School of Business and Management

Alumni Profile - Katherine and Philippe

Katherine Lachance Lavergne and Philippe Larose Cadieux are Co-Founders of Artbox a social marketing agency that focuses on social responsibility by creating a social impact for clients to obtain their objectives. Based in Montreal, Canada, Artbox work with small businesses and international companies. Find out more about their career  and SBM experiences here. 

 

 1. Our role…

is shared but collaborative. Philippe pitches to clients and thinks about how we can make our ideas happen, undertakes research and concept creation and business development and is technology savvy. Katherine as the CEO makes the ideas happen, transforms ideas into a business plan campaigns and also undertakes accounting and finance of the business.

2. Our BSc Business Management degree helped with Artbox as…

it enabled us to think differently, criticise society, how it works and how we can change it to make it better. Moreover we learned how to become business managers and entrepreneurs. We were told in our first lecture that “at Queen Mary we want to create the next generation of CEO’s”. The teachers were really aspirational and helped us get inspired to change our world. Moreover because the School is international, we worked with different people from different countries and learned different values and rules of society. The language as well taking English, French and Spanish. Here is more philosophical as we learned how to think and how we can change society for a better world as this provided us with a strong foundation and all the aspects of creating and nurturing a business such as Marketing, HR and International Business.

However, the response to Artbox has been very positive. We answer to a need right now. People do not react to traditional marketing anymore especially millennials. They don’t feel connected to a logo, ask more from companies and want to be implicated within their society. As millennials, we want companies to collaborate and want to see action not just words. Consumers want companies to help society innovate and moderate. Companies want to reach their consumers and employees to be positioned as a social company.  In Canada, at present there is a problem with employment and it’s more difficult to retain millennial employees because they change jobs annually.

3. The greatest achievement we have faced at Artbox…

 is the actual model. Artbox started as an alternative way of financing art. That what Artbox was about in the beginning; marketing with art. We had a vision of different boxes, sport box, education box, food box, so we put this under one umbrella. To actually find a way where companies join forces and are both winning and can benefit from each other is the best achievement of Artbox. Companies know they want to collaborate with the community but don’t know how they will get a positive return on investment from that. That’s what we are at Artbox, we link companies with driving forces.

and the greatest challenge…

letting four employees go at the beginning of the year as our projects are so tailor made we do not need a designated social media or PR as most of our clients we work with in-house usually have someone to do publicity and social media, so we did a shift to work with freelancers and agencies who are specialist in our field. It’s what you have to do when you’re an entrepreneur and have a small start-up you need to think what can I do to grow further? We have an innovative model and we have to educate people about our model. Every time we see a client we have to educate them first before we work with them. This is why we are doing conferences and working with other universities as we have this new model we want to educate people about. We are also doing Artbox launches where we invite CEO’s and VP’s from big companies from Montreal. Another challenge is finding someone in an organisation that can say I want this because we used to go from the bottom up but it’s better to go from the top (CEO) down. We had a member of staff who would cold call clients, set up meetings but we got very little return from this and this was a slow process. The CEO’s have a vision from their stakeholders, employees and investors. The CEO’s we work with want to promote their companies as social but do not know how to do that so we provide this solution. Then they can talk to other departments and say they want to work with Artbox. Because we are leaner on our structuring, we can take more risks.

4. Our advice to someone wanting to start their own business is…

do something you love because if you don’t love it, you won’t enjoy it. We work 7 days a week, 10 hours a day and at least 60 hours a week each. As we are at the beginning, we have to put in the hours but you have to be passionate about what you do. When you find meaning with your work it helps.

5. We choose to study at the School of Business and Management…

as Philippe had experience in running a holiday camp business which we ended up working together on. We also used to sell cars. This gave us the first taste of business so this is why we chose to study Business Management.

6. What we enjoyed most about studying at School of Business and Management…

Was the international community, the critical thinking - we have friends from everywhere Italy, London and France and we have kept in contact with them.  To live in this city as a tourist and citizen you get to see everything. 

7. Our most memorable student experience…

has to be the first week when we they organised drinks for the new students and newcomers. We could talk English but to talk to people with an English accent was very stressful. The first two weeks we would come home drained. But this social it was everyone’s reality at that point when we realised everyone had that same fear but those disappeared as everyone was in a similar situation.

8. Our favourite place on campus…

Ground Coffee Shop. We would study there to meet our friends, eat, study because we could do everything there it was our favourite spot.

9. Our Interests and hobbies are…

sports, skiing in winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer. We also like music Philippe is a music producer.

10. In the next five years we hope to…

make Artbox international; we want clients in London and Belgium and Europe. These are two markets we are looking at the moment and having partnerships with companies in London.  We want people to think about social marketing and have investments in other social marketing startups as we want to diverse our portfolio.

 

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