News story 10th Dec 2015

Monash Business School students present their Big Idea

Monash Business School students Tom Renehan and Jayakrishna Nair were among seven finalists in the Big Idea finals, held on 30 November.

The Big Idea is a national university competition, coordinated by The Big Issue, Australia's longest-standing social enterprise.

Jayakrishna and Tom

Jayakrishna and Tom preparing for their final presentation

Tom and Jayakrishna joined over 80 teams from 10 universities to present their social enterprise, Horti (meaning 'the garden' in Latin). Horti hires homeless people to build veggie patches made from recycled pallets, explains Jayakrishna.

"We believe that growing your own food is something that everyone should be able to do. Our compact design for these veggie patches will allow anyone to do just that. We offer a range of sizes to fit all requirements, built by people in need," he says.

First, Jayakrishna and Tom had to submit a business plan. Second, they presented their plan to a panel of judges appointed by Monash Business School. After making it through this round, they were chosen as the Monash University representatives in the Big Ideas competition. They presented their idea and business plan via video conference, after which they were shortlisted to join the final seven in the finale at PWC.

Jayakrishna says that Monash Business School provided support from day 1, by offering workshops to help students develop their idea, as well as mentors to help guide them through their journey.

"What helped us the most was the 'Dragon's Den', organised by the School. We had to pitch our idea to a group of MBA students, just like on the TV show. Their feedback is essentially what got us through to the finals," Jayakrishna explains.

One of the biggest lessons we took away from this was to take on board the feedback you are given and to use this to improve on your plans and projects.

Jayakrishna Nair

The finale, held at PWC, involved a presentation to the high-profile judges, including the CEO of The Big Issue, the CEO of Telstra, the Executive Director of Macquarie Group and a senior partner at PWC.

"It was pretty nerve wracking at first, to present in front of these judges. However, they soon made us feel at ease. Even though we didn't win the competition, I'm very happy with how it all went and the final product that Tom and I created."

"It was a great experience and it's really inspiring to see what people can achieve when they put their minds together for a great purpose. I've definitely learned a lot and I look forward to using my skills on any future projects I may undertake," Jayakrishna concluded.

Professor Keryn Chalmers, Deputy Dean External and International, says Monash Business School will be partnering with The Big Issue on the 2016 Big Idea competition.

"At Monash Business School, we believe that being enterprising means preparing for the future with a focus on innovative and impactful research and education. Working with The Big Issue on the Big Idea competition fits in well with our commitments to social inclusion and working creatively together to make the world a better place," Professor Chalmers says.

You can find more information about this competition on the Big Idea website.