MSM MBA students win the TSH Changemakers Challenge


On Friday 21 June, a team of MSM MBA students were the proud winners of the TSH Changemakers Challenge with their business case on Urban Ponics.

The TSH Changemakers Challenge is a competition launched by The Student Hotel, which challenges students to work on a business case that has a positive impact, to support entrepreneurs who are changing the world. Each location of the Student Hotel presented one case In total five different cases could be worked out.

The team of MSM MBA students consisting of Mara Villaverde, Francisco Leyton, Namrata Kumar and Claudia Martinez, worked on the business case of Urban Ponics, a Dutch company that promotes the production of nutritious food through a mist ponics/aeroponics vertical farming system, applicable in urban areas and big cities. Johannes Trebes and his father Laurens needed the help of the students to devise a strategy that entices entrepreneurs and companies in hospitality to integrate their installations into their way of working so that the staff and urban farmers can produce their own healthy greens.

Last Friday the finale took place at The Student Hotel in Amsterdam where all the teams had to pitch their business case. The pitches were judged by a professional jury consisting of representatives from The Student Hotel and its partners. The main criteria on which the business cases were scored by the jury, were feasibility, scalability, creativity and the pitch during the final. The business case presented by the MSM MBA student team scored the highest on these criteria and was perceived by the jury as the most complete solution for the most complex problem.

I look forward to seeing our business plan come to life and most especially, a world that will go from gray to green”, says Mara Villaverde.

The day before we were inspired by a talk of Women in Leadership, in this event we heard that diversity should be in the agenda of every company that wants to pursue Innovation. And this was the key for success in our case. We are a multi disciplinary team with diversity of countries, ages and backgrounds, each one doing valuable contributions. And more importantly, we all were highly motivated by the great purpose of Urban Ponics. This challenge was a great experience and insightful for us, we are grateful for this opportunity” says Claudia Martinez.

As a team, we believed in the business and the idea behind it. As the world is becoming more Urban and modernized, we need solutions which can help the society and the world. Urban Ponics addresses those problems through its business” says Namrata Kumar.

Francisco Leyton mentioned that “working on this challenge was a tremendous experience, we had the chance to help a start-up with funding and learn about the true issues entrepreneurs face in the market. Working with this team was enriching in every aspect, we took advantage of the diversity within our group, which allowed us to develop a solid proposal for Urban Ponics.”

As the winning team Mara, Francisco, Claudia, and Namrata have won seed funding for Urban Ponics. In addition, they all won a TSH Scholarship to be spent on a studies/education of their choice, and as a winning team, they are invited to share their story at BedTalksBerlin in the fall of 2019.

Congratulations to you all for this great achievement, Mara, Francisco, Claudia and Namrata!

on the picture from left to right: Johannes Trebes, Mara Villaverde, Francisco Leyton, Namrata Kumar and Claudia Martínez

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