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GIM trip spurs business insights — and a business — through Sasin partnership
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GIM trip spurs business insights — and a business — through Sasin partnership

Kellogg students Makiko Yamashita, Iris Yen and Annie Moon (all '08) wanted to develop a social venture in Southeast Asia after visiting the region on a GIM trip. The trio parlayed their collective experience — including with agribusiness and NGOs — into Wine with a Passion, a business that offers premium wine made from tropical fruits harvested by small-scale rural farmers. Rather than compete with the world's vast market of grape wine producers, this company looks to create a line of high-end, moderately priced Thai wines from fruits like mangosteen, pineapple, lychee, dragon fruit and mango. The business model is designed to fill a market void: Most Thai restaurants lack a native wine option to pair with the spicy cuisine. In addition to restaurants in the United States and Japan, the company is targeting more than 14 million tourists who flock to Thailand annually.

The venture took shape only after Yamashita and Moon spent time in Thailand as exchange students at the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulalongkorn University, a Kellogg partner for more than two decades. The students tapped Sasin's extensive network of alumni and business professionals, also gaining insights from the school's faculty. Two Sasin classmates played a part in developing Wine with a Passion too, especially Salin Nimmanahaeminda, a former financial analyst who helped design the venture's financial model. The team earned high marks in several business competitions, including Thailand's only global venture challenge, making the semifinals and earning distinction for "Best Presentation."

For the students, their GIM experience and time at Sasin has been invaluable. "I loved Sasin," said Moon. "Its culture is similar to Kellogg in that both schools embody a spirit of cooperation, community and fun. After four months, I walk away with incredible memories and new friends." — Nick Pisalyaput, head of special projects, Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration.

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