Rioko Enomoto had a really cool idea while attending the Berkeley Haas Global Access Program (BHGAP).
While chatting with her new Berkeley friends, the topic of food always came up. It’s too costly to continuously eat out at restaurants. And between classes, homework and sightseeing, who has the time to make food at home? But for those food-minded friends, they wanted to share their home country’s cuisines with their fellow BHGAPers.
And that’s when Rioko had her entrepreneurship “lightbulb” moment.
“I thought, ‘We can connect those people who need affordable, delicious meals and those who can provide them.’ We created this idea so that more students would enjoy their daily meals through our platform.”
The idea came from lessons she was learning in Introduction to Entrepreneurship.
“The professor guided us to form innovative ideas that tackle problems we’d observed through daily life,” Rioko tells the Berkeley Haas team. “We came up with MealShare, a food-delivery service where the food is not from restaurants but from home kitchens. The revenue model is by connecting the student chefs and buyers through our platform. Here, chefs sell meals to the buyers, and we get a 15-percent commission rate from the sales.
“Our vision is to reduce food waste and end hunger by bridging the mismatched supply and demand curve of economical homemade meals, ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. Furthermore, optimize good health and well-being of students by diversifying the menu. There are many international students in Berkeley who aren’t used to or satisfied with local food. Thus, we reach out to international student chefs to provide a variety of healthy and authentic foreign cuisines, hoping to improve nutrition and satisfaction of food in Berkeley.”
This is just one of the many impactful, entrepreneurial ideas that stem from a BHGAP course.
Now back at her home university, Waseda University (Tokyo), after completing a full academic year in Berkeley, Rioko is more than enthused to talk about her experience during this life-changing program. This economics major is surely on her way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
What brought you to BHGAP?
I wanted to learn business, especially entrepreneurship. My dream is to manage my own business in the future, but there are fewer opportunities for learning venture business in Japan. Thus, I wanted to learn from the world’s top M.B.A. professors and the startup culture of the Bay Area.
You took quite a few courses, including International Marketing, Pricing, Opportunity Recognition, Blockchain and Financial Information Analysis, among many others. How do they fit in with your major?
My academic objective is to study companies’ decision makings. I always think about how I should lead a company, and which option I should choose if I were the CEO. To get the right answer, I need both business and economics perspectives.
In my economics major, I apply theories to the actual behaviors of enterprises. In courses at Haas, I covered many business cases and learned from the past successful and wrong choices by companies. I think both the theoretical, wide economics view and the practical, strategic view are important to make good decisions in business.
How are your Berkeley classes different from or similar to your home institution?
I was first surprised that students even asked questions when professors were explaining. The students cannot stop questioning and expressing their opinions. I liked the interactive small classes at Berkeley Haas. In contrast, in my home university in Japan, most classes are so large—sometimes more than 100 students—so I could only ask questions after the classes ended and the professors were leaving the classrooms.
What experiences did you have outside of the classroom? Any favorite spots to explore?
I loved the diverse, cultural experiences with my BHGAP friends. We held a Japanese food event at our dorm and invited foreign friends. One day, my French friends invited me to their home party where I learned the taste of wine and raw ham, and how to French dance.
What are your top 5 things to do in Berkeley and San Francisco?
What’s next for you?
I desire to come back to Berkeley Haas for the M.B.A. program within five years. After learning from Berkeley professors for one year, I still want to learn more from them, especially about entrepreneurship and corporate management.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting their Berkeley Global program in the fall?
This year in BHGAP was the best in my life. You should be excited to see ambitious, unique international fellows and amazing professors who will give you another way of seeing the world.