In the Land of the Inkas

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Have you ever heard of sphagnum moss? Neither had we. Our team, FTMBA 2017 students Mitul Bhat, Katrina Gordon, Pan Lu, Hady Barry and Mostafa AbdelAziz, had the chance to explore this new world of small, absorbent, flowering plants through our Spring 2016 IBD project. We were assigned to work with Inka Moss, a Peruvian social enterprise, and one of its investors, NESsT, an early-stage impact investor, to develop a US go-to-market strategy for the sphagnum moss that Inka Moss collects and processes. Sphagnum moss is a highly absorbent type of moss that is used to grow specialty plants like orchids. It is used in its other forms as a soil conditioner, for decoration, or even as a natural water filter.

The “Moss” Diverse Team in IBD History

Inka_2 copyBetween ethnicity, nationality, languages spoken, professional experience, religious background, dietary preferences and sleep schedule, the members of our team were different in every way. This diversity in experiences and points of view made our experience quite unique!

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Exploring Peru

In an effort to get to know Peru before starting work, we arrived early to explore different parts of the country. We hiked Machu Picchu, checked out the glaciers of Huaraz, and challenged our bodies at elevations over 5000m (16,000ft) high. We also quickly learned we love Peruvian breakfasts and walking around the beautiful streets of Lima!

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Ceviche por favor!

In between working, we were able to discover the city and find what makes this beautiful place tick. To our surprise, food became a pivotal part of this trip. Lima is a culinary powerhouse, and the ceviche, Chinese fusion ‘chifa,’ sandwiches, meats and local fruits definitely made the long hours together and many revisions of our project so much easier.

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Getting Down to Business

We devised an elaborate plan to create a helpful strategy for our client, which meant our schedule was packed: defining target customers, developing positioning of products, creating a go-to market plan with detailed messaging, pricing, distribution, and marketing tactics, and finally an implementation plan to boot!

Day…

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…and Night!

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Highlands visit

To give us more context, our client arranged for us to visit Inka Moss’ production facility in the Highlands. We had to wake up at 5:30 am to catch a 7-hour bus ride from Lima to Jauja, but we were very excited to gain a better understanding of where the moss is grown and the collect, cleaning, drying and packaging processes.

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Most importantly, we had the unique opportunity to interact with the community and understand the impact that Inka Moss has had in the communities it works with. After spending one day in the community up on the mountain, the next day was filled with sharing and interpreting the information and insights from our trip, brainstorming on our next steps, getting to the bus station, and a 10-hour bus ride! The traffic was insanely bad, but we finished 5 movies, 2 books and caught up on 2 days of sleep. Success!

Down to the Wire

In the end, it was our mission to turn all our experiences into actionable insights and devise a holistic go-to-market presentation for Inka Moss to use to enter the US market.

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#doitforthemoss

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Happy client, happy team! As we presented to our client during our final presentation, our goal was to offer Marco insights and actionable next steps that would enable Inka Moss to hit the ground running. If you asked any of us four months ago what sphagnum moss was, we would have had little to say—but now we can’t stop talking or thinking about it!

 

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