High-Impact Entrepreneurship

eMBA 2014 Field Report: Engineering for Growth in Chile – an Adventure with CORBAC Foods

Each summer Endeavor sends a number of incoming and second-year MBA students, recruited from top schools, to work on-site with Endeavor Entrepreneurs on projects ranging from strategic planning to market expansion. The program is supported by a generous grant from Barclays. Following is a post from Billy Mata, a member of Babson College’s MBA Class of 2015, who spent the summer working with Endeavor Entrepreneurs at Chile’s CORBAC Foods.

eMBA_webHow often do you get the chance to go to the beach one day and the next day be snowboarding at the top of the Andes?  Unless you are in Santiago, your possibility of doing so is very slim, if any. I had always wanted to go to Santiago, Chile but never seemed to have the chance, the time or the money to do so.

When I started my MBA at Babson I knew that this was the moment for me to travel while taking advantage of opportunities to expand my learning experience and have an impact in the places I went, by engaging with purpose-driven organizations.  Endeavor was a perfect fit. Through their eMBA program, I was able to connect with Christian Cortes, the Endeavor Entrepreneur behind CORBAC Foods, in order to engage for 10 weeks in an intensive consulting project focused on strategic planning and execution to support the company’s growth.

CORBAC Foods is a food production and ingredients company that develops solutions for industrial, retail and end customers using – mainly – protein from animal sources.  Some of its most important clients include Nestle and Wal-Mart. CORBAC is strongly positioned in the industrial segment where it supplies dehydrated meats as an ingredient for ready-to-eat soups, rice and pasta.  For its retail customers, CORBAC operates as a food service company and provides sauces, dressings and cooking powders.  For end customers, CORBAC developed VORO, a dog treat that is made of natural and human grade protein, which allows pet owners to treat their pets as an additional family member.

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A view of Valle Nevado in Chile, courtesy of Billy

When I first met with Christian on a Sunday afternoon to have lunch paired with a glass of (Chilean) wine I got inspired about the project and was eager to help him achieve his dream.  Christian told me how he started his company with $1,000 US dollars, how he managed to take it to where it was today, and how he wants to double the company’s revenue in three years and have it grow five-fold in the next few years. I needed to figure out how we would do that and I had no doubt that it was possible.  After all, I came to Chile to be challenged, and this was a big and exciting one.

After the first week of working with Christian and understanding the company, the industry and the team better, there were two main insights that would dictate how we would engineer the company to prepare it for its growth plans:

Many of the capabilities and skills that brought CORBAC to the point it was at today could hinder the company’s growth going forward

There is a tradeoff between customization and standardization; it’s hard to grow and scale with a customized and single client product portfolio

After we agreed on those two key points, we laid out a work plan which would create the base for growth.  Essentially, there were five aspects of the business that we needed to be crystal clear about and that we would work on:

Aspiration: Develop a clear sense of where the company is going.

Where to play: The industries, regions, customer segments and distribution channels that will be the focus going forward.

How to win: Identify the sources of competitive advantage and capabilities that will enable CORBAC to achieve its growth ambition.

Strategic priorities: The initiatives, capabilities and tasks that need to take place to achieve success.

Plan to generate results: Execute the strategy and align the organization.

Upon reflecting upon my time in Chile with Christian and the CORBAC team so far, I hope I have had a great impact in the company to propel it to the next level.  It is always refreshing to work with passionate entrepreneurs that never settle and are always looking to grow their companies and themselves as people.

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