We are thrilled to launch our first annual pitch competition, Quantic Moonshot, where our Executive MBA students get to showcase their game-changing ideas and business innovations. Our judges have narrowed down the teams to five finalists, who will all be competing to win the grand-prize.
One of the five finalist teams, Outgrowers, has the potential to disrupt the current supply chain of coffee by promoting fairer and more efficient trade.
Outgrowers Moonshot Business Pitch
Outgrowers, a next-gen Web3 coffee sourcing platform, is creating a direct B2B digital marketplace platform that allows for digital transactions between customers and farmers, integrating logistics, storage, finance and insurance services from producers to roasters. The platform aims to eliminate the unnecessary layers of costs in the supply chain by utilizing AI for demand forecasting, IoT for yield and crop improvement, and blockchain for traceability of the bean’s journey from farm to cup.
Outgrowers solves the core problem of the current inefficient and fragmented coffee supply chain, which is based on outdated 19th-century practices. This results in poor value distribution lacking transparency, reduces bean quality and exploits farmers and the environment. Outgrowers replaces the central aggregators that add extra costs and fragment the supply chain, creating a more streamlined and transparent system.
The primary use case for Outgrowers is to become the #1 ethical B2B digital marketplace of high-quality Arabica beans with a personal touch, putting the farmer, quality, and customer first, from farm to cup. The platform allows roasters (customers) to find key information about the coffee beans, including their origin, quality, and producers. The stories of the farming communities where the coffee has been carefully hand-picked and processed are gathered by Outgrowers’ local team, which works on the ground in Ethiopia, building relationships with smallholder farmers and ensuring transparency. Outgrowers also gives back to these farming communities (producers) through a profit-sharing model, so they can continue to sustain their farms and improve their livelihoods.
Outgrowers plans to launch their MVP in the Gulf region, which is a rapidly growing and underserved area. Specialty consumption is a booming industry in the Middle East, with increasing demand for high-quality specialty coffee beans that have been ethically-sourced and are willing to pay a premium for specialty coffee. They have partnered with a distributor (DMCC Coffee Centre in UAE) to store and supply their ethically-sourced, high-quality coffee beans to local roasters.
Overall, Outgrowers is a promising business that aims to revolutionize the coffee industry through technology and ethical practices. With a tech specialist on their team and a clear Proof-of-Concept, they are well on their way to creating a successful and sustainable business that can make a positive impact on the lives of smallholder farmers and the environment.
Outgrowers Founding Team
Andrew Stratton, General Manager, IRE OIL & GAS FZE, United Arab Emirates
Palvinder Kaur Jeswan Singh, Product Manager, Lyondellbasell, Netherlands
Mesfin Tesfaye Tefera, CEO of Leapfrog Software Technology Africa PLC, Ethiopia
Rizwan Aslam, Co-founder of Satori Effect, United Kingdom & Cambodia
Saher Zafar, Co-Founder of Satori Effect, Cambodia
- Sam Beatson, Economics and Data Consultant and Lecturer, UK Government and Nottingham University, United Kingdom
What inspired you to work on this business?
(SB) Love for great coffee and the elegance and simplicity of the roasting business, holding the industry and supply chains to higher ethical standards, and the opportunity to work with an awesome international team.
(PK) The social aspect of the project, understanding that farmers only get paid 2% of the price of the cup of coffee and that is insufficient to make ends meet living in poverty. For the laborious job, they should be paid fair wages.
(MT) I’ve always loved bringing solutions using technology, and impacting people’s lives to help bring positive change.
(AS) The opportunity to approach a thriving and growing industry with fresh eyes, and to re-think how it can best serve those who provide the biggest contribution to the value chain.
(SZ) Our MBA Capstone project presented us with a unique opportunity to make a real difference in the world. We knew that we wanted to find a problem that could be solved through innovative means, and one that would have a positive impact on people’s lives. As someone who has worked on multiple social impact projects in different countries, I knew that I wanted to find a purpose-driven business that would allow me to apply my skills and make a meaningful contribution to society.
Coffee is a beverage that is loved by people all over the world and is a multi-billion dollar industry. However, despite its massive potential market, we were surprised to discover that the coffee supply chain is complex and outdated, and coffee producers make less than 2% of the profits from their hard work. This is a reality that needs to change. After conducting extensive research and speaking with one of our co-founders, who has firsthand experience with coffee farming in Ethiopia, we realized that there is a significant opportunity to revolutionize the coffee industry through technology and tap into the “fourth wave” of coffee, which seeks to empower underrepresented groups in the coffee sector.
Our team is passionate about solving this problem and disrupting an industry that continues to rely on outdated practices, leading to inefficiencies in the supply chain, wastage, and exploitation. We are determined to create a transparent digital marketplace that can help coffee farmers receive a fairer price for their beans while improving supply chain efficiencies. We are focusing on the smallholder farmers surrounding commercial farms, known as “Outgrowers,” and we aim to bring them to the forefront.
For us, the business is not just about developing a profitable business model; it’s about fulfilling the needs of our customers whilst also creating a positive impact on people’s lives. Our goal is to provide roasters with easy access to sustainably sourced, high-quality coffee beans while simultaneously empowering coffee farmers to help create a more equitable coffee industry. We believe Outgrowers has the potential to drive real change in the coffee industry. By working together, we can create a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and succeed, starting with the coffee farmers who have been overlooked for far too long.
(RA) My inspiration to establish this business alongside my team stemmed from my professional experience as a venture builder. I’ve collaborated closely with start-ups, venture capital firms, and corporate venture builders, offering valuable guidance in launching and scaling their startups. These diverse experiences have provided me with in-depth knowledge and insights into various industries, revealing opportunities for innovation and impact.
Fueled by my passion for driving positive change, I wanted to develop an impactful, market-based solution that tackles supply chain inefficiencies while empowering communities and promoting sustainable development.
Outgrowers is more than a business; it represents a movement characterized by the adoption of disruptive technologies to overhaul traditional operations. Utilizing AI, IoT, and blockchain, we can revolutionize the coffee industry through a demand-driven approach, championing fair trade and enabling coffee farmers to improve their living standards.
Our mission is to redefine the way coffee is sourced and traded, providing greater value to farmers, roasters, and consumers alike. I have faith in the power of technology to create a more transparent and efficient supply chain, ultimately contributing to the global movement towards ethical and sustainable coffee consumption.
What has been the most valuable lesson you learned while working on this project?
(SB) The process of working in a team, division of labor and team building together a full business plan from the ground up.
(PK) Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, leverage upon the strengths of team to drive to an end objective/goal
(MT) The most valuable lesson i learned is that planning requires a lot of details. You should look forward on how you can execute a project before planning. That is key for the execution success.
(AS) No one thing in particular, but more the challenge of coordinating our group meetings with team members spread across the globe.
(SZ) One of the most valuable lessons has been the importance of collaboration, teamwork and good communication throughout the process. We quickly realized that everyone on our team brought unique strengths and perspectives to the table, and that by working together, we could accomplish far more than we ever could have individually. Leveraging each team member’s expertise and knowledge, we identified potential issues and generated a range of ideas. While there were times when team members had differing opinions, we made a point of creating space for communication and sharing perspectives. This allowed us to work together and develop a unified outcome.
A supportive team environment can foster creativity, motivation, and innovation. By collaborating and supporting one another, we could create a positive culture that allowed us to overcome challenges and achieve our goals. Additionally, we recognized the importance of having roles and responsibilities within the team so that everyone understood their contributions.
Over time, we learned and refined our ability to work together, recognizing the critical role of building a strong and cohesive team, and valuing the diversity of perspectives and expertise.
(RA) The most valuable lesson I’ve learned while working on Outgrowers is the incredible power of unity and collaboration. This project has shown us that when passionate individuals come together, driven by a shared vision and purpose, they can truly make a difference in the world.
Through our journey, we’ve encountered numerous challenges – from understanding the intricacies of the coffee industry to experimenting with innovative solutions that can disrupt a centuries-old supply chain. Yet, at every step, we have been inspired and motivated by the people we serve – the farmers, the roasters, and the coffee lovers who believe in a fairer, more transparent, and sustainable future for coffee.
Through teamwork, we have been able to develop a concept that has the potential to transform the lives of coffee farmers and reshape an entire industry. This experience has reinforced our belief in the importance of collaboration, open-mindedness, and empathy – not only within our team but also within the communities we engage with.
As we continue to test our Outgrowers’ pilot, we will carry this invaluable lesson with us, knowing that by working together and staying true to our mission.
What advice would you give to Quantic students currently working on their capstone projects?
(SB) Form a group as early as possible and commit 1-2 hours per week to meeting as a group and 1-2 hours per week for completing your own actions and tasks from kick-off to submission.
(PK) Have a diverse team with multitudes of backgrounds whom you could learn from
(MT) My advice is to get a motivated team to work with. It is easier if everyone is motivated by the topic. And start early.
(AS) I would suggest finding a group of people as quickly as possible. If you can complement each other’s skills that is fantastic. I would highly recommend working with people outside your region, culture, etc. as it will provide a richer learning experience.
(SZ) To ensure your business idea is successful, it’s crucial to solve a problem that addresses a genuine need. Spend time researching the problem space to identify an issue that has a real impact on people’s lives. Your ultimate goal should be to develop a business idea that people want and will pay for. You can conduct research by using various methods such as surveys, focus groups, and speaking with experts in the field. By gaining a deeper understanding of the problem and the people it affects, you’ll be better equipped to develop an effective solution.
Once you’ve identified the problem, focus on creating a solution that genuinely helps people. This may involve iterating on your initial idea and gathering feedback from your team, stakeholders, and potential end-users. Be receptive to constructive criticism and be willing to pivot your approach if necessary.
Throughout the project, keep your focus on the problem you are trying to solve as your guiding star, even if the process gets chaotic. Although it’s easy to become attached to an idea, it’s essential to be adaptable and open to making adjustments along the way. Outgrowers, for example, underwent numerous iterations and ideas that required us to adapt constantly based on what we were learning.
Make sure you also test your solution with the people who will use it. This will help you validate your assumptions and ensure that your solution is meeting the needs of your target audience. By testing and iterating on your solution, you can create a final product/service that truly addresses the underlying need.
(RA) To ensure the success of your capstone project, start early and choose a topic that genuinely captivates your interest. Embrace the journey of ideation, experimentation, validation, and if necessary, restarting the process, ensuring you address a genuine problem.
Actively seek guidance from customers, advisors, professors, and industry experts, while fostering collaboration with your peers. Let these stakeholders co-design the solution with your team. With Outgrowers, we got feedback from over 300 customers, suppliers, experts, and other stakeholders to learn as much as we could and test our idea early.
Throughout the process, maintain effective communication and demonstrate adaptability in the face of new insights by being open to feedback. This way, you’ll be better prepared to navigate the various stages of your project and achieve a successful outcome. Good luck!
How has your Quantic Executive MBA prepared you for future career growth?
(MT) This EMBA has been very interesting. It was worth it to sacrifice the time and do the hard work. And it was fun.
(SZ) Working with a team from different parts of the world has been an incredible experience, where we came together and collaborated to create something that we are all passionate about. It’s inspiring to see how far we have come since our initial meeting, and I’m proud of our progress. I’d like to express my gratitude to Quantic for providing us with this wonderful opportunity and their guidance throughout the process. This project has taught me a lot, and I’m excited to see what the future holds for Outgrowers.
While this experience has had its challenges and required a great deal of hard work, it’s also been an opportunity for personal and professional growth. Every obstacle we faced provided us with a valuable lesson, and every setback offered a chance to re-evaluate and pivot our approach. We’ve learned to embrace the process, stay focused on our goals, and be receptive to feedback.
Good luck to all the current and future teams working on their Capstones! With determination, hard work, and a willingness to take risks, there is opportunity for any team to turn their capstone project into something even bigger!
(RA) Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” This serves as a reminder that, united in purpose, our combined efforts, fueled by inspiration and motivation, can create meaningful change and foster economic prosperity. With the right business mindset, we can truly make a difference. Thank you to Quantic and my team for the opportunity to embark on this transformative journey together!