The Master in General Management student team comes third in the annual ‘European Business Plan of the Year’ competition

In London, Vlerick students Kjell Clarysse, Rutger Callewier and Tom Tourné were awarded third place in the annual ‘European Business Plan of the Year’ competition. During this 20th anniversary edition, the three students – who are currently studying for a Master in General Management – took on students from the leading business schools in Europe. The Vlerick team put forward their business plan for Gorilla Seat, a new and trendy garden furniture concept which responds to the demand for weather-resistant, compact products. The competition was won by the team from Mannheim Business School, which developed an app for smart phones that helps break the ice in conversations.

Functional design at a good price

In the outdoor living segment, there are many products on the market that do not always combine design and functionality. In addition, few players are active in the middle of the market. The existing players are either producing cheap furniture with a loss of quality or highly-priced luxury furniture. Gorilla Seat is aimed at a large group of young urban professionals, offering them a perfect mix of functionality and design at a fair price. The new outside range also tackles the two biggest 'customer pains' when it comes to garden furniture, namely lack of space and bad weather. As regards marketing strategy, the emphasis lies on a combination of guerrilla marketing events and social media, while existing players tend to choose traditional marketing channels such as websites and catalogues.

Kjell Clarysse tells us his thoughts about the competition: For us, the competition was a really fantastic experience. During the pitch, I mainly emphasised the sticking points or ‘customer pains’, which our product resolves in an innovative way. And this approach seemed to go down well. In general, the feedback was that we presented the plan very well and very convincingly. The jury also expressed great confidence in us as a team. This means that the advice we were given beforehand by Vlerick professors Miguel Meuleman and Hans Crijns certainly had the desired effect.”

The story continues

As the business plan passed the test, they're not stopping at the theoretical side of things. The students plan to actually launch their product in 2014. Kjell Clarysse: “Sadly, a launch in 2013 no longer appeared feasible. The jury also asked us several very appropriate critical questions about this point. Garden furniture is a seasonal product, so we have to take the peak sales periods into account. In addition, we haven't got enough financing in place at this stage to allow the designer to start work. We are therefore looking ahead to 2014 full of enthusiasm for the launch of our product.

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