Food startups: the power of lean-design thinking

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In this post, Alice Skladmann discusses the challenges of food startups. Leading up to the Degree Show she shares her perspective of the Practivist as Innovation Manager.

Food facilitates conversations, creates memories and encourages the communication of sentiments. It is also a way express creativity and show appreciation.

Recently, we have been witnessing a growth in the culinary business that is now accessible to anyone. Entrepreneurs elaborate on the essence of food and empower society by transforming it into a medium that strengthen and nurture relationships. It is a sector that it is attracting people from the most diverse backgrounds, people from humble origins can make it big and some bankers are quitting their corporate jobs to start a food truck. The eating out sector, in the light of well-experienced entrepreneurship, has contributed £25bn to the UK economy (Shanmugalingam, 2013).

Nevertheless, food start-ups are often blinded by the barriers present at the entry level and its’ uncertainty. There are lots of startups, but only a few survive more than 5 years. During the field research I witnessed food entrepreneurs succeed and also fail miserably. My research explored the competitive landscape within the restaurant industry; an environment where convention is more easily challenged and imagination can flourish independent of systemized operations. Even though many trends change, some business principles remain, such as knowing your customer experience and keeping them happy.

In the study, I emphasize on the driving forces of effective business modeling and design thinking to sustain growth and popularity of a start up. Researching for new innovative concepts sometimes requires peeling back the layers and revisiting the basics. I have investigated the intersection of the two popular innovation management strategies- lean startup and design thinking- in order to showcase how they benefit food entrepreneurs to face uncertainty within the dynamic industry and prove that profitable new businesses are built upon efficient management and creativity. There is no one- size fits all approach for achieving innovation and success. However, the lean-design thinking combination enables food entrepreneurs to thoroughly build, test and progress their concept, which allows them to manage uncertainty in a more precise and confident way and carve out potential new successful niches.

Throughout my project, I have adopted the role of the Practivist – it is in my nature to push boundaries and foster new environments of innovation. My multicultural background and diverse experience within the entertainment industry have shaped my entrepreneurial skill set in a way that allows me to elaborate creativity and mobilization in order to grasp opportunities and unfold them in a consistent manner. Through creating new and flexible frameworks for start-ups I’m redefining business development in a multidisciplinary facet.

To learn more about the Practvist and Alice’s research, stay tuned for the upcoming MAIM 2015 Degree Show, taking place at Central Saint Martins in the week starting on the 24th of June.

*A Steak in Economy, C. Shanmugalingam (2013), Nesta