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Strathclyde students take coffee revolution to the USA

By Dominic Chalmers - Posted on 18 April 2013

Dominic Chalmers, lecturer at the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, looks at an enterprising team of students’ attempts to break America in an international competition…

Five students from Strathclyde Business School are this week preparing to present an innovative business plan to turn used coffee into fertiliser at an international social enterprise competition in the USA.

‘Team Revive’ are heading to the Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition at the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center at TCU, Texas. They’re one of 28 teams from 28 universities from around the world looking to claim a share of total prize money of $43,000.

And they’ve got a great idea which could potentially revolutionise the way large coffee chains and independent retailers dispose of used coffee grounds. The team want to recycle used coffee as a soil fertiliser – which is perfect for acidity-loving crops like tomatoes. Revive have developed a business model with a new three-part supply chain.

• Grounds are collected daily from all coffee retailers in the city centre and west-end of Glasgow
• Grounds are dried out and packaged before being distributed to garden centres and community gardens across the central belt
• A percentage of profit generated from each pack of fertiliser will be donated to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a charity seeking to halt the declining population of bees in the UK

I think Revive have come up with a great idea which offers a unique and highly attractive selling proposition for gardeners. Given that coffee grounds are a safe and chemical free alternative to some other commercial fertilisers  their product is not only good for crops, but it also helps to protect the ecosystem.

This competition is a fantastic opportunity for our students who will be competing against rivals from around the world. The team will be presenting their idea in front of a panel of 32 judges which will be an experience in itself. Whatever the result the fact Strathclyde was invited to attend means that all those involved will gain a far deeper insight into the business process and in an international setting.

Companies need to adapt to survive and prosper now and having employees with an entrepreneurial bent can only be a good thing. By giving young professionals the chance to learn early we will help foster a new generation of dynamic entrepreneurs. The Values and Ventures event is just part of that journey.

Have you had a similar experience of taking part in an international competition or as a social entrepreneur? Get in touch and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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