Entrepreneurs - Portrait of a Kedge alumnus turned...
Hello. Please say a few words about yourself.
Hello. My name is Elise Le Monier. I’m 26 years old and I come from Brittany. I graduated from KEDGE in 2016, and I’ve been in Mexico for two years now, where I created my business a year and a half ago!
After you received your diploma from KEDGE, what did you do (internships, first job, etc.)?
While at KEDGE, I started by placement year with an initial internship at a company called “Les Comptoirs”, a digital communications agency in Paris. My job was in business communications, but I also worked on the events side of the company and organised agency events to bring all of our partners together. For example, we organised a competition between bloggers, and we got a good deal of publicity around that.
My internship consisted of promoting Club Med Villages located all around the world. I loved this experience - and Montreal - but I preferred working for an agency. I did some consulting at a digital agency in Luxembourg for my end-of-studies placement so I could specialise in digital consulting. This internship was done as the first part of the Master’s 2, because I was accepted for an exchange programme in Mexico for my second part, and I really wanted to go there.
During my exchange at a partner university of KEDGE in Mexico, I began to work on creating an ecotourism agency with a friend I had met in Luxembourg. For about one year we tested it on the market. At the end of eight months, it was clear that there was enough of a demand so we created the business and were able to work in a more official manner.
Published by Kedge Business School Alumni on Wednesday, 6 June 2018
What were your reasons for moving abroad?
I went to Mexico mainly because I had the chance to come here via KEDGE. When I went to Canada, I spoke a lot of English, and I realised that I liked learning other languages. While at university, I studied Spanish, and I liked the idea of living in a country where I could improve my Spanish skills. I also started to know Mexico when I was on my exchange, and I thought it would be a shame to begin to learn a new culture and not be able to continue because I was limited by the few months of the programme. These are the reasons why I really wanted to start my own business.
Other factors were also taken into account, such as that there were plenty of opportunities and a strong demand for Europeans in tourism. To give you an example, this year is another record year for tourism in Mexico, so we quickly realised that it is a huge market and there is something we can do. Finally, I’ll finish by saying that the reasonable cost of living in Mexico also helped tilt the scales. This is a good thing when you are setting up a business.
Could you tell us about your career? Is it related to the courses you took at KEDGE?
I created “www.mexikoo.com”, an online ecotourism agency for Mexico. Gradually, we identified two principal activities.First, we offer the services of a travel agency - specialising in ecotourism. This means leaving the beaten path, meeting local people, living true experiences…! Our agency Mexikoo is now very visible online, because we do advertising on Google, SEO, we are very present on social networks, and we have a good reputation on Trip Advisor. Thanks to this online presence, lots of people who are thinking about travelling to Mexico contact us. Our clients come from all over: French-speaking Europe, Canada, even expatriates who live Mexico… . Now we are also getting more and more American clients. People find us when they type key words related to tourism in Mexico, and they contact us for personalised holidays. Currently we have a superb team that is in charge of developing our digital media presence to both promote Mexico and to put together unforgettable trips for our clients!
Packages differ depending on budget, region, and type of transportation. What we aim to do is to customise the trip and our service. Some clients want us to handle everything from A to Z. Based on the client’s preferences, we make reservations for unusual lodgings, plan excursions, hire a vehicle (sometimes with a guide/driver), etc. We put together a travel diary so that clients will have autonomy, but be well-guided at the same time. We are also available on site if needed during their trip. Other clients prefer to simply buy one of the excursions packages available for their itinerary. That’s also possible with Mexico!
The second activity is selling ecotour excursions online, which allows clients to plan their own holiday and make their own choices as to cars, lodging, excursions, etc. It’s a digital project that we’ve created to offer excursions and ecotourism holidays which, up to now, hasn’t existed. This side of the business that clearly requires a lot of work in research and innovation.
My personal mission is primarily to develop services offered. I try to understand the demands of our clients and offer them new products. We adapt to the market. For example, here in Mexico City, people often search for chauffeurs/drivers. So we are in the process of putting that in place because it’s a real need in this immense city where there are so many things to see. In terms of regions, our services are already well established in the Yucatan and the Chiapas, which are very popular places for Europeans. We are now expanding into new areas that are increasing in popularity, such as Baja California (an incredibly beautiful region), or the areas around Mexico City.
I also oversee all sales, and my associate handles the digital side (creation of the website, campaigns, animation on social networks), as well as the administrative and development strategies part of our start up. In fact, we recently raised $ 1,400,000 Mexican pesos, and a new partner has invested in the company!
Of course certain subjects helped prepare me for this job, especially at the end of my studies in M2. I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and so I chose classes related to that.
The reality of actually doing a job is different than what you learned at school. You need a lot of common sense and you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for advice from those around you. Little by little, it is also the experience that helps.
What are the essential qualities needed for this job?
For me, the essential qualities are perseverance and audacity. Certain things are hard enough, and people don’t have the same manner of working here in Mexico. For example, it’s not as well-defined as it is in France. You always have to fight to get things done. You must also know how to make yourself stand out, listen to clients, and know how to reassess so you can offer good products that will sell.
Finally, I’d like to say that you have to love what you do. Because after all, it’s a business that you are building and you can’t be afraid of the amount of work, long days, and long weeks.
How would you describe Mexico’s culture and its business culture compared to that of France?
In the tourism sector, which is what I work in, I’ve noticed that the French are very demanding, certainly more than the Mexicans or other nationalities.
It’s an advantage to have a European business here in Mexico because we know what the French expect, and I think that it gives them confidence.
On the other hand, the French who come to Mexico sometimes think the cost of living is very low, which isn’t necessary true. You pay for quality. This is true for our agency, but also for our partners, particularly the guides. They do a superb job and are incredibly knowledgeable. We don’t want to undersell their services. We sometimes have to explain that to our clients, who understand it very well. And then they come back very happy with their travels and their encounters.
In terms of daily life, and the Mexicans, I can say that the people here are very nice, very helpful and happy. They are also very open and are very interested in our culture, that of France and of Paris. They ask lots of questions and like to share their own culture. They are a very joyous people!
What are your ambitions for the future?
I’d like to go back to Europe sometime, because I miss France, my friends, and my family. But the priority right now is our company. I want to see it develop as fully as possible so I’m not going do anything that may impede it. It is really stimulating, and we are very passionate about what we are doing. Maybe one day we’ll take advantage of our experience in the tourism field to create “Mexikoo” in other countries, or even create another business in France or somewhere else. I love entrepreneurship!
It’s honestly difficult to say at the moment. We don’t know what we will be doing in a year or two from now because we are in the thick of it right now.
Does Mexikoo accept interns?
Yes, absolutely! We currently have two interns, and we are constantly looking for more. We are actually looking for two French-speaking interns right now (digital marketing – development), and an English-speaking intern, because our big goal for this year is to develop the American market. I think our internships are very interesting and instructive for those who like the digital field and entrepreneurship. You can apply on line:
Or by email : email@example.com