Frozen desserts, spicy sauces and burrito-sized sushi rolls added flavor to a food entrepreneurship conference organized by Smith School undergraduate students on Nov. 16, 2015.
“This event is like a startup company that will last exactly three hours,” Smith School professor Oliver Schlake told the audience of about 200 guests at the school’s Shady Grove campus in Rockville, Md. “It’s a learning experience.”
Following a series of keynote presentations, participants roamed among tables, tasting products and making connections with entrepreneurs on the front lines of the food and entertainment scene in Washington, D.C.
David Jones ’84, owner of Copper Canyon Grill and other Washington restaurants, talked about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. “Our failures are the places where we learn the most,” he said.
He also talked about the need for systems and controls, which allow entrepreneurs to scale up when they no longer can micromanage every restaurant in their chain. “With a CPA background, that’s the kind of stuff that I enjoy,” he said. “The systems and controls are about as important as the actual concept.”
Ryan Seelbach, founder of Seelbach Entertainment Group and The Huxley nightclub, highlighted the importance of face-to-face connections in the food and entertainment industry. “Hospitality cannot be sold on the Internet,” he said. “It’s a bricks and mortar business.” /DJ/