Focused Food Entrepreneur: Raphael Leonard and Wholesome Wave
When Raphael Leonard (B’13) walked into my office in late April, he hadn’t broken his leg yet. Food Sol was fresh on his radar screen. He’d just learned of us from Lewis Institute ugrad scholar Lindsey Tarr.
“I’m passionate about innovations in food production and delivery systems,” he told me.
Graduation was just a few weeks away and Raphael hadn’t found his job yet. “I’m open to exploring anything,” he assured me. “Getting my hands dirty is not a barrier – if the job is right.”
Energized, smart, entrepreneurially-minded students with a backbone in business and an eye towards food-system innovation are not, actually, all that common. “Your resume is unique and varied, and your experience demonstrates some compelling contrasts,” I assured him. “You are a strong candidate.”
The month prior, Food Sol’s contacts at Wholesome Wave – a pioneer in the dual support of sustainable and accessible food for all* – had reached out to Food Sol for recommendations as they sought candidates for their Food and Farm Fellowship – a one-year opportunity to work with the organization on analyzing investments into growing farm and food enterprises.
When I described the position to Raphael, he saw the fit. So we connected the dot, and he started his application. Just a few days later, I got a note from the Class Dean that Raphael had broken his leg, was in the hospital, and would be unable to meet with me to finalize his application by the deadline.
True to Babson form, Raphael used all the means at hand to get his resume and letter ready and in front of the right sets of eyes. He laser focused his desire, followed up as needed, made himself available for phone and in-person interviews (all despite a seriously broken leg) – and is now a Food and Farm Fellow with Wholesome Wave.
“What an amazing whirlwind life,” Raphael wrote to me the other day. “I have ended up in a dream job.” So far he has consulted to one food-distribution company and is involved with assessments on other up-and-comers in both production and distribution innovation. “It has been a great learning experience and I am looking forward to the continued adventure.”
*Cool case: Last month, the Wall Street Journal covered the story of Wholesome Wave’s expanding Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) into two New York City hospitals. Doctors write prescriptions for veggies – literally.