our ideas. They also gave us a multi-dimensional approach.
What is the next step?
First, after winning the Mark Challenge, we have been invited to participate in the « 20ème édition du Concours de Création d’Entreprise de la Principauté de Monaco » that will take place in November.
Our foremost priority is to complete our education at INSEEC thanks to our end-of-studies internship that will be a necessary step to upgrade our skills and to gain valuable work experience.
Nevertheless, we are both very passionate about the project as we spent a lot of time in developing it. So, we plan to make significant improvements and tweaks to our business plan. We are also focusing various financing ways in order to acquire funds so as our project become a reality.
Last, what advice would you give international students who wish to come and study in France at INSEEC ?
We think being in France, and specially in Paris while studying luxury makes one not only see but also be totally immersed in the culture and the country which gave birth to luxury brands . At INSEEC, we met students from all over the world with whom we learnt different customs and traditions. We also interacted a lot with the teachers who inspired us so much and helped us make decisions which would further our growth. Our advice is to take and make the most of those opportunities!