Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Babson at the Summer Fancy Food Show

Last month, five Babson MBAs engaged in food startups had the chance to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City, marking the second year that Food Sol has arranged a cohort of students to attend the Show and its Education Sessions free of charge.

Drawing 46,000 industry professionals and featuring 180,000 products by 2,550 exhibitors, it is the country’s largest showcase for the specialty food and beverage industry.

In addition to the tactical education sessions led by industry pioneers, innovators and trend-spotters, and three days’ access to the trade show floor, the MBAs had the chance to meet privately with Babson alumnus, Food Sol Fellow and natural products consultant Bob Burke to pitch their businesses and get feedback.

As they head home, here is some of what they had to say…

“We spoke with dozens of Latin American food producers who love our idea and provided great insight into how to adjust and improve our business model. It was fantastic,” said Andres Valencia (M’16)

“I especially loved The Basics,” added Natalia Souza (M’17) who attended a day-long workshop on the nuts and bolts of launching in the industry, which preceded the Show itself. She generously took extra copies of the materials, along with her notes, to share with the cohort. “And the meeting with Bob Burke was great to give us an overview of trends and markets.”

“We were able to identify some really good contacts for distributors and producers,” shared Rigdzin Tarshin (M’17). “And could grasp a clearer picture of the competitive landscape of specialty cheese.”

In addition to the Show, the MBAs ventured out into the abundance that is New York City’s food scene to further explore their markets. A highlight of this was an opportunity made possible through Babson Entrepreneur in Residence Gail Simmons. Ridgzin Tarshin and Eduardo Rojas are working on building a supply chain for Tibetan yak cheese in the U.S. In the market research leading up to the Show, they discovered that Eric Ripert, chef and owner of Le Bernardin (among The World’s 50 Best Restaurants), has cooked with Tibetan yak cheese. Gail made an introduction, and Ridgzin and Eduardo got to meet the world-famous entrepreneur and his team!

Eduardo Rojas and Ridgzin Tarshin with Eric Ripert, chef and owner of Le Bernardin

Eduardo Rojas and Ridgzin Tarshin with Eric Ripert, chef and owner of Le Bernardin

We are so happy to have been able to give this tremendous out-of-classroom learning experience to our students, and can’t wait to see how it fuels their ventures.