“It was in the beginning of April when we received a usual Thursday Email with all the information about events, speaker series and competitions that were about to happen in our Master in Management Program. This email though was somewhat special as it proclaimed the Net Impact Weekend which was supposed to be organized in the end of April by the IE Net Impact Club together with iWeekend. From the get-go, this event caught our attention as both of us had been wanting to pursue our entrepreneurial aspirations after the completion of the Masters. Moreover we shared a common aspect as we had won IE´s entrepreneurship challenges in India and Colombia in the past.”
Aman is an engineer and was working in B2B sales for an MNC in India. It was during that time that he conceived the idea of creating a socially responsible corporate gifting company which ultimately laid the foundation for the idea of Elements – the entry ticket for Net Impact weekend. On the other hand, Gustavo was working as a B2B marketing coordinator for an MNC in Colombia. Upon listening to the idea of Elements, Gustavo believed that he could contribute to its development and thus, the team was formed.
“From the start, the event sounded very promising as it was bringing together socially and environmentally responsible business ideas at a common forum, giving them the opportunity to compete against one another. In addition, it also promised to provide the finalists with an opportunity to work with mentors and specialists from the social and environmental fields. Interestingly, the event was not only open to IE students but also invited entries from outside which made everything even more competitive and exciting.”
Elements seemed to be a perfect entry for this competition as its core business is to bridge the gap between corporate companies and artisans in India keeping in mind companies that are trying to communicate their values through corporate gifts on one hand and on the other hand rural artisans who are extremely skilled custodians of great Indian art forms. The social approach of Elements is to improve the living standard of these artisans by providing them employment while the business approach is to provide the corporates with these exclusive gifts which will not only communicate uniqueness but also portray them as socially and environmentally responsible organizations in front of their clients.
“Our idea went through 3 rounds of screening before entering the finals. At every stage, we tried to incorporate valuable suggestions from different judges to improve upon our idea. Gustavo´s marketing expertise brought in fresh perspectives in building the business plan. Finally our pitch was highly appreciated in the last screening round in which participants from outside chose to join our team as we advanced to the finals. We were lucky to get 1 person each from Japan, Mexico and Colombia. All of these being IE students brought in great ideas from their regions and Elements’ approach became more appealing step by step. Lastly and most importantly we got 2 full days of guidance from mentors who had already proven themselves in the field of social entrepreneurship. These people had an extremely professional approach and immense experience which together helped us to better understand the stakeholders in our business and expand its social and economic impact. A lot of this improvement was also attributable to the concepts we have learnt in our classes. The feedback from our Communications and Marketing professors helped us to structure and communicate our business idea effectively.”
Finally came the presentation day – the time to deliver their idea to the judges. The panel of judges was extremely qualified and consisted of investors, academicians and industrialists. In the end, Elements was adjudged as 2nd runners up but not without great words of appreciation from the judges, one of whom particularly encouraged the idea and asked to stay in contact for further development.
“Overall the experience of the Net Impact weekend was very enriching for us and it has definitely helped us to take a leap further into achieving our aim of being entrepreneurs. Moreover, it gave us a platform to apply the knowledge acquired during class into a practical work environment. We thank IE and the Net Impact Weekend team for the wonderful organization and hope to be a part of many more such events.”