Interview with Karl Weber - 'Just IMAGINE if…' finalist
A new business competition with a prize worth £75,000 was launched by Henley Business School, the University of Reading and Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen. The competition gave 10 finalists who had a sustainable business idea the opportunity to present it to a judging panel of business leaders, academics, social innovators and entrepreneurs.
Karl Weber, MBA alumni, was one of the finalists with his idea to revolutionise urban farming in South Africa.
The finalists were all paired with a business leader or entrepreneur who coached and supported them in the development and presentation of their idea ahead of the event held in the Thames Valley Science Park at the end of February 2019. The finalists all pitched their ideas to an invited business audience, and the winner was announced at a Gala Dinner in the evening.
Whilst Karl did not win the overall prize, we are proud of his achievement against very stiff competition. We spoke with him afterwards about his time at Henley, and the competition.
How did you find you time studying with Henley, and what was your research project on?
"This was over 20 years ago! I enjoyed it, but at the time I was travelling over 150 working days per year and had a young family of 4 children so it’s a bit of a blur. I found the course work less onerous, but given my work demands really had to dig deep to complete the dissertation. My project was on the challenges in leadership behaviour faced by both management and unions in a newly democratising South Africa; this was in the run up to Mandela's release and a very different social, economic and political landscape post apartheid SA."
Could you explain ‘Plot to Plate’, your competition entry for just IMAGINE if…
"The Plot to Plate Mobile Application (P2P App) is mobile technology that will enable vegetable growers (urban/peri-urban/small-holding/cooperative farmers) to link directly with potential buyers (individuals, food processing factories, restaurants) and vice versa, with the aim of revolutionising the supply chain from grower (however small) to buyer. It is revolutionary because it will provide 'leapfrog' technology to empower small growers to access the market directly as well as enabling related enterprise such as delivery/logistics. The P2P App is not an online shop like Farmdrop (UK online store) which advertises produce at a set price. It is mobile tech that enables local trade and transport."
Where would you like to see the project in 5 years time?
"P2P Application fully embedded in SA. At least 500,000 users actively trading in SA, and potentially the P2P App being used in other countries including UK/EU and developing countries."
We're looking forward to seeing more of Plot to Plate in the future!