South East Food Hub is a partnership of half-a-dozen or so local farmers, organic & conventional involved in producing a diverse range of local food from fruit & veg, beef, milk & yogurt and apple juice. And crucially two entrepreneurs involved in warehousing and distribution.
Melbourne University's VEIL team (Victoria Eco Innovation Lab) worked up a concept facility housing a shop, warehouse, kitchens and processing areas for local farmers & food entrepreneurs to sell their wares directly to consumers. The idea being to offer a drive-in centre for people commuting from the suburbs.
As the next step after co-designing the physical hub, the team have been working in partnership with the growers to test out the concept of working together. Our Skype discussions over the months confirmed the groups thinking that they just need to try it out.
This rather gung-ho approach is how we started Manchester Veg People. Write the business plan and look to secure start-up investment once the partnership is in place and the concept has been tried out. Its not what you are told to do by business advisers and this rather unconventional method is quite nerve racking but it has many advantages.
Firstly you start a business culture off on an enterprising trajectory: This is such a good idea and needs to happen, we will find a way to make it work.
Secondly, too many good ideas stall once the feasibility study, business plan, market research & detailed cash-flow & costings are perfected. The step from all that paperwork to starting the business is just too big, people either freeze in terror or get bogged down in raising funds.
And raising funds - the next stage in the traditional series of events of getting a business up and running results in a group being too dependent on grants or refining the business model to meet an investors requirements.
Start it, if it works the right funding will materialise and you start lean and continue with the enterprising passion that has been nurtured during the 'pilot'.
And this is what the SE Food Hub have done. Ill say much more about this in my next blog.