Caviar will never be the way to Brisbane woman Anna Hendra’s heart.
In fact the University of Queensland graduate and entrepreneur would like the fishy roe delicacy to be consigned to the fine dining tables of history.
And she has a plan to replace it – with algae.
Ms Hendra, a chemical engineering graduate and the co-founder and CEO of Ocean Orchards, hopes to make algae a dietary mainstay.
“I’m passionate about algae and its sustainability and health benefits,” she said.
“Algae is high in protein, contains all essential amino acids, and is high in minerals, vitamins and Omega 3, which makes it a perfect food source for vegans and health-conscious people.
“Algae can be grown on non-arable land with non-potable water, making it more sustainable than any other plant equivalents.”
Ocean Orchards is developing its business through UQ’s intensive six-month ilab Germinate PLUS Startup accelerator program, which helps entrepreneurs refine their business ideas.
Ocean Orchards secured $50,000 in private investor funding two weeks after beginning Germinate Plus. Co-founders Ms Hendra and Griffith University IT student Adrian Spierings plan to use the money to establish a production facility.
“We are almost done building the raceway pond where the algae will be grown,” Ms Hendra said.
“We need a second facility to make the product as well as buy the best equipment to optimise our production methods.
“Both of these things will significantly impact the quality and the final taste of Ocean Orchards, so we are really excited to get this investment and hopefully reach our goals faster.
“Ilab has been great at helping us learn how to market, network and run our business more effectively. It has also connected us with a lot of other people in the industry, ranging from potential clients to mentors.”
Germinate PLUS Entrepreneur in Residence Ran Heimann brings 20 years of business experience to his role mentoring people such as Ms Hendra.
“UQ’s decision to focus on a more mature group of startups in the program this year is already seeing early success, with Brandtools signing their first client in the first week and now Ocean Orchards securing their first external funding,” he said.
Ilab offers $20,000 grants to help 12 startup teams get market and investment-ready during the six-month Germinate PLUS program. The program includes workshops, mentoring, partner deals, desk space and introductions to investors. Startups from all disciplines – from robots to social enterprises – are encouraged to apply.