7 teams selected within 75 groups, 7 luxury business projects identified as the most inspiring and pioneering ideas from the ones submitted by 33 Business Schools, 7 pitches presented in front of an International jury. This is the wonderful experience that we lived in the fanciest city of the world, Monte Carlo, which hosted the Grand Final of “The Mark Challenge 2017”.

This was the 4th edition of the competition organized by the IUM University in Monaco, that gives the opportunity to students with an entrepreneurial spirit, to develop a business plan for a premium or luxury business project with a social impact dimension.

The Mark was the factor who drove us to dedicate last two months on a disruptive business idea that would fill a real gap in the market and create something never heard about, a brand-new project. This is how the idea of Estia was born.

“Looking at the world nowadays what we discovered is that it is rich of powerful traditions, think about the African and the Mexico Folklor Traditions, so different and so beautiful! In Estia, we really feel the energy of these cultures”, commented Alessandro Pincione.

Estia is an exclusive home collection platform that directly connects customers with local artisans to create home care accessories as real pieces of art.

“Our mission is inspiring our clients with unique hand-made products, while leading the way for world artisan’s heritage development.”, says Barbara Manni. “We don’t deliver products, we deliver stories is our slogan and with Estia our intention is indeed providing customers with unique products made with the finest raw material, that tell about the stories of the local artisans, their expertise, their traditions”.

Our product offer is based from one side, on “Limited Editions” crafted by dedicated artisans and from the other side, on fully “Bespoke” products, which are the result of the cooperation between local Artisans, Designers, Brand Ambassadors and Customers.

Estia won the first round of the competition with a business plan considered the best among 43 projects in ex-aequo with another team. The 5 jury Members, Professors of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs, investors and business angels, found Estia’s business plan very interesting and shared the following comments: “Clear concept and business idea, professional documents; an example for what to present”.

So, we could attend the Grand-Final and present in 7 minutes our dream to the jury and to professors and students of the University of Monaco. Moreover, our audience consisted of the members of the other 6 finalist teams: meeting them and sharing our ideas was one of the best parts of such an amazing experience.

We can still feel the adrenaline and the emotions during the pitch. “It is exciting to see an entire audience captured by the project you worked so hard on and being involved together with them in a fantastic journey. We are really honored we could live such a moment by representing MIP”, is the comment of Germana Anna Ambrosone.

The presentation was highly appreciated according to the jury’s comments as well as the ambitious Estia project. These are the reasons which let us step to the podium and be classified as third in the competition.

The winner team was Loox, a luxury reward program giving consumers an avenue to influence a brand’s CSR contribution through points earned proportional to luxury purchases. Innovative was also the project of the second classified team, Elysian, whose objective is giving a new meaning to the second-hand luxury market, connecting ultra-high net worth individuals who want to sell their luxury items to the audience willing to buy high-end products despite the lack of financial means.

What all these powerful business models have in common is the awareness that today customers want something more than a simple product, something that goes beyond. And this was also the reason behind Estia, which has a valuable goal. It is a human company from where cultural heritage will be preserved, social development will be enhanced and customers will finally live a different buying experience.

According to Felipe Aguilera “Local artisans, coming from Andean countries, from India or Morocco, do not have the education they need, designers come from a different social class. If someone of you come from one of these countries, and I do, you will easily understand that people live separated from each other, as if they come from a different human cluster. What about putting them together? Making them speak, letting them communicate? In Estia, we strongly believe that Synergy can only be created through Unity and this what we stand for.”