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How to succesfully start a business

“Who doesn’t like wine?”, was the opening question at the guest lecture day at Tio Amsterdam. The second speaker also started off well, with a presentation called “Party and Bullshit”. The day was all about how to successfully start a business, in hospitality or events.

Everybody likes wine

The fact that only one student admits to not liking wine, is exactly the reason why Mireille Reuling started thinking about the product a few years ago. “Everybody likes wine”, she claims. She was studying Art, after graduating from the Hotelschool of Maastricht, when she started experimenting with wine concepts.

Partnerships with KLM, De Bijenkorf and luxury hotels

This year her innovation – The Real Wine Gum, edible wine – landed her a nomination for Hotello of the Year. She has partnerships with KLM, De Bijenkorf and the luxury hotels by Camille Oostwegel. And now, the Hilton in New York is interested as well.

Edible Coco Chanel

How do you brand a product, which is essentially candy, in a way that you can partner up with businesses like these? “First: have faith in what you are doing”, Reuling tells us. “Believe in your product.” However, believing in your product is not enough. You have to convince consumers as well. So, you have to position your product in the best way possible. The entrepreneur made clear how important brand experience is. “Our brand essence? We wanted to create the edible Coco Chanel. The Real Wine Gum is adult luxury food.”

Reasons to start a business

Why would you start a business in event management? According to Ron Simpson, in general there are four reasons to start a business: to solve a problem, to take a chance, to supply a demand, or because you see an opportunity. “To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to ask yourself: why am I doing this, do I need help, how will it affect my life”, Simpson tells us. “Also: talk to people you trust and whose opinion you care about. And then just do it!”

Fear of missing out

Simpson isn’t easy to label. As the introduction to the guest lecture day already stated, he is a talent manager, creative director, artist, presenter and party starter all in one. “How my brain works? What I want, is to create a fear of missing out. I hate social media, but I’m always on it. Always checking out what everybody is doing. And that’s how we all work: our worst fear is to miss out on something amazing. I tap into that emotion.”

A brand, not a party

The stories Simpson and Reuling tell us have a link: it’s all about branding. “Please Don’t Tell is not just a party, it’s a brand”, Simpson explains, “and my objective was to get people talking for me.” His strategy worked. Each Friday night, club Jimmy Woo was packed, with hundreds of people stranded outside who couldn’t get in anymore. “How do you know you are winning?”, the creator asks us at the end of the lecture. “All over the world we started seeing copies of our party. They stole everything. The name, the artwork, the concept. The best compliment is when others copy you.”

Students about the guest lectures

After the lecture by Mireille Reuling, International Business student Kelly Reijne quickly stepped forward to ask Reuling if she has any internships at her company. “I always like to make contact with speakers. You never know what may come of it”, she enthusiastically tells. “I would recommend others to do the same.” Reuling asks her to send an e-mail with more information and promises to respond.

International Business Management student Roeland Naber mostly enjoyed the second lecture. “He knows how fast things change in business. I would’ve liked to go to that party! But the story was nice as well. Personal, and she believes in what she does.”

Read more about: entrepreneurial, guest lecture