A number of Australian MBA students are in the running to score a spot in the finals of the prestigious Hult Prize and a chance at $US1 million in start-up funding for their idea.
Each year, the Hult Prize challenges participants to develop solutions to one of the world’s most pressing social issues. The theme of the 2013 event is global food security and will focus on how to get safe, sufficient, affordable and easily accessible food to the 200 million people who live in urban slums – a challenge personally selected by former US President Bill Clinton. Student teams will be charged with developing a sustainable social venture that can accomplish the objective by 2018.
The annual challenge is the world’s largest student competition and one of the world’s leading crowdsourcing platforms for social good. Australian students enter via a global on-line competition with the winner joining regional winners from Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai.
Current Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) MBA students Des Viranna, Stephane Verhaeghe, Coco Liu, Dimitry Tran and Belinda Pratten (right) are competing for the prize with their entry ‘Good Food’.
“Coming from an MBA perspective, we wanted to create an idea that is commercially viable and scalable to 200 million people quickly. Our idea is to bring the convenience and health benefits of retort-packed meals from the western market to the slum dwellers who need it most,” says Dimitry Tran.
The group’s research found that instant noodles is the most popular food product worldwide with 90 billion packs consumed globally each year. While affordable and convenient for slum dwellers, instant noddles lack nutritional value.
The group’s idea was to create a product that is as affordable and convenient as instant noodles with adequate nutrition.
“While shopping in Asia, I noticed a ‘Curry Chicken with Rice’ food pack on the shelf. The product was made by a company in India, using the retort pouch technology, which keeps a cooked meal fresh for 18 months without refrigeration or preservatives. Our further research showed that the technology was invented by the US Army to replace food canning,” says Dimitry.
“Most of the food packs on the market today are made in Asian countries and exported to Western countries at a retail price of $3-$5 each. By reverse engineering the financial data of a listed company that manufacture this food pack, we found that the pack is manufactured at below 50 cents. And most of the mark-up to retail price goes to shipping, marketing, packaging and profits.”
The Hult Prize is funded by Swedish Entrepreneur and Founder of EF Education First, Bertil Hult and sponsored by the Hult International Business School and run in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative.
You can view the AGSM entries on YouTube: