Makes Sense Lab, a startup with the EAE Business School seal of quality
09 de July de 2020
09 de July de 2020
Our startup incubator, EAE Lab, is renowned not only for its capacity to steer and guide the projects of the School’s entrepreneurs in a wide range of aspects, including financial and legal advice, but it has also built a strong reputation for having a keen eye for attracting the most interesting ideas with the greatest economic potential. A good example is the project Makes Sense Lab, created by Bárbara Plazas and selected in 2019 to take part in the 4th edition of EAE Lab.
In this interview, we talk to Bárbara about Makes Sense Lab and her experience in EAE Business School’s startup incubator. Here are some of the impressions she shared with us.
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Bárbara, tell us a bit about yourself. What did you study? What are your passions? What do you do?
Hello! Thank you for inviting me to chat. I am from Colombia, where I studied psychology. Over the years, I have rounded off my education with studies in various disciplines, including Minors in Business Administration and Management and Design, as well as a program on Behavioural Economics. I took my education even further at EAE Business School, with the Master in Marketing and Sales Management. I have always been interested in learning about how we interact with what we consume, and this Master was the ideal program for improving my knowledge in areas such as pricing strategies and current marketing models.
What about entrepreneurship and innovation? Have they always been passions of yours or are they skills that you have acquired along the way?
I firmly believe that innovation is something that you pick up through practice. We all have it in us and in our drive to see problems from different perspectives. At a personal level, I have always been keen to understand how we think and make decisions from completely different perspectives, and how we can innovate in terms of how we interact with each other and with what we consume.
In my case, my entrepreneurial flair is 100% learned. I never saw myself as an entrepreneur, but my passion for the senses from a psychological perspective and in terms of the world of branding has led me to get involved in entrepreneurial ventures and create my own, which have let me develop what I know and, most importantly, keep learning about the things I love.
Now, tell us about your startup, Makes Sense Lab. What does it involve? Where did the idea come from?
At Makes Sense Lab, we use the sense of smell to create stories. We create fragrances that enable brands to transmit their essence through our most powerful sense: smell. We connect all the capacity of aromas to make us feel and remember with the essence of the brands.
We build olfactory experiences based on sense. To achieve this, we use raw materials that do not harm the planet. We don’t test on animals and we promote fair, artisanal and professional work.
The idea originated from my research into the olfactory bulb and the limbic system, my passion for fragrances and my professional career in communication and brand construction. This is where I saw the opportunity to connect my passions and provide solutions for brands that enable them to set themselves apart and create a memorable impact in the market, without the amount of toxic agents found in some fragrances, candles and cosmetics on the market.
The project was developed in the 4th edition of startup in EAE Lab. What was that experience like? What does the scheme involve and how did they help you develop your project?
That’s right! The company already existed in Colombia, but I applied to incubate the project in EAE Lab because I was a huge opportunity to develop it further and start rolling it out in the European market.
The EAE Lab scheme is a rollercoaster, which is ultimately exciting and positive, where you meet people who generously share their knowledge with you and give you their honest opinion, which is really valuable. The scheme requires a high level of dedication and efforts, but also a great capacity for flexibility, which has a really satisfactory end result.
What do you consider the greatest challenges during the development of the project? What are your greatest allies?
Without a doubt, the greatest challenge was distributing time, being able to find enough time to dedicate to the process, for the meetings and the teams, as well as juggling it all with everything else. You have to be really passionate about what you want to achieve.
In my opinion, your greatest allies are, at an internal level, the passion that you feel for the goals that you set yourself and your capacity to with persevere and, at an external level, the other teams. I think that it really helps to observe and experience the process, from the varied range of situations and ideas that the people involved in EAE Lab have to offer.
What moments and activities do you remember particularly? What about the other projects?
I particularly remember the talks with other entrepreneurs. It was rewarding just to hear other stories of successes and failure. It was rewarding both as a project and as a person. Thanks to this, I met people who helped me to meet my manager in Spain and potential suppliers. The other two projects that incubated alongside mine in Madrid are amazing! The people behind them were really talented, dedicated, open and friendly. Good people make life more pleasant.
Gracias a eso conocí personas que me ayudaron a encontrar desde mi gestor en España hasta posibles proveedores. ¡Los otros dos proyectos que incubaron en Madrid conmigo son geniales! Tienen personas muy talentosas detrás; dedicados, abiertos y amables. Las buenas personas hacen que todo en la vida sea más agradable.
With respect to your studies, what did you do at EAE Business School? Did the knowledge you acquired help you devise and develop Makes Sense Lab? How?
My Master in Marketing and Sales Management helped me a great deal, primarily because, when I started the program, my project was already in the early stages and it became my obsession throughout the academic year. I even did my Thesis on Makes Sense Lab and its potential on the European market.
Hearing the opinions of the lecturers and sharing the project with my classmates was really rewarding. I don’t think that there is anybody on my Master who doesn’t know about Makes Sense Lab. Over the course of the Master, I adjusted my business plan and the pricing model, and I strengthened my vision for the project. Most importantly, I got lots of valuable ideas from my classmates.
So, what is the current situation of Makes Sense Lab right now?
We now have 5 boutique hotels in Colombia for which we have created their fragrance and we also produce their complementary items, all to ensure that the guests have a pleasant experience and associate the fragrance with their stay. In Spain, we are partners with the branding consultant Grávita. They are exceptional. We are working with them on the conceptualization of the fragrance for some of their clients.
In the Spanish market, we are also working on the first own-brand line of Makes Sense Lab scented candles. I spend all my free time on this project. Since I qualified in natural fragrances in Grasse, I am constantly devising new aromas that transport you to certain sensations and places. The idea is to bring out a small collection for people who want to have Makes Sense Lab in their homes.
What does the future hold for Makes Sense Lab? What about for you?
Like always, the future is exciting! I dive into my life head first. I expect that the future will be full of new lessons and adventures, full of new aromatic stories to tell.
What aspects of EAE Lab and EAE’s support for entrepreneurs would you highlight?
I would highlight the team effort of the founding group and the members who have joined the project along the way. The desire to add knowledge and inject capital into the entrepreneurial venture, job generation and the cultural exchange that is possible thanks to having its heart in a business school with people from all over the world. In my opinion, this is a project that reinvents itself each edition and I hope that it continues to grow even further year after year.
After having this experience, what would you say to any young entrepreneurs reading?
I would tell them to keep motivated, to take risks, to only pursue things that they are keen to learn about, and to enjoy themselves whatever happens along the way. I am a firm believer that launching an entrepreneurial venture doesn’t have to be painful. I would go even further and say that a venture will only succeed if you enjoy it, so I like to embrace entrepreneurship and life.
Thank you very much, Bárbara!