A little update:
We are back and better than ever! ¡Amo a Madrid con toda mi alma! These first five days have been packed with exploring the different neighborhoods, making new friends, and trying to understand what my host family is saying to me. I would have to say my favorite part of the trip so far has been bonding with my host family because there are SIX of them!! There are four kids and two parents and to say the least, something is always happening! Although some people might not like living with a larger host family because it can be overwhelming at times when they are all talking at dinner and you cannot follow along because everyone is talking at once, or you don’t know when they are talking to you because you assume they are talking to one of the children. I love getting to connect with each person and slowly becoming a part of the chaos. Overall, it has been the best five days of my life and I cannot wait to see what more is in store for this trip!
Back to the regularly scheduled program:
I start my internship on Wednesday at Smileat, an all organic baby food company, in their Supply Chain and Procurement Department. The company started in 2015 after the two co-founders realized that while organic food for children was very common in the United States, it was not very popular in Europe; organic food was only common for adults. Now, the company has expanded from two employees to 30 and has expanded from only selling products in stores in Spain to now also selling products in Portugal, the United Kingdom, and on their own online store.
In the food industry, there are special skills and strengths required to become a successful company. One strength that is essential to this industry is creativity. With so many competing companies that create the same types of products, it is important that businesses maintain a competitive advantage by developing new product types, product flavors, and different types of packaging. For example, Smileat has two similar product types, baby food in jars and then baby food in to-go packs. While these product flavors and textures are similar, the two types of packaging make them standout in comparison to other companies. Thinking of, testing, and then finally releasing these new advancements will help make a company successful and will help them stay that way. A skill that is important for start-up companies, not only in the food industry, but in any industry is having a website with good design quality. While this is beneficial for any company, it is especially important for start-ups because when a business is trying to bring attention to their brand, most people will find them on the internet. Hence, if a start-up does not have a website with high quality design, they will lose potential customers where in comparison, if companies are already well-known and they do not have a great website design, they will be better off because they already have loyal customers who will not be dissuaded from trying their products. I believe that Smileat has a good website design because it uses a pastel color palette (which is typically associated with baby products), its heading with links to the main pages stays when you click a link, it is easy to find what you are looking for which leads to a high conversion rate, and it offers an easy link to change the language of its website to the countries which it sells its products. While there are other skills necessary to thrive in the food industry, such as adaptability (which was seen during the pandemic), I believe creativity and a strong website design are the most important for start-ups.
A skill that is necessary, in my opinion, for organic food companies in Spain is communication. In Spain, organic food is not as popular of a topic in comparison to the United States. Common food here is ham, fruit, and everything carbs. However, the meat, fish, and fruit here are very fresh so people are not as worried as eating healthy or “clean”. Hence, if companies want to emphasize the importance of organic food, they need strong communication skills to convince potential customers here to change their habits and possibly even pay more to do so. Effective communication can be seen through social media postings, press releases on their website, and even selling their products in street markets (which are very popular in Spain).
In conclusion, my first week in Madrid has already been a blast and a great learning experience and I cannot wait to start my internship this week!
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