Growing food on top of old warehouses?
Some would think that’s a crazy idea, but it was the bet of young entrepreneur Mohamed Hage, and I know I was not the only one in the room in awe listening to this Editor’s Pick at C2-MTL yesterday.
The idea was simple: “Grow food where people live, and grow it sustainably.”
It also makes financial sense: “Ecology is economy. Our vision is to eliminate waste as much as possible,” says Hage, adding that today the green waste his company once paid to get rid of is now being sold to become a source of revenue.
Stephan Ouaknine of Inerjys also spoke of how creativity and thinking big can lead to positive changes that have a global impact. Sure, the challenge of clean tech is often the lack return on investment, but Ouaknine says that shouldn’t stop us: “We need to be more creative with the business model.”
Big news of the day
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s answer to a question from the audience about when the green grocer would come to Montreal turned into a scoop that made headlines for the rest of the day: At long last, Whole Foods is considering coming to Montreal.
In his talk, the CEO was not only inspiring in terms of his vision for the food industry but also his business insights.
“Management is simple: You should hire the best people you can get, train them and then get out of the way and let them do their thing,” he said, adding that how you treat your employees will determine the success of your company. “Empowerment leads to experimentation, and this leads to innovation.”
Big risks can pay off
The afternoon featured two fashion icons, Bobbi Brown and Diane von Furstenberg. Hearing how they both built their empires out of a desire to prove themselves was a treat.
Brown, considered to have created ‘the natural look,’ spoke of humble beginnings and her dream of a Vogue Magazine cover. From producing 100 lipsticks she sold out of her basement to becoming a daily make-up staple for so many women is an incredible achievement.
For her, it was all about how big risks can pay off – and she shared the mantra: “Don’t ask for permission, but ask for forgiveness.”
Diane von Furstenberg might have married a prince, but she gave up the princess title to be a Mrs. and a businesswoman.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I knew the woman I wanted to be,” she said.
Many don’t know that she actually invented the wrap dress. Refreshing in her spontaneity, she said: “In French the wrap dress is a robe portefeuille – a wallet… and it really filled my wallet!”
Looking back at the impressive line-up of speakers for Day 2, a theme struck me: Great ideas come from a need, but also being tuned in with your environment and being ready and willing to create something incredible that fulfils that need.