Entrepreneurship after TEMA? The Vinifera case
Published on 06/6/2016
Our TEMA programme aims to develop student creativity, their technological agility, their innovative capacities, and an entrepreneurial mind-set. Today’s businesses are looking for all of these qualities. Justin Charpentier, a current 3rd year TEMA student, is making use of all of them as he embarks on an entrepreneurial venture, launching a new ready-to-wear clothing brand, Vinifera. We talked to him about his career so far…
Have you always dreamed of being an entrepreneur?
I’ve dreamed of setting up my own company ever since I was a teenager. What I like most about it is that you have to use multiple skills, you work on every part of the firm!
Was your ambition to become an entrepreneur the reason why you chose to study at a Grande Ecole?
I chose TEMA, which specialises in new technology, because it encourages students to launch out and innovate. And before setting up my firm I was a member of different student societies, such as the students’ committee, of which I was president, and the Entrepreneurs Club; I have always liked “changing things.” I learnt enormously from working with these two societies, they gave me a foretaste of entrepreneurship.
How did the School help you to launch your project?
As soon as I launched the project I went to my professors to ask for advice, in both finance and marketing. Two months ago, I joined the NEOMA Business School incubator, which is a significant asset for our enterprise. It gives us access to invaluable assistance from the School’s partners. This is important when you have just got going; you are discovering a whole new world, so it’s better when you have support and guidance.
Could you describe Vinifera for us in a few words?
Vinifera is a men’s ready-to-wear clothing brand. Its mission is to provide everyday comfort with simple, elegant, authentic clothing. For its communication style, Vinifera takes inspiration from the world of wine, because of the family background of its two founders.
For our first collection, we took a fresh look at the polo shirt, and in particular the polo shirt worn under a jacket. We needed it to have a firm collar that holds its shape. We developed a process to strengthen the inside of the collar and prevent it creasing under the jacket.
How did you get the idea?
We usually wore shirts, but we were looking for something else, and in particular something more comfortable, made of a material that lets you breathe! Finally, we chose the polo shirt, with its stretchable pique knit that you can wear it all day long.
How is the project doing at the moment?
We are just beginning to sell our first polo shirts. We have launched a crowdfunding scheme to promote the brand and obtain our first customers. After the first month of the campaign, we have already overtaken our objective with 189 polo shirts sold all over France and even abroad, with one American client. These funds mean that we can develop our activity by canvasing professional retailers and launching our e-commerce site.
Is the School still supporting you?
With the help of the incubator we hope to expand our start-up company. We have offices in Reims and will be able to take on more staff in September.
What advice would you give to students who are hesitating to set up their own company?
It’s important to take the plunge and live for the moment. When you’re young and still a student, you can allow yourself to take the risk. Apart from the launch, the experience is very rewarding, you learn a lot about yourself every day and develop skills other than those acquired in class.
In addition, the region supports innovative, viable projects with welcome financial support when you launch the initiative. And the incubator partners are alongside you to help you develop your activity: you might as well make the most of it!
To follow the adventure: