The Queen Mary Enterprise team held their popular 8-week QIncubator programme online over the autumn term. 60 students and graduates participated in the programme, and 8 students had the opportunity to pitch their idea to judges on the final night!
Victoria Kemp was announced the winner after pitching her idea, Pea-Fu, a sustainable alternative to tofu using British peas. She tells us more about her experience on the QIncubator programme and what is next for Pea-Fu.
How did you hear about the QIncubator programme?
I was notified of an upcoming QIncubator by the QM Enterprise team as I had been awarded a Try It Award earlier in the year for my business idea Pea-fu.
What convinced you to apply to the programme?
The programme sounded like exactly what I needed to enhance my understanding of the business world, from simple vocabulary to entrepreneurial skills. The promise of time with mentors to discuss my business idea sealed the deal!
What skills did you learn from your time on the QIncubator programme?
I gained a lot of knowledge during QIncubator, and now have far more confidence to discuss my business idea with potential investors and partners. I also developed the ability to recognise and utilise the resources around me, for example a ready-made entrepreneurial network of mentors and peers. As the programme advanced I became more tuned into the discussions taking place in mentoring sessions, and more able to contextualise my product and identify shared and unique benefits and challenges compared to my peers – this broader perspective has really helped me to feel that launching my specific business is achievable!
More specifically, the programme was very skills based and I have developed my understanding of product development; financial modelling; and identifying, acquiring and retaining customers.
You were crowned the winner of QIncubator after pitching your idea to judges. What was the experience like?
Julie and Miriam created a fantastic pitch night and lined up a panel of four external judges, all very accomplished as entrepreneurs and consultants. Hearing that the panel had selected me as the winner was a HUGE shock given the incredible quality of the other seven pitches. Especially in the strange year that was 2020, winning QIncubator was really a fantastic experience, and a very good excuse to crack out the celebratory prosecco! Winning has given me a very real confidence boost, and made me determined to take Pea-fu to the next step!
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about applying for the programme?
If you have a few hours a week in which you can take the time to dedicate to the programme then you should definitely apply! I think as with anything you get out what you put in, but Julie and Miriam have created a fantastic framework and if you can show up and engage then the rewards are plentiful. You might just be the next QIncubator winner…. I didn’t think it would be me.
What’s next for you and Pea-Fu?
It’s a very exciting time for pea-fu. I am currently looking for expertise to help with recipe development, and I’m always open to hearing from people who may be able to help! And at the same time I am expanding my upstream and downstream market research to not only learn more about the supply of peas from British farms, but also better understand what people want from their plant protein pantry staples. I’m hoping to apply for the Build It Award this year, which would help me to fund this. Watch this space for a future suPEAstar!!
You can follow Peafu across social media with their username @pea_fu
You can visit our website to find out more about how the Enterprise team can help you!