Entrepreneurship is any activity of the entrepreneur who always concentrates on innovation. An entrepreneur is one who combines various factors of input in an innovative manner so as to generate quality and value to the customers within the limits of the available inputs. Innovation can be made by the introduction of new products, modification of the existing products, new feasible production methods, identification of new markets, and new forms of organization. Innovation thus helps in bringing profit, new demand, and overall well-being of the organization. In order to attain long-term growth in business, continuous innovation and identification of prospective customers are important in business. Innovation can be made in any factor such as product, service, or process of business.
With the increasing price of fruits and other food items, it is impossible to make a profit from the food industry by depending on the sales of traditional food items in the market. Manufacturers are experimenting with an exotic and wide variety of flavors with unusual ingredients. Exotic food means charming, unexpected flavors with colored dishes. It may appear strange and adopts a new way of cooking. Exotic foods are common in confectionery products. Many of the producers are experimenting with exotic food to meet the demands of a wide range of customers. Supermarkets are placing so many food items which seem to be like homemade foods. Cultural factor matters much in supermarkets and suppliers need to understand the taste of the local customers. All fresh sandwiches have high demand in major cities of France and Switzerland. Swiss food is very much influenced by neighbors such as France, Germany, Austria, and Italy. They mainly include dairy products such as butter and cheese as an important part of their diet, and now recently, they are showing greater interest in exotic food. “Specialty dishes from each of these countries have long been intertwined with local, regional specialties to produce a simple but substantial cuisine centering on soups, bread, and nourishing cheese, egg, and vegetable dishes. Recent trends in foods have attempted more exotic fare adapted from Chinese and Malaysian cooking but retaining mildness in flavor.” (Swiss foods, customs, and culture: The local customs, culture, and foods of Switzerland, 2008).
There is a growing demand for exotic food in France. “EU supplies many of France’s fruit and vegetable imports; there is a growing demand for exotic produce.” (Gauthier, 2004).
Idea generation methods
Entrepreneurs can generate ideas, and problems can be solved by various methods such as Brainwriting, checklist method, free association, etc. Brainwriting is a method similar to brainstorming. Brainwriting is more convenient in large groups to generate new ideas. It helps to visible ideas of all members in the group. In brainstorming, a group of various levels of managers and employees is sitting together to discuss ideas for generating innovative ideas. The main difference between Brainwriting and brainstorming is that in Brainwriting, individuals in the group provide ideas without any verbal interaction.
The checklist Method is a new idea developed through a list of related issues. The entrepreneur can use the list of questions to guide the development of an idea.
Free association is one of the simplest methods to generate new ideas. A word related to the problem is written down, then another, with each word adding something to the thought process.
Exotic foods business in France
An analysis of France and Switzerland shows that both countries are stable enough, both politically and economically, for sound business investments. But a deeper analysis indicates that France is more ideal to start the exotic food business. There are many reasons for this section. France is surrounded by as many as eight countries. What sets it apart from Switzerland is that it has a coastline which is ideal for sea trade. Importing food raw materials by sea is much cheaper than by land or air. Exotic foods will need ingredients that are not grown in France and hence need to be imported. Costs on these imports can be kept low if shipping by sea is used. Like most European countries, France is also encouraging foreign investment, which is good for the economy. The country is also economically stable with reasonable levels of inflation. It also has investor-friendly trade policies. Politically too, France has a long history of democracy, and its governments have always been democratically elected (at least after the French Revolution and the reign of Napoleon). The French are known as connoisseurs of fine food, unlike the Swiss (known mainly for chocolates and cheese). They also have a reputation for trying out new tastes and trends. The only precaution to be taken is that they do not prefer too strong tastes and flavors and hence prefer their foods to be varied but subtle in taste.
The entrepreneurial process
It is proposed that exotic foods shall be made available in ready-to-cook packages in stores and supermarkets in the country, especially in Paris. The city has the advantage of being a very popular tourist destination and also has a varied ethnic population. Both factors are advantageous to this business. Malaysian and Chinese fare has always been available in the country, though in subtle tastes. The new idea is to mix such flavors with local cuisine and also with other popular items such as pizzas and macaroni. The following methods were used in developing new products to be marketed. They include using focus groups (a small group of French and Chinese, numbering ten). A brainstorming and brainwriting session was also conducted. Several new ideas for food products with potential turned up. One such example is given here. Chinese noodles with varied and subtle flavors can be used as a pizza topping. The meat and vegetable additives can also be of oriental origin. The package can contain a pizza base with noodles packed separately within the package. The innovative part is that customers can be given a choice of fresh vegetables (or meat) which they can purchase along with the noodle pizza package. Cooking instructions, as well as suggestions, can be provided on the back of the package. The package will be attractive, compact, and will have French and Chinese pictures, words, and symbols. A separate form inside the package can be provided where customers can bring out their own ideas. This can be sent to the company office in France, and an expert chef can select a feasible idea for marketing. The entries can be given prizes, and the selected entry (for marketing) can be given a grand prize. Simple market research using questionnaires will follow this in order to substantiate the feasibility of the above ideas.
The next step followed was the formation of a skeleton staff which included a Chinese and French chef and a marketing manager. The entrepreneur, along with his staff, conducted a problem inventory analysis with the help of another group. A list of potential problems like lack of taste, preservation, additives and other preservatives, ethnocentrism, etc., were listed out for identification with the products. Most of the new ideas (for products) were seen to be feasible even after this process. Another interesting and useful method done with this group prior to problem inventory analysis was the Gordon Method. The group, at that time, was not told why they were assembled. They were just told that the given problems were associated with a new concept in ready-to-cook packaging. They came up with such ideas as subtle and varied tastes, safe ingredients and preservatives, packaging that will appeal to French tastes, etc. This was in agreement with the ideas that were developed by the focus group earlier. They were then told that the actual product was a European Chinese mix. More ideas for new products came about, which incorporates all of the suggestions till that time. A forced relationship approach was also conducted. A list of all possible Chinese foods and flavors was presented, and participants were requested to force combinations of these with European flavors. Many ideas came up but were rejected as being not practical or appealing to the taste buds. But a few more product combinations turned up after these sessions. Since a shape and plan was already taking place, a big dream approach was not adopted. Such an approach is to basically form a new concept from scratch and hence not needed here.
Unique selling propositions
It was identified that the product would be innovative in taste. A combination of European and oriental tastes can be had at the same time. Customers can innovate by selecting a variety of meat and vegetable toppings. They also have a chance to show off their creativity through new product combination suggestions.
Development and planning process
The idea, concept, and product development stage has been completed. The next step is to start making the actual products for test marketing. A small team (mentioned earlier) was used for this process. Three product combinations were developed, and a small team was hired to make them available to customers (in Paris) as free samples. They visited all types of households (with prior permission), and the response was encouraging enough to go ahead with full production. Arrangements were made with stores and supermarkets in the city (to be expanded later) for selling the products. A small building on the outskirts of the city was identified as a production and packaging center. Arrangements were made with suppliers in Asia to supply those ingredients not available in France. The perishable raw materials will be transported mainly by air.
The products are now ready to be marketed. Once marketing begins, more refinement can be done. New products can be added, and the less popular ones can be taken off. The advantage in this business is that there can be a huge variety of combinations that can be tested. Even if many are not feasible, there will remain many more which can be successfully marketed. An e-commerce site will only be incorporated later. At present, a simple website about the company and its products will suffice. The venture has huge possibilities and has every chance of success with innovation, control, and sound marketing.
Gauthier, Roselyne. (2004). Competitive, but lucrative: France’s food service industry: Yellow light possibilities vs Obstacles. FAS Online. 2008. Web.
Swiss foods, customs and culture: The local customs, culture and foods of Switzerland. (2008). Food and Culture Resources. Web.