Kogod School of Business Students Gain Practical Learning Experience with Alumna-Led Firm

Undergraduate and graduate students worked with alumna author and entrepreneur to develop marketing, crowdfunding, and financing strategies for her company Spice Journeys.

Cindia Luest

Kogod alumna Cindia Luest


 

Have you ever wondered what it would take to turn your vision into a reality? For most entrepreneurs, their business begins with an idea. Kogod international business alumna Cindia Luest found a way to create an entirely new business concept through innovation, imagination, and applying her business experience. After having worked in consulting and management for organizations like the United Nations and Swiss Banks, Luest now combines her love for storytelling, cuisine, and travel into an immersive experience that brings art to life. With the help of Kogod students participating as consultants in the hands-on learning opportunity, Kogod in Practice pro bono consulting projects, Luest is now ready for the world to find out about and participate in Spice Journeys.

“I found out about Kogod in Practice through an alumni event that brought AU alumni living in Europe together,” explains Luest. 

 

I have always supported mentorship programs and firmly believe that bringing academia and business together with hands-on learning will only enhance connection and results.”

Cindia Luest

Cindia Luest

Kogod Alumna and Founder of Spice Journeys

“Kogod facilitated an enriching experience for us to engage with a founder, delivering the opportunity to learn from Cindia’s vision, wins, challenges, and determination to scale her business,” says Kogod finance student Jack Goryl. “This wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for the tools and skills that Kogod’s professors and experiential learning opportunities provided.”

By engaging with Kogod students on two three-month pro bono consulting projects, Luest built significantly on her strategies and plans for marketing, crowdfunding, and financing initiatives. Kogod MS in finance student Yash Singh became so involved during the first consulting project, where he served as a consultant on the team, that he stayed on with Spice Journeys in-between projects to further add value. He then joined the second consulting team of students to serve as an engagement manager. “The consistency and dedication helped the new team stay focused and deliver value,” says Luest.

Now, Luest is focusing on her next big plans—releasing the “Culinary / Art book” that accompanies her first novel, “The Spice Temple—The Journey Begins.” She will use the recommendations from the Kogod in Practice student teams to run a crowdfunding campaign to produce the book and use social media to promote sales of the book.

"Collecting and analyzing Spice Journeys’ social media data proved to be an exciting challenge as an analyst consultant! We identified key performance indicators and built models and templates for more efficient marketing strategies,” says Kogod MS in analytics student Connor Rubenstein.

The Kogod in Practice program helped Luest take things further with her business and reconnect with American University. She created new relationships and is collaborating with other alums interested in international business expansion.

Being an entrepreneur, you get used to finding solutions to diverse problems every day and bring partners in to help as needed. So, it was an absolute joy to work on solutions with the Kogod in Practice student-consultants and get the perspectives of bright young minds.”

Cindia Luest

Cindia Luest

Kogod Alumna and Founder of Spice Journeys

Luest plans to expand her first novel, “The Spice Temple,” into a six-part series with shorter related works. She is working with producers on a dramatized podcast and film projects and is looking forward to developing an app to expand the audio-visual experience. Luest hopes that through novel experiences and sensory storytelling audiences will connect differently and ultimately feel empowered to join her in supporting initiatives for positive change in the literacy, entrepreneurship, environmental, and food-related fields.