Brickline Group may very well be the most diverse business consultancy around! It was formed over a cup of coffee in 2012 by a group of MIP MBAs including Italian Swayum Somrah, Russian Artem Karida, Russian Lana Silanteva, Indian Anshul Bhat and Taiwanese Cheng Ping Yu. Between the five MBAs, they are fluent in 14 languages – which has been a major asset in their international company.
The partners share the story of Brickline’s origins and the news of an exciting new client the group just gained!
How did Brickline come about?
A lot can happen over a coffee, as they say! It was in the end of 2012 year and at just another casual weekly get-together at a coffee bar when the idea of Brickline was born. What started as a normal exchange of the latest updates the job offers we had, the coming interviews or the pending freelance projects soon turned into a conversation about what we all really would like to do something challenging, risky and exciting like starting a new business in times of an economic downturn in a foreign land.
But where to start? We went back to our personal experiences during the MBA and worked on organizational checkups at companies, business plans for startups, innumerable case studies and three-month projects at companies.
From all this analysis (yes, we MBAs are good at it!), one thing became clear that the small (and mostly family) businesses in Italy want to grow, expand internationally, innovate and be great at customer experience. But most of them fail to do so and the single biggest reason is the lack of adequate resources be it money (for expensive consulting), time, expertise, strategic human resource, etc.
And that was it we knew we could help! With our international background, vast business network in emerging economies, and our passion for innovation and finding new and unconventional ways of doing business we could help these businesses internationalize in the most cost efficient way. By the end of the night, we had a lot of napkins with draft business models, 25 cups of coffee and many more such evenings planned. That is why at Brickline, we absolutely love coffee!
What makes Brickline Group different than other consulting groups?
We specialize in end-to-end internationalization service for small and medium businesses, starting from an absolutely free preliminary analysis and finishing at the point where our customer has established a long-term relation with a partner abroad. In other words, we take full responsibility and are ready to share the risks and outcomes of the undertaking with clients.
We focus on delivering actual results and not templates or passing industry standard recommendation to our customers. The best results can only be achieved by working in ‘open’ collaboration with our customers and partners, and by striving to make things as simple as possible. We design, innovate and implement together with the customer.
Freedom of thought and expression, crazy and far-fetched ideas, design-driven approach, asking many ‘stupid’ questions and good senses of humour are some of the things that we very much encourage. We also are very passionate about innovation. We are trying to combine all of our passions in our work. So, if you have an exciting/crazy/far-fetched idea or a project, we are more than happy to cooperate/collaborate/mentor/guide you!
How did your experiences at MIP help shape Brickline?
When you decide to join an MBA program, you fully commit to learning. Apart from undisputable high quality of the program, with a free and thought-encouraging environment, we particularly appreciated the focus of the school on entrepreneurship and innovation. For example, the business plans that we worked on as an assignments were designed for real startups selected by MIP through a competition.
One of the best qualities of the MBA at MIP is the perfect blend of learning inside the classroom and outside of the walls of the school. We were especially lucky in this regard, as we managed to create particularly strong bonds among all the classmates. We used to spend a lot of time together, so it felt more like a family than a traditional university. In our MBA 32 class, we held traditional “cultural dinners” on Thursdays. We would go to a restaurant to try the cuisine of a particular country Mexican, Peruvian, Indian, Lebanese, German, Chinese and others (in our class, there were students coming from 19 countries). This way we could learn, respect and understand the culture and traditions of different countries.
Our class was also the first class in Italy (thanks to our Italian classmate Stefano Barazzetta) to take the MBA Oath, the international initiative started in Harvard in 2009 with a mission to ensure that in the course of their work MBA graduates create value responsibly and ethically.
We have inherited all these MIP MBA values true entrepreneurial spirit, freedom of thought, leadership, mutual respect and understanding, cultural sensitivity, friendship, business ethics and responsibility and brought it along to Brickline Group. Politecnico di Milano and MIP have a very strong and trusted name in Italy and being the graduates of MIP not only gives us an edge in negotiating with the public and private entities but also instills credibility towards Brickline in our customers.
What is your advice to other MBAs?
Be daring and willing to challenge the status quo. Don’t wait for things to happen, create opportunities yourself. Get to know people, learn from them and make bonds with them, it will help you in the future. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your dreams and keep having fun!
Any exciting things going on this summer at Brickline Group?
Although Brickline is a very young startup, barely a month old (officially) and still in its very initial stage, we already have some exciting news to share: we recently became the business consultant for internationalization of Pasticcerie Nannini. It is one of the most famous and oldest luxury food brands of Tuscany owned by the ex-Formula 1 pilot Alessandro Nannini. In the first stage of the project, we will lead the expansion in Russia, India, and China. Brickline Group and Nannini Group have created the “Tuscan Force for Internationalization” – to promote the excellences of Tuscany – history and art, food and wine, luxury goods and wellness on the world stage. As a part of this project, we will help the local producers improve their businesses and compete internationally. Also, we are collaborating with regional business associations and authorities for territorial marketing, in Italy and in abroad.