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Santa Clara University Executive MBAs Collaborate with Food Service Startups

Day-long Workshop with Food Service Incubator Features Real Life Crisis Intervention

With COVID-19 health regulations virtually shutting down the global food service industry, the Executive MBA program recently partnered with prominent food start-up incubator KitchenTown, located in San Mateo, Calif., for an intense Saturday workshop that matched the business skills of Silicon Valley’s future leaders to the challenges of some of the Bay Area’s leading culinary creators.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (October 7, 2020)

With COVID-19 health regulations virtually shutting down the global food service industry, the Executive MBA students at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business recently came to the rescue of several innovative Bay Area food start-ups. 

The Executive MBA program, ranked #11 in the U.S. by US News & World Report, recently partnered with a prominent food start-up incubator KitchenTown, located in San Mateo, Calif., for an intense Saturday workshop that matched the business skills of Silicon Valley’s future leaders to the challenges of some of the Bay Area’s leading culinary creators.

KitchenTown is a food start-up incubator that champions innovation and positive change to the world’s food ecosystem, from the ground up. It plays a critical role in the development, commercialization, and launch of transformational food products through a global community of food entrepreneurs and innovators to support each other and create a new sustainable food ecosystem.

Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the plans of many of the nearly 50 companies who call KitchenTown home; this despite an innovative curbside pick-up program. This has created a near-death knell for culinary creativity. Beyond the logistical problems facing the food service industry in the wake of a pandemic, many of the organizations are also struggling with the difficulties of operating a business in an economic recession. This is where the collaboration with Santa Clara University's top-notch EMBA program proved especially beneficial.

“I was amazed by the depth of what was accomplished in the challenges in such a short time. The content produced was spot on and the level of personal commitment to the projects by the MBA students was really striking. Hands down it was a huge success!,” explained Rusty Schwartz, Founder, and CEO, KitchenTown.

As part of their immersion within their EMBA curriculum, the executive program students were paired with selected starts-up and spent an intensive day resolving business problems ranging from the financial, to marketing, to supply chain and a variety of company-specific problems in between.

“Our collaboration with KitchenTown creates a rare opportunity for students to call upon their cross-functional knowledge in an experiential, dynamic, start-up environment where real lives and real dreams are fulfilled,” explains Dr. Kumar Surangee, the EMBA program’s faculty director.

From the student’s perspective, the day-long interaction represented a rare opportunity to take what was learned in the classroom and apply to real problems with real consequences for any missteps.

“KitchenTown provided an excellent opportunity to apply the business and financial solutions we are learning in the SCU EMBA program to an entrepreneurial start-up. It was a pleasure to share my extensive experience in the consumer package goods space with an emerging brand looking to move to the next step in their growth and distribution,” said Genelle Chetcuti, who during the week serves as Vice President of Marketing at the RW Garcia company while participating in the Executive MBA program on Friday evenings and weekends.

“We strive to educate our students to be competent, conscientious, and compassionate individuals. But rarely have I seen these values come to life the way have through the work that these EMBA students have done with KitchenTown. ,” said Toby McChesney, Senior Assistant Dean of the Leavey School of Business. To watch the profound impact they are having on overcoming the consequence of the current pandemic is what Jesuit education is all about.”

About Santa Clara University 

Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see www.scu.edu

About Leavey School of Business

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the most dynamic business environments in the world, the Leavey School of Business combines academic excellence in the 450-year Jesuit tradition, with an energetic, innovative spirit that typifies the region. Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business offers one of the nation's best graduate business programs ranked No. 11 Executive MBA by U.S News & World Report, No. 25 ranked Evening MBA by U.S News & World Report and No. 25 ranked Online MBA by The Princeton Review

For more information, visit www.scu.edu/business.

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