Business and Culinary Inspiration at SFFS
By Gisela Macedo, Babson MBA 2015 and founder of Gisela Treats.
Last week the Summer Fancy Food Show was held in NY. As a food entrepreneur, I couldn’t be more excited – for I knew, from previous experiences, it could be an amazing opportunity to meet and greet potential suppliers, clients and people that could give me some insights on the business. Little did I know that it became much more than that: I was inspired by so much innovation, discovering new flavors, partnerships and trends in the industry, on top of my cohort’s points of view and businesses.
First and foremost, this trip was a dream coming true because of the generosity of Food Sol and The Lewis Institute. This year through a partnership with SFFS they were able to offer four Babson College food entrepreneurs a Premium Pass: Jennifer Odera from T&Co., Shyam Devnani from India in a Box, Marla Feldman from Enerchi Bites and me, Gisela Macedo, from Gisela Treats. This cohort not only managed to exchange ideas and insights from the show, but we also helped each other a lot. Pointing out booths to go to, discovering new trends and sharing it with the group. But the best part for me was actually sharing personal experiences like showing them the Brazil section and introducing them to the food from my country; learning from each other and having a great time with Bob Burke who was so kind in giving us some time to answer questions and talk about trends in the industry. Also having such a great time with Gail Simmons in an unforgettable dinner provided by Food Sol collaborators Tim and Nancy Cushman at Roof at Park South.
Furthermore, while I’ve never walked so much in a show – believe me, 22 thousand steps per day – I couldn’t stop eating! The food wasn’t just delicious; it felt like a Disney World for my taste buds. While I was engaged on meeting suppliers, learning about new ingredients and packaging, I also discovered a host of potential flavors for my product: there was this AMAZING tomato watermelon jam that I could nave have imagined before; a host of teas – especially the green tea matcha – that enlightened me while I was texting Jennifer to come and check them out; Indian food that tasted amazing and allowed me to meet and greet Sameer Malhotra, a Babson College 2000 alumn that is the Founder and Owner of Cafe Spice and talk about all the amazing things that Shyam has been doing. And it was the first time I ever tried Enerchi Bites, that tasted so amazing as to make me savor them for minutes rather than just popping them in my mouth. Plus, having their company not only made the event more fun but also I learned a lot from each one of my cohort’s members.
So, even though I had extremely exhausting days that demanded me to figure out ways to keep my product fresh enough to give some samples to Gail Simmons (the dinner was definitely the high point of the trip), I learned so much and got so inspired by all the talented people that I met during those days. I feel like before I was a “wannabe” food entrepreneur and after the trip I became a better entrepreneur than I ever expected me to become in such short period of time. Thanks to Rachel Greenberger and Food Sol, the whole event was more than amusing: my foodie and entrepreneur skills evolved in all ways – from palate to negotiation, from trend knowledge to insightful conversations that already leveraged my business. Before the SFFS I was a candy lady. Now I am a food businesswoman.