My Food Innovation Program – a deep consideration about my overall experience.

By September 26, 2016Uncategorized

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The Food Innovation Program 2.0 is arriving, a comprehensive educational platform that offers a selection of unique and innovative initiatives, targeting students and professionals, designed to inspire and empower a new generation of creative and responsible food entrepreneurs and food innovators. Chiara Cecchini, former student of the program is one of them:

The ship is safest when it’s in port, but that’s not what ships were built for.

I think this quote perfectly suits the path I have taken over the last 18 months. If I look back I see a lot. I wish I had mapped each of my days during the last year and a half, as they were so intense that it’s incredibly hard to try to remember everything. What I have, without needing detailed notes, is  a feeling. How I feel today and how I felt 18 months ago: for this I don’t really need an excellent memory, it’s all about my gut feelings.

Despite that, I have some figures. I’ve always being fascinated by numbers trying to track everything I can. The last 18 months took my shiny red suitcase and me to stay in 21 different houses over 18 different cities, taking 32 flights and 322 trains. I incorporated my first company, deployed 8 mobile applications and involved 5 different universities in over 3 continents. I’ve always loved to explore but I’ve never reached this point before. And yet I continue feeling is that it’s never enough.

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Coming from a business background I was in Moscow, about to finish a MSc in International Management, when I first heard about the Program. My thought was that there wasn’t any possibility to dive in another master. “It’s impossible,”  I said. I wasn’t ready to come back to Italy and I didn’t want to leave my business focus. I didn’t want to move forward before having closed the Moscow chapter. I needed order.

Yet somehow, four months later, I was in Reggio Emilia, about to start the first edition of the Food Innovation Program. This was that gut feeling that some people say to follow. And I did.

Now, “impossible” is a word I try not to use. “Make it tangible and it will be real and ready for improvements.” This is one of the main takeaways I got from the Program. “Just do it and than we’ll go from there.” My eagerness for perfection was smashed down and I’ve been learning how it is more important just to do it: to start, to move, to build.

It’s almost ironic, but somehow the focus is what frees me to explore. Now, my business focus is the common denominator in all my activities. Selling the right value, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time is never possible without changing focus and exploring what’s out there. It is hard but I’m trying to explore and make it real, explore and make it real, explore and make it real again. Iteration after iteration, divergence after convergence.

I could never have had such a shift without all the people I met during the last 18 months.

 

After the Program I incorporated Feat with two partners. Feat is a tiny company which is trying to grow. We launched the first prototype (FeatApp) in January 2016, the second one (Feat.Med) in April and the third one (FeatSummerSchool) in July. We involved students, employees, and families from all over the globe. Around 10.000 people from 17 different countries. I’m satisfied, although it’s never seems enough.

18 months ago I’d have said that the project is still in process, trying to figure out uncertain parts of the model. Now, I say that the project is running, it’s getting some traction and it is (fortunately) continuously iterating, adapting step by step to users and clients’ needs.

I changed my way of seeing opportunities and I think this is the most valuable take-away.

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