UBC Undergraduate Research

UBC Farm E-Business Plan: Growing an Online Presence Clarke, Jacqueline; Fraser, Jordanna; Garrick, Glen; Gonzalez, Miguel; Max, Katherine; Quintanilla, Dixie 2006

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UBC FarmE-Business PlanJacqueline ClarkeJordanna FraserGlen GarrickMiguel GonzalezKatherine MaxDixie QuintanillaGrowing anOnline PresenceOverview1. Internal & external analysisz The firmz The industry2. E-business planz Benefitsz Approach3. Implementationz Marketing strategyz Resourcingz Challenges and constraintsUBC FarmCurrent Farm Strategyz Not-for-profit– Have goals but no strategyz Focus on ‘products’– Education– Research– Organic ProduceVision - Farmz Centre of instruction, learning and researchz Integrate principles of organic production and sustainabilityz Add to the quality of life of the local communityCurrent Operationsz Organic Farm– Three acres in production with two large green houses– Weekly summer market– Production is only in the summer season no winter vegetablesz Education– Educational exchange programs– Summer internships– Grade school toursz Research– Research projects for various faculties at UBCThe IndustryProduct Suppliers Buyers Potential EntrantsWilling to pay a premiumIntensity of Rivalry – LowBarriers to Entry – High•High initial investment and low yield, certification complicated•Internationally there are other options (Santa Cruz)•Locally this it the only such location•Facilities, educators in low supply – high initial investmentIntensity of Rivalry – Low•Very few competitors in North America at presentBarriers to Entry – High•Must have available location for researchInternational: many countries are interested in organic farming Schools: Only location in close proximityAs organic farming grows in popularity (i.e. market grows) demand for relevant research will increaseSubstitutesOrganic ProduceCosts relative to total are lowNon-organic foodsEducationEducators required to run programs in low supplyAt home or in school programs without a site visitResearchMust be students available and interested in completing projectsOther institutions’researchUBC Farm – Competitive Advantagez Location– only existing urban organic farm in Vancouver proper– soil type and regional latitude allow for specialized research– proximity to UBC and grade schools– availability of housing for international exchangesz UBC brand name– closely linked with that of the UBC farmz Barriers to Entry– location and UBC brand namez Inimitable competitive advantageE-Business Plan - currentProduceMarket GardenDates, times and produce offeredEventsResearchEducationInternships, grade-school program, international programsWebsite“Pulls” user inE-Business Plan – why change?z Raise awareness, generate interest– UBC has a farm? I can go there to purchase locally grown organicfood?– Support existing operations with online mechanisms (operational efficiencies)z Educate– What is organic farming and why is it important?z Generate Revenue– Sale of research, market garden, advertising links (2ndstage), new sources of revenuez Increase prestige– Utilize web to highlight UBC’s research excellencez Build a stronger “community”– Web-facilitated information sharing with learning institutions worldwideE-Business Plan – Market GardenRecommendations:z Online ordering / payment processing for Market Garden productsz Enable online donationsz Post free food recipes and cooking classes– collaborate with existing restaurant customers, explore cross promotion opportunitiesz Post ‘fresh alerts’ of produce specials for the weekz Enhance links on UBC homepage / local businesses’ websitesz Change existing website urlz Online discussion groups and bulletin boardsRationale / Benefits:z Marketing tool to promote the farmz Community buildingz Generate revenueE-Business Plan – EducationRecommendations:z Online registration / payment processing– school field trips and summer weeklong workshopsz Online volunteer signupz Workshops catering to gardening communityz Primary marketing tool to highlight UBC Farm’s international exchange programz Post lectures and videos of annual symposium held at the farm– Partner with websites of other UBC departments, schools and institutions to promotionz Highlight teaching exchange partnerships with other schoolsz Information on organic farmingRationale / Benefits:z Public and student educationz Enhance a project’s profile and students’participationz Community buildingz Generate revenueE-Business Plan – ResearchRecommendations:z Online ordering of research projects performed at UBC Farmz Allow UBC students and faculty to post their own research, including links to ongoing research projectsz Encourage UBC faculty and other schools to promote UBC Farm website and increase visibilityRationale / Benefits:z Networkingz External and Internal Community Buildingz Generate RevenueImplementation – Marketing StrategyCurrent Situationz Marketing plan does not existz Email bulletin used to provide updates regarding organic producez Funds are extremely limitedWebsite can be cost-effective way to achieve Farm objectivesImplementation – Marketing StrategyProduct Target Market Marketing Program GoalOrganic ProduceOrganic produce consumers,Previous farm visitors,Adjacent communities, UBC residentsFlyers handed out at Farmers’ Market, Newsletter,Links to “share this page”Web address on menusPartner with UBC Administration and International Dept for email promotion, Community newsPartner with faculty administration for email promotionBuild communityRaise awareness of organic productsGenerate revenueDrive visits/repeat visits to farmers’ marketEducation University associates, Gov’tagriculture officers, interested publicRaise awarenessGenerate revenueResearch University associatesBusiness interestsIncrease hits from search results related to organic farming researchRaise profile of university as research centreImplementation - ResourcesResource DetailsPeople1. One time cost– Web designer and developer for initial application setup2. Weekly cost – high season; monthly cost – low season– Marketing coordinator in charge of updating the website– Webmaster in charge of web analytics and proper site workFundingz Keep utilizing UBC Faculty of Land & Food’s serversz Hire Student  - internship opportunity / portfolio building– $17/hr– Thus – 8 to 12 week internship = $4,760 to $7,140Equipmentz Apache/MySQL/PHP Serverz Open Source Content Management SystemBig Picture Challenges & Constraintsz Challenges– UBC Farm occupies prime location– Value of land as real estate far outweighs any land yield dollar for dollarz Constraints– Moratorium expires in 2012– UBC bureaucracy:  Decision making process is slow – Lack of resources– Farm staff has minimal business orientation– Must ensure e-business strategy is aligned with core values of UBC FarmTechnical Challengesz Website relies on hosting and server support from other UBC departmentsz Website maintenance follows oral tradition -very manualz Content Management System (CMS) has high initial learning curvez With increased online capabilities, traffic, links, more maintenance time will be neededIntellectual Property Challengesz Process must be created to systemize the posting of proprietary information and obtain necessary clearancesz UBC Farm must assume responsibility for making documents web compatible (design, file conversions, etc.)z Will require additional man hoursOrganizational Challengesz Limited resourcesz Highly dependent on support from Department of Land and Food Systemsz Highly bureaucratic university system inhibits changez Zero redundancy - continuation of present farm initiatives would suffer if anything happened to current staffProject Evaluationz Difficult to quantify “intangibles”– Goodwill generated through partnerships– Increased prestige of UBC programs and research– Community which values sustainability– Social interactions centered on land and agricultureProject Evaluation - continuedz Our definition of success:– Economically self-sustaining– Farm indispensable to local community– Fosters strong values of sustainability– UBC’s academic programs positioned as world-class– UBC leader in agro-ecological researchThank You – Questions?

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