Hot Stuff: Management Consultant Dabbles In Campus Food Start-Up
Grenoble GSB student Hardik Ladva was inspired by classmates to launch a small-scale food start-up. An MBA gave him the chance to experiment and master social media marketing.
When Hardik Ladva finished lectures and relaxed with classmates at Grenoble GSB’s campus on Rue Pierre Semard, they would often complain about their humdrum lunches.
Hardik would tuck into hot, home-cooked Indian dishes each day at the French business school. Rather than enjoying a coq au vin or crème brulée, with a glass of the local Côtes du Rhône, his fellow MBA candidates would survive on tacos and kebabs.
One such classmate, Chaitanya Krishna, asked if Hardik could bring in some extra portions for them. And Hardik soon saw the appeal among the rest of his class.
“My entrepreneurial instincts kicked in and, with the support of my wife and few loyal customers, I launched a business experiment,” says Hardik. That experiment, a small business called Tamarhind, spread across his MBA program.
It was a bit of fun with the bonus of entrepreneurship experience – and a few satisfied MBA classmates that would be in his debt. Although in a “beta stage”, Hardik looked into the legal processes required to set-up the business on a grand scale.
It may be on hold for the time being, but it was a clever little start-up that gave him a taste of the entrepreneurial way of life. Hardik joined the program at Grenoble – one of the highest MBA ranking schools in France – to sure up his skills in business planning, marketing and strategy. “I found my intellect more suited to these functions and I also wanted to progress in a role in strategy consulting or corporate strategy,” he says.
For those roles, Grenoble was the obvious choice. But what many MBAs don’t know, he says, is that the French town is renowned for its technology-cluster of leading research and tech start-ups. “The vast opportunities to network made it appealing to me,” he says. “The location was important.”
But it was more than entrepreneurship opportunities that drew him to the school, however fun it may have been to dabble in food production.
He applied to a raft of schools in Europe and Canada. “But my preference for Grenoble was partly because, although it’s a two-year program and the first-year is classroom intensive, students can take up internships to experiment and explore different roles. Especially those whose primary goal was to change their professional stream post-MBA,” Hardik says.
“GEM also has some of the best professors in the subjects that interest me.”
He started out on the engineering-track, as many MBAs do, and after completing six months’ of rotational training in a competitive graduate program, was selected for a business development and pre-sales role.
He worked in a process engineering department, but at first it was difficult to give up his technical roots, although he did not give them up completely. He still worked in product design and reverse engineering, but a new role in business development broadened his horizons.
By that point, an MBA was the perfect opportunity to explore his new-found interests. Grenoble also have him the skills to make his entrepreneurial experiment, seemingly, a success.
“The MBA program taught me a lot of concepts like target costing, social media marketing and online community management. I used them all extensively in the process,” Hardik says.
“The [Facebook] community page was such a hit that I was contacted by a few local businesses to help them setup their own community pages – and I’m currently working on two such projects on the side.”
He aspires to become a management consultant or business development strategist. He took up an internship with POMA and after completing it, stayed on as an external management consultant, working on a market entry strategy into Algeria.
Hardik doesn’t rule out further study, either. He’s considering pursuing a Doctorate in strategy management or energy management and even working as a full-time teacher or coach.
As with any good MBA program, Grenoble has given him more options than he knows what to do with. It was a “crucial” stepping stone in his management career.
“Before my MBA, I used key strategy tools through gut feeling and without any formal training whatsoever. However, the MBA program has enabled me to connect the dots between the academic and corporate worlds, and develop a wider perspective,” he adds.
An MBA was clearly an important step in his develop, and so too his entrepreneurial experiment – which is a path that Grenoble prides itself on.
Hardik still tucks into his home-cooked meals at lunchtime and is still, I imagine, making his classmates turn green with envy.