Creating Social Value Blog / Food

Community Table Mapped to Supply Chain

Many teachers say they absorb more in the classroom than they impart. In addition to what they learn from students, the iterative process of learning how to teach is itself an incredible education journey. What I’ve learned from teaching the MBA elective Food Entrepreneurship twice now has shaped the way I look at my role as Director of Food Sol. Central to both endeavors is my strong belief that students and entrepreneurs of food must understand the full spectrum of the industry (and at least from a topline perspective its impacts, both positive and negative), if they are to truly help to evolve it.

The food industry is undergoing a revolution and a transformation, both in terms of standard operating procedures and in terms of consumer awareness and activity to shape it. These days, to venture into the food industry and create entrepreneurial solutions for it, one must recognize all of the supply chain steps and their particular choke points, risks and opportunities for innovation.

Case in point: Many of the “food tech” entrepreneurs of the last five years in Silicon Valley who raised astronomical sums of money for their ventures came from other sectors—as did their investors. Those who understood the food supply chain and nuances of the industry are the ones still around today.

So in the spirit of educating all along the food value chain, this spring Food Sol is offering its 8 weekly Community Tables at Babson mapped to the stages of the supply chain. Due to special guest schedules, we were unable to go in order, however each stage will be covered. In order, we’ll cover:

  1. restaurants (fast-casual and food trucks)
  2. restaurants (fine dining)
  3. agriculture and agribusiness (international lens)
  4. distribution
  5. manufacture, shared-use kitchens and co-manufacture
  6. new products, channels, and positioning
  7. food media
  8. retail (e-commerce, traditional and private labeling)

For those committed to understanding and sensing opportunities across the food industry spectrum, be sure to save the dates for all eight Babson Community Tables and make a point to join us each week. These Tuesdays will each stand alone, but also build upon one another as facilitators endeavor to connect dots across the sessions.

Of course, New York and Boston Community Tables will continue monthly, as normally scheduled. These Community Tables do not feature special guests but instead are open-source forums for dynamic and generous food entrepreneurs to gather ideas and help one another solve problems. See you there!