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Course Description:

EPS9507 Food Entrepreneurship 1.5 Intensive Elective Over the last five years, the global food industry has been both expanding and reorganizing rapidly. Once fringe products are migrating to the middle as alternative food goes mainstream. Without question, consumers are driving industry change with major print, television and online media contributing to greater consumer awareness of the industry and how their individual and familial food decisions serve to shape it. Understanding U.S. food-industry dynamics is crucial to food entrepreneurship, regardless of one's home market, because foreign markets and multinationals see the U.S. as setting the future of food. Players globally are watching the U.S. for indicators of new food trends, products and business models. While barriers to entry in the food industry are relatively low, the hurdles ahead for new farmers, food makers, distributors, and retailers are substantial. Food incubators and accelerators have ballooned as a new "food entrepreneur services" (my term) segment follows the proliferation of new entrants and significant dollars have begun migrating to them from the tech sector. However, be they corporate or independent, food incubators and accelerators are startups themselves. All are young, and the field is fragmented and confusing. This highly experiential intensive MBA elective 'Food Entrepreneurship' will focus on the anatomy of the food entrepreneur's journey from initial idea and course-setting through meaningful survey of market landscapes into relevant management and supply chain activities. Course materials and assigned readings are drawn from five years of firsthand research in the field. Guest experts and entrepreneurs visiting class will help us to dig deeper into particular questions and dynamics. Focus will include both internal and external reflection and navigation of challenge and opportunity sets. This course is applicable to students who already have a business idea or venture in development as well as to students who are simply curious about the food industry as a potential career sector. For students in building mode, this course will accelerate their networks and understanding of market forces and future trends, and illuminate their next smart action steps. For students in exploration mode, this course will arm them with the right questions and frameworks to learn efficiently from and with industry experts and current entrepreneurs. We will practice the Babson method of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action (ET&A) extensively in the classroom: in our engagements with industry experts exploring traditional and emergent models for doing business; during in-class exercises borrowing from Food Sol's signature model of the Quick Service Incubator; and in the final team deliverable of a business recommendation presentation. Students enrolled in this course will accomplish the following objectives: Acquire a nuanced understanding of the current state of the food industry, its component parts, and the food system surrounding it Interact with field experts on food trends, market dynamics and the food system (including adjacent sector opportunities) Rapidly problem-solve in service to a local food business (representatives from each business will be present in class to engage with the students on their feedback and ideas) Sense market opportunities and inflection points, and identify territory for smart collaborations As an intensive elective, we will not be able to address every paradigm in the global food industry. This course will elucidate the landscape and system frameworks, and a lengthy reading list and online resources will help students to organize the field of content and resources. Topics such as the history of food, food product marketing, finance, industry mergers and acquisitions, and food science will not be covered, beyond anecdotally. The intent is an immersive experience into the food industry for the purposes of identifying, creating or furthering opportunities within it.



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