Hub Spotlight: Este Sustainable Kitchens

Posted on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Written by The John F. Wood Centre For Business and Student Enterprise

Este Sustinable Kitchen is on a mission. A mission to make healthy and sustainable living acceccisble to everyone! Sara Corcoran, the founder, has been enthusiastic about nutrition since she was young, but it wasn't until she started her Master's degree at the University of Guelph that she realized the connection between human health and the enivornment and the need for sustainable, nutritous food solutions. We recently caught up with Sara and learned about how she turned her passion into a noble business. 


How did you come up with Este Sustainable Kitchens?

I have always had a keen interest in human nutrition, and that interest and commitment to nutrition grew while studying Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences during my undergraduate degree. It wasn’t until I was I began my Masters however, that I became aware of the substantial negative impact food waste has on our planet. To make matters worse, a significant amount of this food waste happens at the household level, the more than half of the food that’s wasted are fruits and vegetables! As a nutrition student and environmental advocate, I knew had to do something about this.
 
I began by taking a serious look at avoidable food waste in my own kitchen and exploring ways to eliminate it. I started getting pretty creative and found myself attempting to make jam (with added fibre for a nutritional bonus, of course) out of the scraps from my Halloween pumpkin. To my surprise the jam was delicious, and Este Jams – my original business – was born! I started making jams out of rescued produce to reduce food waste in our community. While selling my jams, many people would ask me if I taught classes about jam making or if I would do seminars about environmentally sustainable food systems and/or nutrition. As these inquiries kept coming, I decided it was time to shift my business from jam production to education about sustainable food systems and food literacy. So finally, we have arrived at Este Sustainable Kitchens, the education-based business empowering consumers and providing them with the information necessary to make healthy and sustainable food choices.

What motivated you to take the next step and apply to the Hub?

I was very uncertain about moving forward with my business as I had never considered myself to be entrepreneurial, business and entrepreneurship seemed so foreign to me! Fortunately, my faculty advisor is an advocate for entrepreneurship during the student experience and he and my classmates encouraged me to apply for the Hub, arguing that the experience would be invaluable. With their support, I was motivated to challenge myself and explore the mysterious world of entrepreneurship.

What do you hope to get out of the Hub?

After completing the Hub Start program in the Winter 2020 semester, I felt that I had established a stable foundation in starting a business and even felt comfortable calling myself an “entrepreneur”. Even more notable than the business foundation however was the supportive network I was brought into. The opportunity to meet with likeminded people with similar backgrounds proved to be paramount to developing my business. Going into the second round of the Hub program, I am hoping to build on this fantastic network and further expand on my business knowledge and skills which can be transferred into all parts of my professional life.

Do you have any advice for someone with a business idea in mind, but are not sure what to do next?

For anyone that has a business idea but is hesitant to take a next step or not sure what a next step should look like, my advice is simply to get started and to put yourself out there. Your business idea doesn’t need to be perfect for the world to see it, and the feedback you will receive at this stage will be fundamental in developing your business. Talk to friends and family about your idea, begin giving away samples, create an Instagram page – simply putting your ideas out there is a great place to start.

 


Housed within the John F. Wood Centre for Business & Student Enterprise (Wood Centre), the Hub is a business incubator designed to support early-stage business ideas with high-potential, but unproven business models. The goal of the Hub is to provide University of Guelph students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni the opportunity to build a successful business enterprise in a supportive learning environment.

The Hub has a tiered program that ensures a good mix of start-up companies at varying stages of growth. “Hub Start” is for ventures still getting their idea off the ground. These ventures typically have a great team and a great idea, but still have not demonstrated product-market fit with traction. “Hub Build” is for ventures with traction looking to refine their business model and/or scale.

 

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