“The idea came from our father,” explained Ary. “He worked in the world of fashion, accessories and bags for more than 30 years, and he had been playing with the idea of making a practical, stylish and comfortable bag for a few years.” In 2016, Michel’s idea became a reality, but Ary still remembers the family lunch where everything changed: “The bag’s fastening wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t secure enough to be ideal when travelling. Right there, practically on the table, we all worked together and invented a new, secure fastening system, for which we would eventually file a patent at the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property).”
The bag was a success and Michel saw his sales increase. Around the same time, he took part in the Lépine competition, which is a French awards event for the best inventions. Michel left the competition not only with the gold medal, but also with his first employee! “It started as a joke because none of us really believed it, so I had told him that if he won the Lépine competition that I would quit my job to join his company. Of course, I had to keep my word when he won the gold medal,” confessed Ary. “Then, my brother joined us because the business was growing and my father really needed help.”
Turning point at the Amazon Campus Challenge
In October of 2017, another major event left its mark on the young company. Arsayo crossed paths with a team of SKEMA (MSc in International Marketing and Business Development) students, including Héloïse and Graciella, who invited the company to participate in the first ever Amazon Campus Challenge student competition.
“The Amazon Campus Challenge not only exposed us to e-commerce, but was also an incredibly positive experience with two highly motivated students. We continued to collaborate with them after the competition and they’re still in charge of our strategy on Amazon.”
“We were still searching for our identity. We had just come out with a logo, photos... in short, we implemented a real identity strategy and we were afraid that Amazon would overshadow all this work. We weren’t really opposed; we just thought that it wasn’t the right time and that it was still too early,” recalled Ary. In the end, the turning point was inevitable: “They got me with flattery,” he joked, “by telling me that they love the company, the bag, etc., and that they would take care of everything. In other words, we didn’t have to make any financial or human resources investment. It was hard to resist in these conditions, especially since they were really convinced and convincing.”
The first step was for Héloïse and Graciella to create a dedicated page for the bag on Amazon.fr. Then, armed with information, documents and other photos provided by Ary, they expanded their efforts to Europe. The sales began to take off gradually and “the customers, who were really satisfied, left lovely comments on our product pages,” recalled Ary. At the midway point (the sales phase of the competition lasts four months), Ary realised not only that his sales were increasing significantly, but also that of the sixty groups (students and partner companies) in the competition, his team was still among the top five.
An incredibly positive experience
He was convinced yet again when his students suggested that he take things to the next level by investing in keywords and ad campaigns. “We were talking about a budget of 10 to 20 euros per month,” said Ary. “This was clearly not a huge risk. And, after a few weeks, we realised that we were selling more, gaining more visibility and that we had a chance to win the competition... we were all in!”
All in to the point that the team won the first prize! Practically one year has passed since the end of the competition and Ary is still on Amazon. “We sell twice as many bags on Amazon as on our own site, we’ve gained visibility and expanded our offer internationally... why not take advantage of such a showcase? Aside from the sales, this experience was truly educational and positive. Héloïse and Graciella continue to work for us – as freelancers now – and I’ve even contacted the Amazon Campus Challenge team for the 2019 event.”