Boticca.com is a new online marketplace that sells hand-crafted unique accessories made by independent designers. It was launched at the end of September 2009 by two young entrepreneurs, Kiyan Foroughi and Niloufar Sassani, who are managing their new business between Paris and London. Before talking with Kiyan Foroughi, Boticca's CEO, I checked his profile on LinkedIn, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had also graduated from Tufts University in Boston, where yours truly went to graduate school. Needless to say, I am very happy to talk to a fellow Tufts alum about his company's funky brand!
SCHMOOZY FOX: Kiyan, first of all, congratulations with the launch of your new company! How did you come up with the idea of starting an online marketplace that sells jewellery and accessories?
Kiyan Foroughi: The road to starting my own business has been evolutionary. After graduating from Tufts, where I majored in economics, I wanted to hone my accounting and finance skills, and thought that a job in investment banking would allow me to develop them. As a result, I spent a couple of years working in mergers and acquisitions in New York City.
The next step was to be able to apply these skills within a more strategic framework. I thought that a job in private equity was a good step to
move in this direction. My first choice was a firm called TA Associates, and I did get a job there. I was actually one of the youngest associates ever at the firm. I was responsible for finding investment opportunities in the technology sector across Europe as well as general opportunities in France and French-speaking countries. It was at TA that I started interacting with many entrepreneurs, and thought that I myself would love to start my own business at some point. I didn't think it would happen so quickly though!
SCHMOOZY FOX: How did you come up with the idea of Boticca.com?
Kiyan Foroughi: In December 2008, while on vacation in Marrakesh, Niloufar Sassani and I were wandering around the Medina market. There, we came across a jewellery designer with astonishingly beautiful items. We thought that it was such a pity that the designer's creations were only restricted to the Medina market. “What if we come up with a way of making this beauty accessible to many more people?” we thought. That's how the idea of Boticca.com was born.
After that, we spent about 2 months doing research – I did it every night after coming home from work – then decided to go for it in February 2009.
I had the advantage of talking directly with my Internet entrepreneur friends to get their feedback on the business model of Boticca. In the end, I felt very strongly that I wanted to go for it and start this business. I was also actually admitted to London Business School for their MBA programme, but decided to defer my admission one year in order to get Boticca off the ground.
SCHMOOZY FOX: Let's talk about Boticca. How did you come up with this company name, and what does Boticca.com stand for? What are the brand values of this new venture?
Kiyan Foroughi: Botica (with one c) is an old French Provençal word for boutique. That's what we wanted to call our company at the beginning. However, some cyber-squatter owned that domain name and wouldn’t sell it for a reasonable price. So we decided to slap another “c” to it and I think that Boticca with two c’s is actually a much more funky name!
As far as Boticca's brand values go, just think about it: what girl wants to go to a party and see another one wearing exactly the same thing as she is wearing? Boticca is an online destination for discovering unique items. Our values are expression of one's individuality, being unique and standing out from the crowd.
SCHMOOZY FOX: As you know, SCHMOOZY FOX is passionate about funky brands -- innovative, original, contemporary, customer-focused companies based on solid business management. Does Boticca.com correspond to this description, and how?
Kiyan Foroughi: Yes, Boticca is a funky brand! I'd say that we are funky both from the front end and back end, so to say. First, we are innovative and unique. We are championing independent designers in the ways nobody else is doing it. We're about to launch an online magazine featuring profiles of designers, their personal stories and stories behind their creations. In this sense, we are partly an Internet business, and partly a publishing company. We have long-term plans of creating high quality content on our site.
On the back end, as far as our business operations are concerned, we are also very funky! Our team, consisting of the founders, fashion writers, video reporters, and web developers is spread around the world. We have found a very successful way of collaborating virtually, and it doesn't seem to undermine our achievements.
My co-founder Niloufar Sassani is a fashion person, she is the one who actually came up with the idea. She's the creative mind behind Boticca! She has a fantastic eye for finding brilliant designers and one of her greatest talents.
SCHMOOZY FOX: Who is Boticca.com for? Do you have a clear profile of your “typical” customer, or do you think it's really for just about anybody who likes accessories?
Kiyan Foroughi: I think that 18-40 year old females will be naturally attracted to the beautiful creations. Our marketing efforts will also go towards attracting their partners, who would definitely find a lot of interesting gift ideas on Boticca.com for those special occasions.
SCHMOOZY FOX: I understand that the main advantage for your customers lies in the fact that the items sold on Boticca are so unique. And what about the advantages for designers?
Kiyan Foroughi: Besides generating business for our designers, we essentially also help them build their personal brands on our site! Every designer who sells through Boticca has space on our site to express her values, passions and personal stories and in this way, connect to her customers directly.
I have to say that we are receiving a lot of applications from designers who would like to sell on our website, but we cannot admit them all. For them, membership on Boticca is free, we only charge a small commission once an item is sold. We make a personal assessment of each designer's work, and the main criterion for being selected is quality.
SCHMOOZY FOX: How do you want Boticca.com to evolve?
Kiyan Foroughi: Oh, there is still so much to do to get this business off the ground! We'll be, for instance, rolling out a number of features which will allow to process customized orders, creating great content around designers and their work, and other interesting projects. Our goal is to be THE online destination for finding unique accessories, and a truly global business. Which will mean translating our site into many languages!
SCHMOOZY FOX: Thank you for this funky brand interview, and the best of luck with your new venture!
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