IBS is proud of its graduates who are confident, hard-working and successful. Read stories about how our former students managed to get on with their careers!
Zsófi Faur completed her studies of economics at IBS in 2001. Right after school she opened her art gallery, the Zsófi Faur Gallery.
How did the idea to open an art gallery occur to somebody who studied economics?
I have always lived among art, my father is a collector, my grandmother was a model of the famous Hungarian painter Ödön Márffy. My father and grandfather bought art directly from the artists who are now classics. My family history and connections helped me a lot in setting up a gallery in 2001.
Was this a great time for the art market and what was your focus?
It was rather early, we were among the first private galleries opened in Hungary, at that time we were called Ráday Gallery, in 2010 it is called Faur Zsófi Gallery. We focused on still living but already classical artists who fell into the category of “tolerated” or “forbidden” under socialism. We also worked with contemporary artists however we could not deal with them exclusively. Photo was an option for our gallery. Very soon we began to feel that we need to step out to the world, we could not rely on the local Hungarian market only. Great international professional curators, art dealers do not come to Hungary, so we need to go to where they are. One way to do this is to participate in contemporary art fairs. It was hard to get into this international market at the beginning, it is not easy to get accepted to a fair. Hungarian photographers are well-known worldwide, everybody knows who Robert Capa, Andre Kertész, Brassai were. These iconic names sell Hungarian photography and photography could also fit in the “progressive art” category. We have been participating in international art fairs since 2007 and in this respect we are unique among Hungarian art galleries.
What is it that you received from IBS to help this business?
I liked that IBS trained us for life. This is what generally is missing from Hungarian higher education. We had to do a lot of team works for example. In other universities you are shocked when you step out of the university into real life. You need to be creative, solve problems, you are able to carry out a project from A to Z.
Can you make your living from your gallery?
Before the financial crisis this was a good business, a gallery had to have a unique profile, style, a circle of customers and you could make your living from it. We did not have too many customers but they were regular customers. Since the crisis local customers have practically disappeared. We cannot continue our earlier practice of exhibiting and selling. We need to go abroad which requires finances.
How do you raise the necessary money?
The difficulty of this situation is that we need to be on the safe side I cannot experiment with artists and see how they are doing in the international market. It narrows down our options, we need to sell and from the income to cover the cost of the next fair. I work with those artist whom I am surely can sell. I cannot afford to introduce a new artist no matter that I trust and believe he or she is great. If I cannot sell him or her, I lose money, I cannot afford to risk. You should also know that the financial crisis has the most serious impact on the circle of customers whom we target, who could buy art for 5-15000 Euro. You can always sell very cheap or very expensive works, but the medium level is difficult. People do not believe that what is cheap can be good quality.
Who are your contracted artists?
I work with a few photo-artists. Béla Dóka, Anna Fabricius, Viola Fátyol, Gábor Arion Kudász, Ádám Magyar, Ágnes Éva Molnár, Gergely Szatmári, they are around 35-45 years of age, move internationally, they have a certain acknowledgement already. They are well informed about international trends, some of them have international awards.
Who are your customers?
Mostly Europeans, last year we went to Asia as well. We were in Palm Springs, California in February. Palms Srings is a promising territory for us, where people have the tradition to buy art and they can afford spending money on art. We participated in the SCOPE Miami 2014, in December. To Palm Springs we echibited the works by Béla Dóka és Gegely Szatmári, Ági Podmaniczky Csilla Bondor, and BOLDI.
When did you move your gallery from Ráday street to Bartók Béla?
We moved 5 years ago. The gallery in Ráday street was too small and not really appropriate for exhibitions. This is here a great space for exhibitions, I can set up exhibitions that I like, the shop window, which is the facade of the gallery works really well, not only passengers but everybody can see it even from the by-going trams.
Do you see already the light at the end of the tunnel of the crisis?
It is not easy to answer this. Lack of money is a decisive factor. Photo artists need to go abroad and sell there, they should be informed about international trends and know that East-Central European poverty, difficulties are not selling any more in the West. I am sorry to say but artistic trends and market trends are two things, how a curator approaches art and how a gallerist does that are very different. Artists often should choose between exhibiting or selling. Art has become a product like any other product, and selling is not happening in the galleries but at art fairs. That is, we need to adjust to the new situation if we want to survive and use these transformed marketing channels.
Nekedterem is a successful online grocery delivery service created by a former IBS student.
What did you do before Neked terem (Grown for you)? Our year at IBS was rather successful, I have great memories of the late professor Tom Owens. We learnt a lot from him, he taught classic marketing with a lot of case studies, and I think we were probably the first who received this type of new marketing and business knowledge at IBS in Hungary. After graduation I began working at Ogilvy & Mather agency as an account assistant, then I worked at HVG’s marketing section. I got more and more interested in internet business and I was among those who set up Vatera. The idea came from a Greek guy who raised money to launch an auction site in five countries parallel, earlier he had studied at Harvard Business School. The model already existed and his idea was to reshape it to a new context including Greece, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. I was involved in building brand awareness, Hungarian website development and marketing. From the five countries Vatera proved to be viable only in Hungary. At the beginning of the 2000s, online business was yet in its infancy in Hungary but it was a very lively period to initiate something. My ex-husband was very much involved in internet and through him I could really get up-to-date information. I worked for HVG Jobline in marketing, I learnt a lot both about website development and freshly emerging projects. In the meantime, I completed my studies in cultural anthropology, simply because I wanted to study something else, not just business. I also studied interior design, and for a while I was really into it. My first own enterprise was connected to internal design. I set up a twelve-part hobby course for those who wanted to furnish or refurbish their home or were interested in home design. Actually, I am still offering these courses, it is however more and more difficult to fit them into my schedule.
How did the idea of Neked terem occur to you?
After the birth of my second son, I thought how great it would be to get fresh vegetables and fruits directly from farmers. I began to talk to old ladies who were selling their products at the market, and set up my network. Meanwhile, a software programmer began to build a website for me. At the beginning I had some difficulties how to cooperate with farmers. The older generation was a bit suspicious, they were not familiar with computers at all, let alone online business. They think when you need fresh vegetables you walk to the market and buy them, and this is the way how it has always been and how it should be until the end of time. It was also hard to have the producers understand that we are bringing new customers and not taking away their good old customers. Little by little, I got acquainted with younger producers and then with the Élő Tisza cooperative. It is a flexible, loose network of producing, selling and quality control. Through this network we buy fruits and vegetables. We have our own network of suppliers as well. We also included more hand-made and home-made products, like dairies and meat.
Did you have some international models to build up your enterprise?
Yes, I did some research and thought that there would be reliable demand for a shortened food chain. Not everybody has the time to go to the farmers’ market and a lot of people would choose home delivery. The French agriculture community model is based on one family producer who supplies several families regularly, in other words, a few families maintain one producer family. This is the shortest way from farm to table. Another typical box system is when a company buys from different farmers and the products are distributed in a customers’ community. In Great Britain, registered customers pay in advance monthly and they receive their food boxes. In these systems the products do not have individual prices, the company regularly delivers a box of fresh products for a fixed price. This is not yet a viable option in Hungary. The Hungarian customer wants to be specific and wants to know the exact price of each item. In Hungary it is rather difficult to have regular orders. We have a lot of registered customers and they order on an ad hoc basis. We do not want to force them to order regularly as our system is rather flexible.
What is the special feature of Neked terem?
Our speciality is that we concentrate on local and hand-made products. Our target is the health-conscious customer. We also want to help local production. Our products can be traced back, our customer service receives and answers questions and we have a money back guarantee. Our customers can meet producers, we have our open days. The shortened food chain allows a more personal connection between producer and customer, this is our philosophy. We also help producers in marketing as much as we can.
Who are your customers?
Typically young people with family and kids. But instead of generational and income characteristics, I would say that our customers are more health-conscious than the average.
How do you see your success?
In the last two and a half years we doubled our revenues. We are developing, we deliver in Budapest and in the suburbs twice a week already, we have broadened our offers, we have organic products, cleaned vegetables, salads and spreads. I also consider it a success that we have suppliers who make their living from our business.
What are your plans?
Of course we want to develop further, but not much. We can grow as a franchise within the country, we may also extend our range of offers, with meat for example, goat cheese, wines, etc. I would like to extend the circle of our suppliers. I can imagine to double our present scale, but that is the maximum, that is my limit.
A young Hungarian woman in the world of a competitive, male dominated world of perfumes. Former IBS student Viktoria Minya is a young internationally acknowledged star...
A young Hungarian woman in the world of a competitive, male dominated world of perfumes. Former IBS student Viktoria Minya is a young internationally acknowledged star perfumist.
She saw herself on stage, she wanted to become an actress but she studied economics, as an agreement with her parents. Almost by accident, she discovered the world of perfumes when she was on Erasmus in Paris. She always loved perfumes but in Paris she learnt where she should study to become a professional perfumist, the Grasse Institute of Perfumery. The school was expensive, so she began working as an economist, and saving, spending her free time at a nearby Guerlin shop. She was very successful in her job but even more dedicated to her dream. When, at the age of 27 she was offered the director’s position of the same firm where she worked, she rejected it. In her interview she is talking about all these, as well as how the ability to have a “good nose” can be developed. Now she has her own firm and perfume creations. Her Hedonist stunned the profession with its authenticity and originality. Hedonist is a cult product from Indonesia to the US.
Probably you have come across the comfortable Dr. Batz slippers, shoes in shops, malls. The surprise is that Dr. Batz is not a foreign orthopaedist but a former IBS student,...
Probably you have come across the comfortable Dr. Batz slippers, shoes in shops, malls. The surprise is that Dr. Batz is not a foreign orthopaedist but a former IBS student, Zoltán Kárpáti. Newsdesk went to Pomáz to ask him about his business success.
All these began with your IBS dissertation paper. What was it about? My paper was about marketing and branding a special product, Dr. Batz slippers. But I need to begin my story earlier. When I finished my IBS studies in 2002, I already had been in the “business”. My parents were working in the shoe business and they regularly expected me to participate in the family work. I was given a small van and a key of a depot, saying, “Here you are, dear son, try to sell these shoes in the countryside.” And I did. I knocked on the door of shoe shops, introduced the products, and the shops ordered some of them. 30 days later I went back to collect the money and take more orders. At the time I was around 18. In the course of all this I noticed that there were some seasonal dynamics, ups and downs of certain products. For some reason slippers were especially well selling around Christmas time. I thought that we should focus on slippers only. Overall this was a good experience for me, I could learn a lot about the world of trading and business. But I also felt that this knowledge should be developed further, I just knew that I wanted to learn and study and get a business diploma. So, I decided to go to IBS, where I had a friend who studied there. I was accepted to IBS, but while I was studying I was still involved in several other things. I am proud that I always covered my own tuition fee which even back then was something. I had a great experience at IBS, I have great memories of those years but I must admit it was also tough.
Dr. Batz is a very good name, one cannot really tell where it comes from, definitely does not sound like Hungarian, neither is it obvious what it means. Was the name part of your strategy? In an earlier interview you were reluctant to tell the meaning of it. Would you tell it now? “Batz” as the name of our firm already existed. It is a mosaic word from the initials of my mother’s, sister’s, father’s and my name, Babi, Annamária, Tibor, Zoltán. When it came to decide my diploma work topic, it was not a question for me, “Branding in the light of Dr. Batz slippers.” I have thought that it would be a good strategy to add “Dr” to the name, and thus signal that we are into healthy products, slippers constructed in an anatomically conscious way, comfortable and help to prevent foot problems. What I worked out in my dissertation became our strategy. It is not enough to be good. I learnt a lot at IBS, and I knew that besides that the product is good, and it has an appropriate and attractive price, something special should be added. I wanted to make a high quality Hungarian product and I though it should also be displayed in a special way. Let’s put it onto special stands, with a special light, right at the entrance of a shop to attract attention immediately as one enters a shop. This was a big difference compared to the unfavourable places of hidden shelves where slippers were generally located. We also gave the shops everything on consignment. This allowed us to define and strongly recommend a maximum price and not letting shops go beyond that. We could insist on this as the shops did not have any risks. It was also a new and unique feature that Dr. Batz products could be ordered in individual sizes, this was a new practice as shops always had to buy a sortiment package, even if they just ran out of one size. These were the basic principles, which actually have not changed much, of course now have nicer and better stands with LCD monitors and leds, etc. I have tried to go abroad and have the parts and the work done in the Far-East. But even though the price of work was much less, actually the total costs were half of the Hungarian ones, the quality they produced was not on the level of the Hungarian producers’. How many people do work for you? I have been giving work for more than 300 people for 11 years. I am very proud that all the works are done in Hungary. The insoles are made in Hungary and we have connections with innovative up-coming firms. In an interview in 2007 you said that your export was 10 % of your overall trade that you intended to triple in a year with the help of your young colleagues? Did you triple the volume of your export? Yes we did, however I must admit that probably I overvalued the capacity of my young colleagues. So I did it with another team. How do you choose your team? I must admit that I do it through my family and through friends of friends of friends. Also, the situation has been turned and now my family members work for me and not the other way. I have one person whom I absolutely trust, who is the brand manager, Zsuzsa Héjas, whom I sort of have been ”convincing” for years, to come to work from me and quit her former employer, to our great advantage. Throughout these years I myself had to learn to dare to delegate work which leaves me more time for my own developing, learning, and being creative. I go to exhibitions, watch the trends.
Do you follow the trends and the latest developments because you think of your future expansion, development as well? Yes, of course. Actually, we have several new inventions and technologies. I think our next jump will be implementing a new technology with which we will be able to map and measure individual feet and prepare individualized insoles accordingly. Did you know that your footprint is as individual as your fingerprint? You step onto a pressure plate, and the structure of your foot, ankle, all details can be studied. You should also answer a few questions that show up on a touch screen, and we can prepare your individual insole by evaluating the picture and the answers. We bought a whole set of know-how from Italy. Two years ago I though it would take 3-4 months to develop the whole system and begin the production. We are still not done. It demands a serious transformation within the company. We still have a lot to do, and it will be minimum half a year from now that the slippers with these insoles can be tested and sold in selected shops. We will be able to produce individual insoles that can be put into any type of shoes. This will be a system that can make a breakthrough and can be competitive internationally as well.
Lilla Valkó, a former IBS student’s career path was featured in Nők Lapja Évszakok 2014 Tavasz. Read the translation of the article below. There are people who break with the...
There are people who break with the common study plan already as a teenager. Lilla Valkó, at the age of seventeen, in a framework of a scholarship program, got an opportunity to gain experience in USA. She spent a year in California, where she did her final exam and got accepted to university. However, she decided to move backhome to continue her studies surrounded by friends and family. “Back at home I faced the fact that I either make my American degree accredited or I choose from those two courses where my degree was accepted. I decided to take the latter option. For two years, I was studying law at Pázmány University, later reconsidering my plans, I changed in favor of IBS’s finance program.” It was important for Lilla to enrich her knowledge and international experience. In order to achieve her goals, she applied for a year long Erasmus scholarship in Madrid, where she also got a degree after two and a half year of long hard work. Following her return she graduated from IBS and in 2011 she moved to Brussels, where she obtained a master diploma in diplomacy with protocol specialization. Profiting from the experience and knowledge gained during these years, Lilla is now working as a cultural and art manager. “Already as a teenager,I wished not just to get familiar with other cultures, but also to explore them deeply. It was an advantage that I have been abroad for a longer time at a very young age, because people are much more open at this stage. Itscolorfulnessis what makes the world a beautiful place and its diversity makes it a whole, a complete entity. During my cultural explorations, it was always important that my base would be at home, becauseonly by connecting with your roots can you get strength and refresh. The distance on the other hand helps me to better judge and also to recognize the values we have here.”
IBS alumni Dorottya Vass and Veronika Csente, alias Prémecz sisters, are talking about their business success. How did you get involved in NU Skin, a company selling anti-aging...
IBS alumni Dorottya Vass and Veronika Csente, alias Prémecz sisters, are talking about their business success. How did you get involved in NU Skin, a company selling anti-aging cosmetic products exclusively through the internet in 52 countries? We met the company 7 years ago. At the time we had already finished our studies for some years and we were looking into different options. We set up our own media company, we did publishing and we also came up what we called, Patients’ Health Documentation Folder that we distributed in hospitals. All the three of us, we have a brother as well, were working on this product. Actually, our brother has now a web-design company that grew out form this project. We also tried to get into the business of tourist services, restaurants, anything that seemed to be financially rewarding. We had all kinds of undertakings. The two of us, we, the sisters, have always been thinking about selling promotional options for companies. However, we had to realize early on that this required investments, a lot of money, which we did not have. Neither did we have the know-how, to be honest, about how to build up a company. We have never been employees and we never wanted to be. We wanted to be the master of our own workforce and time. Do you have a family tradition to get into business and avoid being employees? Not really. However, the way we grew up is the reason why we are like that. Our mother was still at university when she already had three kids, and due to the unexpected twist and turns of life, she brought up three kids on her own. She wanted to give us everything so she worked a lot and she also expected us to work and contribute to the family finances. So we did everything together, we worked in the market in Szeged where we were brought up. She is a doctor, a psychiatrist. She decided to stay at the university after her studies and she was working all the time at the side. Wherever she saw an option for work, she took it. She sold at the market place, she did everything possible and this influenced the family spirit. We too have been working all the time, even after school and on holidays. Why did you choose IBS? Honestly, because we did not have any idea what we wanted to do. We saw IBS and it seemed to leave ways open for us, we also had good English. All three of us studied in the US. Our mother saw an advertisement that “everybody’s child can study in the US”, she thought if that is so, then, my kids should go. So, she really went after it, and first my brother, then my sister and eventually I went to a student exchange program. With IBS, we made the right choice, we loved the school. IBS was the first school where teaching was something like we grew up with, working in teams, cooperate, sharing knowledge. We liked our teachers, with some of them, we are still in touch. We use the presentation skills that we learnt at IBS a lot in our business right now. We learnt things that we teach now.IBS is a private university and it may have been difficult for your mother to pay the tuition fee for the two of you. How could you manage the payments? Paying the tuition fee was a “team work”, we the family did it together. We learnt to try to reach everything we wanted.
What are you doing exactly in Nu Skin? We are introducing Nu skin to people and get them involved. Unlike other companies that sell through a network, we have a structure, a technology. Nu Skin’s main product is a concept. This means that if you build up a business network in three to five years, then you will have an income from this structure. This is our main task. The concept is that you can have a high quality income. We are focusing on the entrepreneurs, we do not have to do anything with the product, we are not selling it. We are showing people how they can become leaders and how they can have time and money freedom by building an international business network. We are looking for people who would like to change their lives and we are helping them by showing how it can be done. Nu Skin is actually looking for entrepreneurs and we show them what they can show to others. We are partners of the company. The company is doing the job for you. Marketing is our job and the company is paying us a fee. The company has consumable products and we connect the company with people. Some say they want to be a customers, some that they want to have a high quality life, and they want to become entrepreneurs themselves. We make our living through a concept. Everybody decides what she wants. We sell a system to them.
Could you explain in what ways you became especially successful? Everybody is beginning from the bottom. We quickly understood that we need to find 12 people whose businesses will generate 3000 Euro sales volume per month to fully utilize the compensation plan. This 3000 is made from customers who consume the products directly from Nu Skin. We found approximately 30-40 customers in 2007-2008. Since then we do not need do anything in our business. It generates a passive income. In order to move on, we decided with my sister, that we will find 12 entrepreneurs around us who would do the same as us. For 7 months we worked really hard, we did not sleep, we approached people. Eventually, we managed to do what nobody else did in Europe until that time. In 7 months we reached the top. We received the prize of “Women Entrepreneurs of the Year 2008”.
Our motivation came from our mother. We saw our mom working hard for 30 years. We appreciate that and admire her, but we also knew that we were not strong enough to do the same. We wanted security, an income to raise our kids in well-being, to have time and spend that time with our family.
Is your private life connected to Nu Skin? Yes. We both met our husbands in the business and the greatest thing is that we can do every part of our lives together with them. Time is the most important thing in life and now we can decide how to spend it and with whom. Nu Skin products helped a lot to get our families healthier and live a more valuable life. So we can say that what we have dreamt of, we made come true! We also think it important that we give back something to society. We do charity work to help children, we organized Christmas Eves in the prison of juveniles and we have a team of entrepreneurs who support a children’s food program and people with multiple handicaps.