Business in the Food Industry: Latvian Entrepreneur Enno Ence
How do businesses create and manage their corporate culture?
Professor Ieva Jakobsone Bellomi’s class Organizational Behaviour welcomed Latvian entrepreneur Enno Ence, who delivered a talk on how to build a business in the food industry. He founded “MILZU!”, a producer of breakfast cereals that competes against Kellogg’s and other major brands.
“MILZU!” exports its products to different countries, including the United States, and the company is planning to expand to South America. How can a newcomer compete successfully against strong, well-established brands? Ence relies heavily on four key elements: human resources, criticism, brand image, and evolution.
The workers are the most important factor, as they represent the entire business. Ence believes that during recruitment the best applicants are those who establish a connection with the recruiters within the first 15 minutes. There is a “gut feeling” component to the process that he has tested over time. Moreover, workers should share the same values and goals in order to have a robust organizational culture.
Criticism is essential to identify new target segments. The people that Ence refers to as “haters” can help the business improve and innovate through criticism. In fact, some of the people who were not in his target segment are now working in his team to fully understand what other capabilities they still have to explore.
As part of the export strategy, the brand image of a company may undergo minor changes depending on the target country. For example, working with distributors in Asia is very different from working with partners in the U.S., but with the help of a strong brand image and organizational culture, MILZU! company has overcome many obstacles.
Finally, the evolution of the environment has affected the company. In order to survive in a competitive international market, workers have studied the food industry and learned new trends such as healthy eating. This led to developing their new organic and vegetarian cereals, targeted at mothers concerned with their children’s nutrition.
“Always treat your company as if it were your kid.” This is Enno Ence’s message at the end of the lecture. When making a business decision, always remember what is best for the company, and keep in mind that not making a decision is worse than making a mistake. This also applies when releasing new products, expanding into new countries, or building a brand image.