Last term three of our Business Studies groups pitched their ideas in a ‘Dragons Den’ style judging scenario as part of The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme. We’ve been following their journey and this week ‘Doctor Herb’ presented their range of high quality herb and spice mixes for tastings and sales at our Open Evening.
In choosing to take Level 3 Business Studies, Tom Puchmueller, Felix Schoenerkerl, Michael Mak, Chloe Hamilton and Samuel Tang were automatically entered into The Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme (YES), an experiential programme that Nayland College has participated in since its inception. The programme aims to develop entrepreneurial skills and give students the experience of running a real business. Students must design, produce, market and sell their product. Being part of the scheme involves a number of deadlines students must meet along the way, with judges scoring and evaluating them at each point.
When asked how they came up with the idea of ‘Doctor Herb,’ Tom Puchmueller, the company’s CEO, replied, “Basically it was a free target market in NZ and I think that Kiwis don’t really know how they can pimp their food with herbs and what you can do with your food when you put herbs in it. “
The group certainly do bring international flavour to their product with Tom and Felix both international students from Germany, and Samuel and Michael also international students, both from Hong Kong. As the only Kiwi, Chloe mentioned an added hurdle their group had to face. “A challenge for ours is probably communicating because we have an international group and a lot of the time they would be speaking in their own languages.”
During Covid there were even further challenges for Doctor Herb with shipping difficulties and supplier costs increasing but the group have tackled these challenges positively. “Because of Covid we’ve had to pay more for stuff because it’s in New Zealand and local businesses but it’s been okay,” Chloe said. “I’ve liked the whole process so far, I haven’t done it before so it’s just interesting.”
The various challenges have certainly added to all that the students have learned. “We learned how to work with each other together to develop our business and also to develop strategies, how we can do the best to let people know that we exist, do the marketing. We’ve done a lot of marketing research in the beginning as well so we’ve learnt a lot of that, what people want and what people like about herbs,” Tom said.
Doctor Herb has produced three different blends, ‘Smokey BBQ,’ ‘Magic Dust’ and ‘Tasty Curry.’ Felix’s favourite is the ‘Magic Dust.’ “It’s kind of an all-rounder, you can put it on a lot of things, for example even on sandwiches… it has kind of a strong paprika flavour.”
And it’s not just the three delicious herb and spice blends inside the jar that makes this business worth noting, they also have a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to their production using recyclable jars and offering refill packs.
Going forward the group hope to sell 500-600 jars before the end of this year. They also plan “to develop new spices, at least two new spice mixes,” Tom said. Doctor Herb sold their first jars at Open Evening this week and they are also meeting with Nelson Market Founder and Manager Nita Knight this weekend, hoping to set up a regular stall at the Saturday Market along with Nayland’s other two Business Studies groups, ‘ATYR’ and ‘Supa Sauce.’
In a written statement from CEO Tom Puchmueller he said, “Each of us is fully committed to producing high quality herb and spice mixes for everyone in New Zealand. We are focused on reducing food making difficulty and being environmentally friendly, so that our consumers can make delicious food easily, even if they are new to cooking. Our biggest mission for this year is to make profit by selling our product and in the meantime keeping the product sustainable by using environmentally friendly packaging like the recyclable glass jars and refill packs.”
By Sarah Luton