Entrepreneurs face numerous internal and external challenges in expanding their operations and this is particularly true of food and beverage (F&B) businesses, which face such internal issues as building their operating systems and corporate culture as well as such external issues as a crowded and fickle marketplace.
These and other issues are covered in the latest report from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR), which has published the highlights of the October 2015 Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship Roundtable, held at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (SHA).
Said Olsen: "Entrepreneurship is everywhere. Working to combine the disciplines of entrepreneurship and food and beverage at this roundtable fostered a rich discussion; the discussion resulted in new ideas and engaging debate on how to continue to move the global hospitality industry forward. It renewed my focus on the power of encouraging multidisciplinary discussions to develop creative solutions to common industry challenges. "
Roundtable participants noted that the challenges for entrepreneurs begin right at the outset, with the development of the F&B venue. This development involves five phases: launch of the venue, including how to define the guest experience; the creation of operational functionality by strategically planning out the design, flow, and efficiency of a defined space; development capacity; post-opening considerations, including operating systems; and culture development.
Participants particularly highlighted the importance of culture in the growth of a business. They suggested that intrapreneurship needs to be fostered in the culture of an organization and in an educational curriculum for those who are preparing to enter the industry. Focusing on the beverage industry, the panel examined distribution methods for a crowded marketplace, including the importance of face-to-face sales.
The proper application of technology is unavoidably essential for a successful F&B operation, and an entrepreneur must identify the point at which technology detracts from the guest experience, how to minimize operational risk from technology, and how to maximize consumers' adoption rates. "As an educational program that encourages the entrepreneurial spirit, we need to nurture the conversations between entrepreneurs, students, and professors so the passion and learning opportunities can thrive. This roundtable accomplished just that," said Stanley.
More than thirty F&B industry representatives attended the roundtable. Key points of their discussion are presented in "Authenticity in Scaling the Vision: Defining Boundaries in the Food and Beverage Entrepreneurship Development Cycle," written by roundtable chairs Mona Anita K. Olsen and Cheryl Stanley. Olsen is an assistant professor and director of the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at SHA, where Stanley is a lecturer. The report is available from CHR at no charge.