Business idea to help farmers move to organic wins investment for student

A business that provides a dedicated label of quality for farms in the process of becoming organic has won a prestigious competition for student entrepreneurs.

The Royal Agricultural University’s (RAU) 12th Grand Idea competition, sponsored by Strutt and Parker and Harrison Clark Rickerbys Law Firm, asked students to pitch their plans to expert judges to secure £2,500 of investment.

Winner Constantin Huet, a third-year Real Estate student, faced the impressive panel including Levi Roots, of Reggae Reggae Sauce; Christine Cross, former group business development Director at Tesco; Dave Meneer, former chief executive of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant, and the RAU’s vice-chancellor, Prof. Joanna Price.

Pre-O

Huet found success with his company Pre-O, a new badge of quality for farms undergoing the lengthy transition to becoming fully organic.

Through the scheme ‘pre-organic’ foods will be able to charge a slightly higher price than non-organic, giving the consumer greater choice.

Huet, who is from Switzerland, said: “Our revolutionary business model, unlike other agricultural certification schemes, does not charge farmers. Farmers subscribe free of any charge – no strings attached.

“Pre-O is beneficial to the consumer who perhaps can’t pay regularly for high-end organic produce, and beneficial to the farmer who is in the ‘organic-transition’ period yet suffering from non-organic prices.

Until now, no outright ‘pre-organic’ offering has existed in the food market. We are making that change.

“I love life at the RAU. I’m humbled to win this award as the competition was so strong from the other students. The Enterprise Programme here is second to none.

“They were willing to guide me through every step of my journey to becoming an entrepreneur. The range of mentoring and networking is outstanding – and competitions like today are just one part of that.”

Runner-up Maria Perry impressed the judges with her GLITTAGLO eyewear business, which makes and markets designer sunglasses.

Katy Duke, head of enterprise at RAU, said: “There were some absolutely inspirational ideas to choose from this year.

“Our recent survey found that 88% of RAU students want to start their own business, so entrepreneurship is right at the heart of what we do here.”