Industry Update
Opinion Article27 May 2015

From Concept to Impact: Beginning with the End in Mind

Highlights from the 2015 Cornell Hospitality Entrepreneurship Roundtable

By Mona Anita Olsen, Visiting Assistant Professor, Assistant Academic Director of the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship

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Executive Summary: The entrepreneurial process of concept to impact, focusing on the importance of beginning with the end in mind, was a major theme for the inaugural hospitality entrepreneurship roundtable at the School of Hotel Administration. Sponsored by The Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship, the roundtable addressed the top issues that face entrepreneurs now and in the near future. In that context, roundtable participants discussed five major issues: funding, franchising, legal concerns, opportunity recognition, and technology. Franchising remains a strategic vehicle for business development, although the nature of franchising has changed in recent years as multi-unit operators have risen to prominence. Another funding source, the Small Business Administration, can be a valuable source of funding, according to some panel members, and it is also possible to use crowd funding or networking to find investors or lenders for a concept. Accepting funding from investors requires careful attention to legal agreements, because the entrepreneur risks lawsuits without such covenants in place. Technology can be a substantial expense for hospitality businesses, and the restaurant industry particularly faces considerable potential for disruption from such technologies such as 3D printers and robots. One of the major trends for restaurants is the concept restaurant, but roundtable participants were concerned that basic hospitality can be lost if an entrepreneur focuses too tightly on a concept. In the end, the gauge for success of any concept or business is not publicity—although that is important—but revenue and the bottom line.

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Mona Anita Olsen

Mona Anita K. Olsen is a visiting assistant professor and the assistant academic director of the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship. Olsen teaches courses in entrepreneurship. She is the recipient of a Small Private Online Class (SPOC) Grant from the Office of the Vice Provost for her course Technology for Bootstrapped Entrepreneurship, and of the Zalaznick Teaching Assistantship Award.

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