Wesley Pereira graduated from the Full-Time MBA in 2012. Since then, he has gone on to co-found Vênoor Living, a luxury brand specialising in furniture created and developed sustainably. Entrepreneurship is core to the Full-Time MBA at Imperial and students have an opportunity to develop their skills on the Entrepreneurial Journey core module. In this Q&A, Wesley answers questions on Vênoor Living and shares how the MBA helped him to achieve his entrepreneurship goals.
About Vênoor Living
Tell me about Vênoor Living
Vênoor Living is an online home living store, specialising in exquisitely designed furniture with sustainable origins. The business creates the highest quality, on-trend furniture that is both sustainable and affordable. We have full control over the entire design, development and delivery of our products to ensure the very best furniture is made available to our customers.
Our brand was formed to challenge the nature of consumerism and give customers the option to make a real lifestyle choice when purchasing our products. A Vênoor Living product is much more than a piece of furniture, it is a component in a sustainable process that gives back to the environment and people that create it.
Vênoor Living has a focus on sustainability. Tell me more about that.
The promotion of a sustainable lifestyle is at the very heart of the brand and what I aspired to create in a business. As well as ensuring that the design and manufacturing process has a minimal carbon foot-print, we also give back directly to the areas in India where a significant percentage of our materials are sourced and our furniture is created.
We re-plant trees strategically, in areas such as the Rajasthan Thar Desert in India, where de-forestation and drought has ruined the livelihood and growth potential of local communities. Our strategic re-plantation uses ‘pioneer’ species that have been engineered to withstand the harshest growing conditions. The process of planting the trees and the produce that comes from them ensures work and cultivation opportunities for the local communities.
Through creating a sustainable eco-system at the heart of the business we can be part of every single aspect of our product’s creation and the impact it has on the local communities involved. There is something greatly satisfying, from a business and ethical point of view, in seeing how our online sales influence sustainable development. In a nutshell, the sustainable initiative is the driving force behind creating a modern and socially responsible business model.
About the Full-Time MBA
How did studying the Full-Time MBA at Imperial help you achieve Vênoor Living?
One of the best aspects of the Imperial Full-Time MBA is its unique focus on entrepreneurship. The reputation of Imperial attracts a wealth of talent from all backgrounds, ensuring that you have fantastic opportunities to collaborate with exceptional talent across industry. The Full-Time MBA is structured in such a way that no matter what background you came from, you could gain an in-depth understanding of the core elements required to begin an entrepreneurial venture.
Describe the network on your Full-Time MBA.
One of the highlights of the Imperial MBA is the opportunity to meet a variety of talented, like-minded individuals. The MBA provides aspiring entrepreneurs with a strong network of connections that are essential when starting your own business. These connections and the strength of the Imperial MBA brand proved to be invaluable when establishing my own creditability with potential business partners and collaborators as well as securing meetings. I am a strong believer that those within your network are invaluable to your success as an entrepreneur and the connections I gained through the MBA have illustrated this.
About the Entrepreneurial Journey
What was your experience on the Entrepreneurial Journey on the Full-Time MBA?
Imperial College Business School attracts the very best innovators with a thirst for entrepreneurship. My Entrepreneurial Journey was shaped by how much I could learn from the other students in my cohort. It had always been an ambition of mine to establish a business where sustainability was the core focus. My time on the Imperial MBA allowed me to develop upon this idea and create the building blocks for Vênoor Living.
Whilst on the MBA Entrepreneurial Journey, I came up with the idea of Future Trees – a project to start an avocado plantation in Uganda and sell carbon credits along with extra virgin avocado oil. This idea became part of a project where myself and a group of students had the opportunity to work as a team on this idea and build a real business plan, using the skills acquired on the Full-Time MBA.
How did the Full-Time MBA prepare you for the Entrepreneurial Journey?
Before developing the Future Trees project, I had already learnt the fundamental theories of entrepreneurship on the Design Thinking and Innovative Problem Solving and Design Management modules. I had also been part of the Imperial Innovation Challenge where we were tasked with creating an innovative solution to the problems faced by smart cities. My work on the Future Trees project took all this experience to the next level.
How did you work as a group on the Entrepreneurial Journey?
My project group was made up of passionate minds from five different countries Russia, Singapore, India, South Africa and the UK. We developed the Future Trees concept across four months through a range of monthly meetings, mini-projects and research, all checked and monitored by a dedicated project coach. Specifically, our coach was instrumental in guiding us though the initial development stage so we could get to the right starting point where we could explore the complexities behind the Future Trees project.
As an example, we found that the ‘Why Statement’ and ‘Brand Vision’ – which are essential to basis of a new brand – were not easy to create at first. Our project coach helped us through this and to understand the practical issues that may emerge during the business operation state. This initial part of our project took up half of our time, but this was essential in creating a solid foundation for the project and a clear plan for our next steps.
After this initial stage had been conquered, we were introduced to the Enterprise Lab, where students could meet to work on projects and develop their business ideas together. This collaborative journey was an excellent way to develop my knowledge in a whole host of different areas. Business plans require expertise from every aspect of business, from finance to marketing, and the Enterprise Lab was a great way of learning about areas in the sector we were less familiar with. I found our discussions on branding and marketing in the Enterprise Lab to be invaluable to the progress of our business plan.
How did the Entrepreneurial Journey provide the foundation for Vênoor Living?
At the end of the four months we had developed a fully formed business plan, using our own knowledge and the wealth of advice available from our project coach and the Enterprise Lab. The Entrepreneurial Journey was an essential building block in the origins of Vênoor Living and positive, collaborative environment in which to develop my business acumen.