This case focuses on RISE Products Inc., a small start-up in New York City that leverages technology and innovation to transform a waste beer product (called spent beer grain) into a healthy flour. Started as a class project at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering, RISE Products Inc. attracted funding and recognition from some leaders in the food sector. The company partners with New York City breweries to use their spent grain and transform it into a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, and cholesterol-free flour. The case examines what drives and enables the success of RISE Products Inc. and the challenges it must overcome in order to grow while staying true to its sustainability mission. As it evaluates a growth strategy the company leadership faces several dilemmas, including how to scale-up operations without transporting waste long distances, how to secure external funding without surrendering a controlling stake, and how to communicate the positive impacts of its product in order to raise awareness and increase demand. The overall goal of the case is to introduce students to emerging business opportunities in the circular economy and, specifically, organic waste; the importance of technology, innovation, and strategic partnerships for creating a successful business model; and the challenges faced by start-ups in communicating impacts and scaling-up operations. The CEO, Bertha Jimenez, is wondering how should RISE Products Inc. more effectively measure and communicate the environmental, social, and health impacts of its product in order to increase sales, and what strategy should they adopt to grow beyond the NYC market while avoiding shipping a lot of waste and generating greenhouse gas emissions.
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