The Business of Food

an Akimbo Workshop with Will Rosenzweig

One of the biggest industries on the planet is changing (fast). This is your chance to learn from the experts and find a way to lead, to contribute and to build a successful project that transforms the way we eat.

Join entrepreneur, author and teacher Will Rosenzweig in a workshop inspired by his acclaimed UC Berkeley classes on food entrepreneurship and food systems innovation.

He’s joined by chef Alice Waters, investors, farmers and other successful leaders in this one-of-a-kind, hands-on exploration of an industry in flux.

Like all Akimbo workshops, the curriculum and lectures are just the beginning.

These workshops work because you do the work together. You will engage with other students and with the industry experts supported by a team of coaches. Discover new insights and build out actionable business plans to guide you as go forward.


It’s all changing

The food system is more complex than we realize. It’s a web of interconnected relationships and disciplines, most run by small, entrepreneurial organizations. (But, dominated by antiquated giants!)

The way food tastes, is produced, distributed and eaten has everything to do with our personal, public and planetary sustainability. And the rapid change that’s going on creates exciting opportunities.

Unprecedented amounts of early stage capital are being invested in a wide variety of products, services, platforms and technologies that address:

  • personal and planetary health
  • sustainability
  • supply chains
  • agriculture
  • personalized nutrition
  • food technology
  • and more…

In the next decade, long-term industry incumbents will be absorbed or replaced by new innovative food and agriculture (and related) businesses. In this shift many new multidisciplinary roles for entrepreneurial leaders will emerge. With your skills, background and insights, lead this charge, innovating solutions to the some of the biggest challenges in our food system.

It’s happening everywhere

Will Rosenzweig has worked with food designers, farmers, chefs, restaurateurs and marketers around the world. He’s led the innovation and venture capital activities for two of the largest food companies on the planet, engaged with arugula farmers in Ontario, Michelin starred chef in Pocantico Hills, and software entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.

During his celebrated tenure on the faculty of the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and as Founding Dean of the Food Business School at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) he’s developed an insider’s expertise around the systems that exist (and those that are changing.)

Mostly, Will’s a teacher. From his early work with the Republic of Tea, he’s helped others see what he sees, bricklaying work in changing the culture for the better.

Everybody eats (but now it’s different)

The biggest marketplace on earth (food!) is changing at an unprecedented speed. What we eat, how we eat, where we eat–it’s all up for grabs, as culture and taste change faster than ever.

There has never been a more urgent moment, or one more full with opportunity, to reinvent the food system. Food is a unifying common denominator, and no matter where you live, or what you do, you have the opportunity to effect significant change in the food space.

Starting a food business, organization, or campaign these days may seem simple. Sustaining and scaling a that venture? Not so much.

What is the workshop like?

Building on actual lectures from Will’s acclaimed course at UC Berkeley, this workshop is strategic. It begins with helping you see how the worldwide food infrastructure was created and where it’s going–and it ends with a deep dive into brainstorming, mentorship and cash flow.

Here are some excerpts from the wide-ranging curriculum:

  • The call for food systems transformation
  • Health from the soil Up
  • Are restaurant careers sustainable?
  • Taking action on diversity and inclusion in the food industry
  • The chef-farmer partnership
  • Learning and knowing food systems
  • Food systems entrepreneurship

Will’s extraordinary skill as a teacher combines with the experience and first-hand knowledge of his guests to create precisely the sort of foundation that you’ll need to see the systems of the food industry.

You won’t find tactical shortcuts here, or small-ball gimmicks about how to increase your sales at the local farmer’s market. Instead, you’ll have the chance to be inspired by industry changemakers, and you’ll be challenged to outline your own path to doing the work that matters. Watch the workshop preview to get a sense of what it's like inside.

How do you choose the right path to take your idea to the next level—with intensity, efficiency and authenticity?

Industry-leading faculty, with expert, business-building experience, will guide you through a rigorous process of discovery to move you from insight to execution, generating new growth options, and charting the most promising path to scale.

We’ve run a dozen Akimbo workshops so far, and we’ve found that students each find their own path. Some primarily engage with the materials (there are more than ten hours of video, plus exclusive Q&As and sidebars), while others spend most of their time and effort with the cohort, seeking out other students and building years-long collaborations and mastermind groups.

About Will Rosenzweig

“The savviest M.B.A. in food” -Bon Appetit

Social Impact Fellow, UC Berkeley, Haas School of Business

Faculty Co-Chair at Berkeley Haas Center for Responsible Business, Sustainable Food Initiative

Senior Advisor, Generation Investment Management

Recipient of the 2010 Oslo Business for Peace Award

Will is an internationally recognized entrepreneur, educator and an avid gardener

He has spent over 25 years cultivating thriving startups while teaching and mentoring mission-driven entrepreneurs around the world. Will was founding CEO (and Minister of Progress) of The Republic of Tea and co-author of The Republic of Tea: How an Idea Becomes a Business, which was named one of the 100 Best Business Books of All Time.

Will has served on the professional faculty of the Haas School of Business at UC, Berkeley, since 1999 where he is a Social Impact Fellow. He currently leads Food Innovation Studio, a cross-disciplinary graduate innovation course, and Edible Education 101 with Alice Waters.

In 2015, Will founded and was named Dean of The Food Business School at The Culinary Institute of America and in 2016, he was named one of seven people shaping the Future of Food by Bon Appetit magazine.

This workshop runs in conjunction with UC Berkeley, one of America’s top-ranked universities.

Guest lecturers include:

  • Alice Waters, the beloved founder of California-style cuisine and long-time owner of Chez Panisse.
  • Kristin Richmond, co-founder and CEO of Revolution Foods, leading purveyor of healthy school meals in the US
  • Sheryl O'Loughlin, co-founder Plum Organics
  • Walter Robb, former CEO of Whole Foods
  • John Foraker, former CEO of Annie's and Once Upon A Farm
  • Michiel Bakker, head of Google food
  • Danny Meyer, founder of Shake Shack
  • Sam Kass, former White House nutrition policy advisor

What students say about Will's courses

"Food Innovation Studio has been transformational in the way I think about the food systems, particularly within the private sector. This course is the perfect space to learn from seasoned industry leaders about the food industry, gain a deep understanding of the existing tensions within the space, and identify opportunities to take action in impactful ways." –Maria Balcazar Tellez

“I entered the class with a passion for food, but little idea on how I can make an impact on transforming the food system. I left the class with a clear idea on areas the food system needs transforming and places I personally can help.” –Aun Hussain

"Food Innovation Studio was an eye-opening experience that challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone and experience a different side of the food and agriculture space. I was privileged to meet and hear from leaders in various industries whose experiences and approaches were revelatory. As a graduate student in public policy, I appreciated the interdisciplinary nature of the class, the open-mindedness of the instructor, and the support of my peers." –Karin Vosgueritchian

"Will’s class has been invaluable to me in transforming how I think about the food system. He brought in many insightful and thought-provoking speakers, and, more importantly, pushed me to think bigger and more creatively in my own opportunity-seeking and problem-solving." –Elaine Hsu

"Food Innovation Studio provided me a space to explore the Food System through fascinating course content and by providing me contact with some of the biggest leaders and innovators in the field. Perhaps even more valuable was the clarity afforded from the push to deeply look inward, explore, and develop my own ideas and aspirations." –Aaron Hall

"Exceeded all expectations. I am a veteran entrepreneur with 40 years of experience. This was the most constructive a seminar I have attended in my professional life." –Dave Ereth

"The intensive feedback loops from the highly qualified diverse professors and classmates. I am dramatically more prepared and more confident to achieve the next critical milestones for my success, specifically pitch my business to investors and large scale clients." –Sean Lenihan

Is this for you?

If you’re open to innovation, to building and growing a business that works in the fast-moving world of feeding the planet, we’d love to have you join this workshop. This workshop will appeal to lifelong learners as well as to people with no formal training.

Among other principles, we’ll cover the disciplines of:

  • human-centered design
  • the creative tension model
  • lean-launch
  • rapid prototyping
  • business model development
  • venture formation
  • venture pitch-presentation

All of these are blended into an accelerated experiential learning program with more than 10 sessions. The course also features leading food industry experts and entrepreneurs as guest speakers and mentors.

You’ll need a keyboard

The Business of Food Workshop, like all of the Akimbo workshops, is about learning by doing. Even better, it’s about finding and engaging with the others on the same journey.

This is a safe place to try out your ideas, to engage with fellow travelers, to find a niche that can become yours. In all of these workshops, it’s the interactions with other students that change the game. This course will also get you up to speed on the pressing dynamics and opportunities in the food system and help you to become a systems thinker.

How do you turn a great food idea into a product on a grocery store shelf?

This is an inspiring, invigorating blend of short lectures, longer lectures, group discussion, and guided, hands-on teamwork to speed your concept into a product or mission ready to take to market.

After the lectures and short lessons (and hundreds or thousands of peer-to-peer interactions), you’ll leave with actionable insights, heightened skills in identifying (and choosing between) opportunities, and cadre of business tools and methods for analysis and entrepreneurial business building.

The workshop has no exams and no grades. You’re here to level up, not to get a fancy certificate.

Do work that matters

The Business of Food is inspired by UC Berkeley’s Food Innovation Studio and Edible Education 101 courses. It draws on Seth Godin’s innovative Akimbo approach to education.

This course is a co-creation of Will, student learners and industry expert guests, who bring their perspectives and passions to the workshopin ways intended to inform and inspire you to bridge innovation and purpose through your business.

We open the door for you, but it’s the cohorts of students that drive it forward.

With The Business of Food, the workshop lessons and discussion board will guide you to developing food-systems intelligence—a personal understanding of how the diverse facets of the food system relate and depend on one another, especially one's own role as a participant in the food system and how one's choices, actions and behaviors affect it. We’d like to see our next generation of eaters and leaders develop consciousness and intention as “systems actors” and systems thinkers.

The workshop brings cutting edge thought leadership and case studies to life, while giving you a forum to pressure test your ideas with a group of diverse and talented peers.

We will highlight evidence-based innovations and entrepreneurial solutions throughout the course and invite students to formulate solutions and plans at an individual, local, regional, national and global scale.

The course emphasizes mission-driven venture designs that not only create competitive business outcomes, but positive social and environmental impact as well.

What is the workshop like?

This is a community of people who know that they can always become better--and make things better along the way. All of us know more than any of us, and your ability to help someone else see what’s right in front of them will come back to you fifty times over inside of this workshop.

The focus is up to you: you can build something. You can contribute to others. And you can experience the joy of learning.

People inside our workshops don’t care where you came from, but they’re very interested in where you’re going.

How It Works

Who is the workshop for?

The workshop is for people with curiousity and commitment. Maybe you already have an idea or a dream who would like grow an existing food business or make their debut into the food sector. It’s for inexperienced people who feel like they have a lot to learn, and for veterans who know that they have a lot to offer.

Whether you are a first time food entrepreneur in need of guidance or a food veteran who wants to learn from other experienced food professionals, here you will have the chance to go deep and collaborate.

You will learn the most recent thinking in innovation as well as have the opportunity to work one-on-one with master formulators, supply chain experts, rapid prototyping pros, innovation mavens and branding specialists to test, evolve and transform your food vision into a food reality.

Pricing details

The workshop costs $745. See our FAQ for details.

Show Your Work Money Back Guarantee: Our workshops are incredibly effective. Check out what our alumni have to say. Still, just in case you’re hesitating, consider our 100% guarantee for this workshop. If you find that it hasn't met your expectations, simply drop us a note after you've participated through all the lessons in the workshop and we’ll refund your entire tuition. We've found that when our students contribute to the workshop, they get back far more than they put into it.

Timing details

We haven’t released the dates for the next session. If you're interested in joining, be sure to sign up for the Tell Me More list. We’ll send you an email to let you know when the next interactive session is about to begin.

An effective way to get to where you’re headed and make a difference

More than 10,000 people have taken our other Akimbo workshops. We’re continuing to build a powerful new way to learn—not to pass a test, but to make a difference, to find the insight and confidence to move forward.

You can read some of the hundreds of student testimonials herehere.

Now, we’re applying this proven technique to an all-new workshop, one for people who want to build a food project (small at first) that they own. We’re doing this because it works.

This isn’t a shortcut, nor is it an overnight road to riches. Instead, we’re focusing on helping you find a useful project, an endeavor worthy of your effort, a chance to do work that matters, work you can be proud of.

The Business of Food Workshop includes:

  • 10 video lessons, including conversations with special experts and prompts
  • Questions to guide and advance your thinking
  • Support from trained coaches who will challenge you to go further and dig deeper
  • 24/7 discussion board for personal feedback for the full 80 days of the workshop
  • Peer network for discussion and group learning
  • Access on mobile and desktop (but desktop is preferred for interaction)
  • Q&A with Will Rosenzweig and expert food system entrepreneurs and mentors

Please join us on this journey to make things better… by making better food.

Your chance to make a difference

Tell Me More