Featured Alumnus: Kamal Hotchandani ’92
Every once in a while at Avon, we encounter a student who knows exactly what he wants to do and where he wants to go in life. Alumnus Kamal Hotchandani ’92 seems to have been one of those driven young men.
Today, Kamal’s LinkedIn profile summary reads, ‘Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Strong business development professional skilled in Online Advertising, Advertising, Business Development, Marketing Strategy, and Marketing. Relationship driven CEO.’ When we asked him where it all began, he told us: “It started at Avon.”
As a youngster living in Belize, Kamal came to New England in search of the best schools. He attended a boarding school in upstate New York from the time he was nine years old, and then visited Avon Old Farms School when it came time to investigate potential high schools.
“I was fortunate to have the experience of two of my first cousins attended Avon before I did: Heman Bhojwani was just one year ahead of me, and another cousin was there six years before,” Kamal shared. “I visited a few other schools, but was already confident I would attend Avon Old Farms because of my family’s history.”
Like many Avonians, KamaI fell in love with Avon’s beautiful campus, met warm and caring teachers, and immediately established connections in the dorms. He shared that with friends like Mr. Narsipur around, he felt at home from the very start.
Just a few months into his Avon experience, Kamal had a starring role in Avon’s famed Boar’s Head Festival as the ‘youngest boy’ who bears a single lit candle at the beginning of the procession to the head table, bringing light to the rest of the Refectory.
“I was a lot smaller and younger than everyone else—in fact, I almost had to be the youngest boy the second time around my sophomore year.”
In addition to his role as the youngest boy, Kamal also participated in squash, tennis, and hockey while at Avon.
“I recall that the Gordon family supported Avon in creating a new ice rink, and it was a true gift to be able to participate in that,” Kamal said. “As a kid with Indian heritage who grew up in the Carribean, learning to skate and play hockey was an unforgettable experience.”
Kamal also was a member of WAOF and the Young Republicans Club.
“It was Avon’s WAOF station that first introduced thoughts in my head about mass media and how it can make an impact on society. Avon taught me at a young age that I could be an active player in my world and work to get involved.”
Kamal also had an innate business savvy about him - perhaps inspired by his entrepreneurial parents - and took it upon himself to earn some money only to put it back to use.
“I would create t-shirts featuring the winged beaver while I was home, and brought them back to campus to sell to my classmates,” he explained. “I would then use my profits to buy pizza for the dorm. Of course, that helped me meet a lot more people on campus. I knew I wouldn’t ever be a star athlete like some of the big guys on campus, but I did want to befriend them. The shirts were just one way I thought I could help start that relationship.”
Kamal continued to say that he learned more at Avon than anywhere else; the ability to be independent in a new environment was huge.
“Of course I had experience at a boarding school before, but Avon was different,” he said. “It was a time to sink or swim, and I took that opportunity to showcase my competitive nature through entrepreneurship. At Avon, I learned the power of relationships. Looking back, that was the key.”
After four years at Avon, Kamal matriculated to Boston University where he studied international relations.
“Avon instilled in me a love of hockey, and a love of New England. Boston University was another New England school with an international population, but was very cosmopolitan. I gained friends from all over just like at Avon.”
While at Boston University working on a degree in international relations, Kamal was acutely aware of the world around him and how it was quickly changing—primarily with the internet going public in 1994. While still at BU, Kamal began to exercise his relational and networking skills to take advantage of the emerging market.
“With a basic understanding in media and relations, I could see that there was a big change coming,” he said. “I started visiting lawyers’ offices and working in between classes. That segued into my first business, AMG.”
AMG (Advanced Multimedia Group), which was an internet company with a focus on investments in the emerging markets in technology space. AMG grew to a market capitalization of $40 million, with over $12 million in venture capital raised. Kamal spent nearly a decade working on building the platform, before exiting to allow a shift to his next venture. He also started OKG (Official Kiosk Group) and ICC (Internet Communication Center), both of which became subsidiaries of AMG.
“The IT and software field was productive, but it was not as fun as the media business. So I set a goal of building a traditional off-line brand and migrating it online for the luxury market, a space I have been passionate about since I was a kid. In 2005, I once again used my skills and merchant mentality to begin work on Haute Media Group.”
While Kamal had an understanding of the luxury landscape, as a startup he had to demonstrate results to gain the support of the high-end brands he needed to secure as partners. Once more, the relational skills he honed at Avon came into play:
“I was able to talk myself into one small test at a time. One example was my partnership with Rolls-Royce. I got them to agree to do a small media buy—just a few thousand dollars—and promised a return. Our magazine helped sell a few million dollars in inventory. That was a great example of showcasing from the start a great ROI. All I had was an idea and some relationships, but with consistent results, I was able to leverage relationships into sales.”
Today, Kamal lives in Miami with his fiance Deyvanshi and is CEO of Haute Media Groups, which includes Haute Residence (a luxury real estate platform), Haute Time (watches and jewelry), Haute Agency (experiential marketing), and Haute Living, a series of luxury lifestyle publications, with bimonthly regional editions in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco.
“With a strong focus on unstoppable power players and business moguls in addition to curated toys for boys—from private jets, yachts, cars, timepieces, and beyond—the magazine is the definitive guide to life’s finer things,” reads the Haute Living media guide.
Of course, when you’re the head of a company focused on luxury brands, you start to engage celebrities who use them. From throwing a welcome party for the Miami Heat’s newest forward Jimmy Butler two days before the team’s season opener, to celebrating Julian Edleman’s Super Bowl MVP title and honoring producer Quincy Jones on the Haute-100 list, Kamal has been there to ensure his brand is, well, on-brand.
While enjoying all of his successes, Kamal is still true to his Avonian roots. When we asked the last time he was back on Avon’s campus, he responded that he was here just two years ago to celebrate the opening of his classmate’s new lab on campus, the Volk Family Computer Lab.
“When I was on campus a couple of years ago, it was an unbelievable experience,” he said. “I was able to reconnect with friends who I had of course been in touch with via social media, but being back in the same place together was magic. Seeing guys like Chris Volk and hearing what he’s been involved with at Google is incredible.”
He also said that, thanks to social media and putting a priority on staying connected, he’s partnered with some classmates as vendors and has enjoyed keeping the Avonian brotherhood alive.
“Avon lends itself to being a tight network because our class was so small—it’s a wasted opportunity not to capitalize on the relationships we’ve had all of our lives.”
We couldn’t agree more. To that end, we’d like to remind all Avonians that Avon has created avonoldfarmsalumni.com with the goal of assisting alumni in reconnecting and networking, and of course, invite you to save the date for the 2020 Reunion Weekend May 15 through May 17!