The Making of a Virtual Internship Program
It’s no news that the last half-year has been a wild ride for all of us. As Mycorena has previously covered in a range of articles on various topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic, no industry has stayed out of harms way. We are hardly going out on a limb by saying that by now, entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and public bodies all over the world have had many opportunities to get frustrated. Cancelled events, postponed meetings, hesitant customers, insecure supply chains, risk-averse financiers, government-imposed restrictions. The list goes on. Exactly what the endgame of this crazy situation will be is not clear, but two implications are already obvious:
- Entrepreneurs have been faced with an ultimatum: Either you find ways to speed up and move on, or you find ways to cope with slowing down and moving out.
- Employees are facing the most uncertain labor market in recent memory, and must be quick and agile in finding worthwhile occupation in order to stay afloat.
At Mycorena, we sat down to think long and hard about how to grapple with these two issues. How could we ensure that our success journey maintained its speed, while simultaneously making a difference for talents facing a mass of companies who are not hiring? After some rapid brainstorming and ideation, we quickly reached the conclusion that we would launch our first ever Virtual Internship for aspiring business developers and food scientists! The benefit of helping young careerists #KeepGoing in turbulent times while simultaneously having the ability to create real value for Mycorena was an opportunity that was just too great to pass up!
Peeking into The Program
In this article, you will be familiarized with some of the most important insights from the Market Research track of the Mycorena 2020 Virtual Internship Program. Over a few intense weeks, five highly proactive and ambitious students and new graduates worked on a range of topics of high importance to the business team at Mycorena. We are proud to say that they all delivered an excellent output that has been immediately adopted by our organization!
Consumer is King
Despite our B2B business model where we sell the innovative Promyc® fungi-based protein to food manufacturers, we always stay aligned with expectations from the end consumer. For that reason, our intern Andreas was tasked with analyzing current consumer trends as well as key developments within the food retail market. Some of the key insights that Andreas expertly dug out for Mycorena turned out to be the huge need for suppliers to respond quickly to demand fluctuations, and the growing interest in developing private label and store brands for vegan foods.
The Age of Private Labelling
Speaking of private label, did you know that the private label food market is actually growing faster than the segment for manufacturer food brands? Or that there is an increasingly large interest for premium private label brands that perform outstandingly well on aspects such as sustainability and culinary quality? Until after the Virtual Internship Program, neither did we! These insights, among many others, were delivered through a meticulous analysis of the private label market by Malin, who did very well to open our eyes to the promise and potential of this exciting business model.
Food Ingredients – Fad or Favorable?
Another part of the food industry where Mycorena’s solution can create huge financial and environmental value is the food ingredients market. A segment with high complexity and fierce competition, understanding it at its core is no easy task. Lucky for us, we had the pleasure of working with Preksha, who took a real deep dive into the world of food ingredients and taught us everything there is to know about ingredient product life cycles, the level of market fragmentation, and what suppliers look for.
While food ingredients remain a hugely interesting application area for Promyc, pure meat substitutes are perhaps an even more obvious use case for our innovative fungi-based protein. With our product having so much potential, the question is just: where should we take it first? Our UK-based intern Jyoti took it upon her to answer this question, and delivered an outstanding analysis of the European geographical markets for meat substitutes. Her insights were immediately used in shaping our decisions on what markets to focus on!
From Farm to Fork
What about the bigger picture? How does your steak, veggies, plant-based burger or delicious tempeh travel from farm to fork? How does it all fit together, really? No easy questions to answer, but Michael took it upon himself with enthusiasm! Using an extensive self-developed framework with parameters as diverse as operating margins, average R&D spending, and category management, he provided actionable insights on what parts of the value chain Mycorena should primarily focus on.
Wrapping Up and Moving On
Looking back at the Virtual Internship Program, the Mycorena team is incredibly proud and happy to have expanded our network and to have worked with such an amazing group of ambitious people. Not only have we learned countless new things, but can also be proud to have contributed positively to the career development of some of the brightest rising stars within FoodTech and business development in Sweden and abroad. What is more is that we have also learned a lot about entrepreneurship and innovation in troubled times, including:
- Every difficulty can be turned into an opportunity, and seizing it is more dependent on your speed, dedication and ability to adapt than anything else
- The complex and rapidly changing world we live in demands that organizations everywhere remain agile and flexible in problem solving and ways of working
- Talent is everywhere, and growing your company with the right skills no longer hinges on geographical distance or access to physical assets
- Mindset, cultural fit, and alignment of incentives have taken the front seat of 21st century work culture, and strategy is only king while execution is king kong
At the Mycorena business team, we move forward in 2020 and beyond feeling energized and inspired from having completed our first ever Virtual Internship Program. The best is yet to come, and be sure to look out for future opportunities to #KeepGoing with us in a constantly evolving world!