AIB Start-up Academy Finalists - We Spoke To Sabine Hobbel Of Leaves #PastaMagic
The AIB Start-up Academy in association with The Irish Times is underway with all of the finalists announced, including a reader-chosen wild card company.
The winner and two runners-up receive a prize package of €250,000 to share which could change their lives and their businesses forever, with the overall winner receiving a tidy €20,000 directly invested into their business.
We chatted to Sabine Hobbel of Leaves, who have created #PastaMagic, a healthy, delicious pasta that cooks in just five minutes. This innovative product - made from buckwheat and chickpeas only - is the solution for time-poor professionals who want to eat a tasty, wholesome meal with plenty of protein and vegetables at the end of a long day of work, but who cannot face the idea of cooking an elaborate meal.
She is delighted to be taking part in the program:
"It is amazing to be part of the AIB Start-up Academy. When we applied we realised we were up against so many talented Start-ups, and every round we passed, we got more and more excited. The atmosphere on the course is amazing, everybody is really helpful and is truly engaging with the material and with each other."
Hobbel is aware of the networking potential of the Start-up Academy, knowing that meeting so many people from varied disciplines can help her own business flourish.
"We cannot wait to see how different people view the different issues, and we hope many lively debates will follow from this. We are also very excited about the top quality experts that are coming in to help us run our businesses better. It is always great to hear from people who are leaders in their industry and to have the chance to pick their brains and learn from them."
Hobbel believes that their brand has a strong vision behind it, and is constantly working together with her husband and co-founder Nico Olivieri to improve the customer experience.
"We are on a mission to make a healthy diet more attractive and easier to achieve, and we plan on doing this by adding value to staple foods."
The couple's backgrounds are also a valuable asset to the company. Nico has a marketing background and is a trained chef, while Sabine is well-versed in health research, applying those skills to the market.
They would use the prize money to invest more heavily in marketing, to raise awareness of a product that there is plenty of demand for. They would also like to be able to take on a key hire in sales earlier than they have currently projected. Hopefully this would lead to resources to expand the business around Ireland and abroad.
In terms of what's next, the response to the product being carried in all Supervalu stores has been great and they hope for this to continue.
Excitingly, they will be launching a celebrity charity cookbook with recipes containing #PastaMagic with all proceeds going to Make-A-Wish Ireland.
"The future is very bright for Leaves and the AIB Start-up Academy is helping us to achieve our goals even faster."
AIB are Backing Brave. To read more about the AIB Start-up Academy in association with the Irish Times, visit here.