NovActeur is an innovative startup in the field of textile creation. The company expanded its concept thanks to the participation of first year students at Grenoble Ecole de Management. As part of the Ulysses Live Business program, students were able to work on business development while providing the company with surprising results!
Fabien Bergeron is the founder of NovActeur and a professor of business management at GEM. He launched this project following a long career in engineering and renewable energy. While the business was very advanced in terms of design, the concept was further developed thanks to the pragmatic perspective offered by business school students.
"The company had some bad luck over the past, in particular during the creation of its website and the search for suppliers, which is the most delicate part of development. The partnership with GEM students from January to March 2018 was very beneficial and helped us greatly during the commercialization phase," underlines Fabien.
Created in 2014, NovActeur is developing innovative and disruptive concepts for the ready-to-wear market. It currently uses plant-based textiles with beech, eucalyptus, hemp, flax or nettle fibers. Its textiles are certified GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), its dyes are certified OEKO-TEX (which guarantees the human and ecological safety of a product), and its inks are certified EcoCert (water-based printing without heavy metals or solvents). In addition, the startup has made an ethical commitment via the Fair Wear Foundation, which guarantees the working conditions during textile production.
A pragmatic perspective from business school students
NovActeur combines innovation in both its products and their applications. It markets this innovation through a new concept for urban wear that could potentially target women between the ages of 35 and 50 who hold well-placed jobs and an interest in both style and sustainability.
Seven groups of five students worked for three months on the company's eco-sustainable position, in particular as relates to challenges in terms of supply, production, marketing, finance and sales. "The primary task was to create a business model that worked within the guiding dynamic of a collaborative and circular economy," adds Fabien. At the same time, two GEM teachers provided a framework that offered the projects a formal structure in terms of their educational experience. And everything was carried out in English.
The students' recommendations
"It was incredible to see the diversity of content. There was no repetition in terms of recommendations. Some had very operational perspectives while others thought in terms of strategy. And both fit well with the project."
- In terms of supply, the primary recommendation from students was to focus on Made In France partners. Contact is currently underway with French manufacturers. In addition, new suppliers are being identified to match ethical and environmental criteria (including for example European suppliers of ready-to-wear natural bio-sourced clothing and Nepalese suppliers certified by a local NGO).
- Target new potential market segments such as generation X youth by creating/adapting a clothing line and brand identity to match this new segment.
- Diversify distribution by creating a mobile showroom that integrates experiential marketing (in particular olfactory marketing).
- Test collaborative stores whose concept is a match for the project.
- Increase the “lean” approach by focusing on two clothing lines: one made from natural alternative fibers and one that promotes Esperanto.
Ulysses: innovation for first year students
The Ulysses program is open to first year students specialized in innovation. Focus is placed on active learning with practical scenarios taking place before theoretical teaching. It is all about developing know-how, know-how to be and think, and know-how to make. The Live Business Case is one of the primary means of raising student awareness about the current challenges faced by organizations. It also enables companies to communicate on their activity and offer concrete case studies for the students to work on. Thanks to a year-long live business case, students in the Ulysses program are constantly immersed in hands-on and real-world learning. To reinforce the concept, the program launched the Business Case Competition in English in partnership with NovActeur (see above). Three teams were rewarded for their work on the business case (Innovative and creative prize, Pragmatic and creative prize, and Jury's favorite).