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Craft Capital Partners – a Capstone Project success story

From business plan to business reality – into Africa

When Daniel Nuedling describes his TRIUM experience as “life changing,” he is not leaning on hyperbole.

He and three of his classmates—Luigi Stravino, Paul Carreiro, and Diarmuid Smyth—are living demonstrations of the program’s abilities to transform students’ professional trajectories and of the Capstone project’s potential to springboard them to the next level of their careers.

It began in 2016, when Luigi Stravino observed a need for equipment financing to African small to medium enterprises who work in the resource, agricultural and infrastructure sectors. He gathered the team to propose the idea as a Capstone project during Module One at the London School of Economics.  The team quickly agreed that the idea was robust enough for a Capstone and also identified a need in the market, which could push the project beyond theoretical vision and give it real-world legs.

“As it is the case for many TRIUMERS, probably all of us wanted to take the next step of our respective professional paths by leaving TRIUM with a tangible project. The Capstone project concept was one of the most important motivations to join TRIUM in the first place,” Daniel says. “The project was meant to be a real-life venture from the get-go. All founding partners are experienced business-people and have a profound academic track record.”

Caterpillar trucks funded by Craft Capital

The team spent seventeen months fine-tuning their business plan for Craft Capital Partners and coordinating schedules and deadlines around one another’s business travels to London, New York, Ireland, Japan, South Africa and Canada.

“It truly was a microcosm of what TRIUM represents: a unique exchange of varied ideas, background, skills, and world views,” Luigi says of his globally-based team.

Navigating the business environment of Sub-Saharan Africa—including becoming familiar with local cultural and regulatory issues—from afar presented a learning curve for the team. They credit TRIUM’s international modules and the curriculum’s global focus as factors that helped steer them through these challenges.

“The geo-political trends we covered in the London Module were extremely beneficial in assisting in understanding the context and influences on country-level markets. The specific areas of coverage we covered in classes on Africa and the changing demographics, the local challenges and the opportunities helped fill in the gaps in the team’s own knowledge base,” Diarmuid says.

Paul adds: “The vast variety of topics presented by academic and business experts alike fostered a global perspective to get a much deeper understanding of how business, politics, academia, and social developments are intertwined. Therefore, TRIUM added a whole range of skillsets that benefitted the set up and running of Craft Capital Partners.”

The team also tapped into the expertise of the faculty, who offered indispensable guidance and critical questioning around strategy and international operations, which helped them fine tune their plans prior to launch.

The intensity of building a business while committed to the coursework of the program and their professional lives was a challenge, the team admits, and they relied on the soft skills that the program helps to develop: patience, vision, discipline, a growth-mindset, and, as Daniel says: “keeping a sense of humor.”

“The intensity of TRIUM while the team ran our own businesses was challenging, let alone planning another new start up. It speaks volumes to the ability and commitments of the classmates to not only handle the pressures of learning across multiple time-zones but also keep the focus on launching a new business in Sub Saharan Africa,” Daniel says.

By graduation, the Craft Capital Partners team not only received a top mark for the Capstone—and won the inaugural Capstone Cup—they also secured their first round of funding of $25 million dollars. Since then, they have successfully inked a number of multi-million-dollar finance deals, and they only have plans continue to grow.

“We are planning to scale Craft Capital Partners beyond the existing framework and leverage funding outside of the existing channels. With our proven track record and broad network on both ends of the value chain, we are confident to offer very attractive investment opportunities for global investors who seek to diversify their portfolio toward the uprising African market with triple billion digit investment volumes for the years to come,” Daniel says. “The market opportunities continue to grow, and the team sees Craft as a long-term viable business growing in the years ahead into a market leader in our field.”

The success of Craft Capital Partners is a prime example of how students can leverage their classroom experience, cohort-networking opportunities and access to world-class global faculty into real-world business success.

Daniel agrees and says: “Blending the academic learning with the opportunity to implement a business opportunity is what makes the TRIUM EMBA so great.”