Solved by verified expert:Week 1 – Discussion 1Quality [WLOs: 1, 2, 3] [CLO: 1]Prior to beginning work on this discussion, read Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 from the textbook, the lecture for Week 1, the Spoon University company background information packet, and watch the Spoon University company background video.Discuss how ideas from the different gurus covered in the reading can apply to Spoon University. How can the editorial team keep pace with their current production volume, and how can quality be improved by applying quality ideas from these experts?Week 1 – Discussion 2Customers [WLOs: 1, 2, 3] [CLO: 2]Prior to beginning work on this discussion, review Deming’s14 points for Management (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., and review Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 from the textbook, the lecture for Week 1, the Spoon University company background video, and the Spoon University company background information packet.Think about the “supply chain” for Spoon University. Describe the different types of customers involved in the process. Distinguish among consumers, external customers, and internal customers.


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Week 1 – Discussion 1
Quality [WLOs: 1, 2, 3] [CLO: 1]
Prior to beginning work on this discussion, read Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 from
the textbook, the lecture for Week 1, the Spoon University company background
information packet
, and watch the Spoon University company background video.
Discuss how ideas from the different gurus covered in the reading can apply to Spoon
University. How can the editorial team keep pace with their current production volume, and
how can quality be improved by applying quality ideas from these experts?
Week 1 – Discussion 2
Customers [WLOs: 1, 2, 3] [CLO: 2]
Prior to beginning work on this discussion, review Deming’s14 points for
Management (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., and review Chapter 1,
Chapter 2, and Chapter 3 from the textbook, the lecture for Week 1, the Spoon University
company background video, and the Spoon University company background information
Think about the “supply chain” for Spoon University. Describe the different types of
customers involved in the process. Distinguish among consumers, external customers, and
internal customers.
Company Background Packet
COMPANY PROFILE ……………………………………………………… 3
Leadership Team …………………………………………………………………..3
About Spoon University…………………………………………………………..4
History and Development ………………………………………………………..4
The Chapter Community …………………………………………………………6
Monetization and Momentum …………………………………………………..8
THE FOOD MEDIA INDUSTRY ……………………………………… 10
Trends ………………………………………………………………………………..10
The Competitive Landscape ………………………………………………….11
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Company Profile
Company Name:
Spoon University
New York, NY
Holding Type:
Company Size:
New Media
Leadership Team
Mackenzie Barth
Sarah Adler
CEO, Cofounder
CTO, Cofounder
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About Spoon University
Spoon University manages a foodie digital media blog network made for millennials, by
millennials. Co-founded at Northwestern by two women as a student club producing a local
foodie magazine, it has exploded into chapters at 150+ college campuses, all led by students.
The students contribute articles with support and training from Spoon University headquarters,
which has grown to a staff of around two dozen including editors, video production specialists,
community managers, and tech developers.
The blog-style website surfaces the best and most relevant of the 75 articles published daily
from contributors globally depending on the mood of the reader. Spoon University also relies
heavily on social media to get articles shared virally and grow readership. Spoon has
developed an editorial leadership training program called “Secret Sauce,” amongst other
organizational processes, to manage their 5,000+ contributors and optimize the content
Spoon’s mission to simplify food for young adults has resulted in a cult-like fan following, which
has transcended the digital experience with events and dining/cooking activities on campus.
With a highly-engaged, loyal, large and growing readership base, the company has strong
potential for monetization through sponsored content to promote food brands to millennials.
History and Development
Spoon University cofounders Mackenzie Barth (not a foodie) and Sarah Adler (total foodie)
started the company as undergraduates at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in
2012. After moving to an off-campus apartment, Barth and Adler faced providing their own
food, day in and day out, for the first time. While there were already many food media outlets,
none targeted college students, who are uniquely lacking in time, experience, and resources,
especially when it comes to cooking and dining.
“Spoon University…is the everyday food resource for our generation, on a mission to make
food make sense. On our site, you can find the simplest recipes, the most obvious hack
you can’t believe you didn’t know, and the best restaurants around campus that you
haven’t found yet.” Sarah Adler, CTO & Cofounder, Spoon University
Knowing that they couldn’t be the only students struggling with this issue, Barth and Adler
started a campus-wide publication that gave their peers a place to come together to explore
food as a community and learn from each other. In the fall of 2012, they recruited a team of
about one-hundred fellow students who took on roles as writers, photographers,
videographers, editors, and marketing specialists to produce and promote the magazine
around Northwestern. Soon, Barth and Adler were receiving requests from students at other
colleges to help them establish a Spoon chapter at their school. By their senior spring in 2013,
Spoon University had successfully launched at three other universities in the US.
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Exhibit 1: American University’s Chapter Website
The Spoon University cofounders spent the summer
after graduating college testing their business model,
building an online platform, and garnering interest at
other schools. By that fall, Spoon University had
established headquarters in New York City, officially
launched their site, and continued establishing chapters
As Spoon University wrapped up their first year, the
community had grown to thirty chapters around the
globe. In January 2015, they announced their
acceptance into Tech Stars New York, one of the top
accelerator programs for startups in the country. By the
end of the four-month long program, Spoon University
had developed a network of mentors, validated the
company’s concept and begun their seed funding,
which would amount to nearly $3 million by the end of
the round.
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The NYC Team
Co-founders Barth and Adler have assumed leadership roles of CEO and CTO, respectively.
Total staffing of approximately 20 is divided predominantly between the community
engagement / growth and the contributor development side with technical, engineering and
video production slots.
The Chapter Community
Now established in 150+ college campuses and
expanding around the globe, Spoon University has
demonstrated that millennials love their online
community of crowd-sourced food tips, blog
posts, healthy recipes, local menus, and howto’s. At first glance, Spoon University’s usergenerated content model resembles that of
many other sites popular among millennials
today. While Spoon is “on a mission to make
food make sense” for its readers, the
company isn’t curating blog posts and articles
solely for the sake of creating content. Unlike
any other user-generated site, Spoon University
is fundamentally an educational platform for
students to develop their skills in preparation for
the job market.
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Early on, Barth and Adler recognized that the entrepreneurial and professional development
aspects of establishing a Spoon chapter drew students just as much, if not more, than the
opportunity to develop content about food. While a passion for food may have brought
students to their site, the chance to refine their skills, network, and gain exposure as writers,
editors, photographers, videographers, and marketers is what encouraged them to work as
productive contributors. Spoon contributors tend to be extremely loyal and engaged in the
hobby of foodie-blogging; many are interested in staying active post-graduation.
Consequently, Spoon University’s NYC staff has kept the mission at the company’s core.
Every Spoon University contributor goes through an on-boarding process and receives training
on how to write headlines, use Facebook to promote their content, and manage analytics tools
to see how well their contributions are performing. Chapter leadership organizes its
contributors like a club to plan activities and meet up, collaborate and share best practices for
blogging almost like writers or editors of a magazine. The chapter interfaces with Spoon
Headquarters for guidance, direction, resources (such as “Secret Sauce1” editorial training
Chapter Organization and Content Creation
Each of Spoon’s college chapters is a unique organization that caters to their specific campus,
but all of them work closely with the New York City headquarters to ensure that the
organization is getting the support they need to run the organization efficiently and produce
high-quality content. Although the sizes of the college chapters vary depending on campus
population size and the amount of interest from contributor volunteers, each chapter is headed
by two or three student managers. These volunteer chapter executives generally take on the
roles of Editorial Director, Community Manager, and Social Media Manager, mirroring the
makeup of Spoon’s HQ organization. Several Spoon chapters also have a videographer that
produces original video content. This program, however, is still in a developmental phase and
has yet to become widespread across the Spoon University network.
In addition to providing training and strategic support to the college chapters, Spoon’s New
York team also contributes specific content to their writers. Several times a week, Spoon’s HQ
editorial team starts their morning with a content brainstorming session. Food media is innately
a high-turnover industry which can make producing a consistent stream of high-quality, trendy,
and engaging content difficult. The New York HQ team in New York assists chapter
contributors by providing leadership guidance, organizational structure and change
management, training, as well as ideation for new articles and editorial review before
publishing. The HQ editorial managers oversee the chapter contributors’ content creation
process through several stages of editorial review and feedback before ultimately publishing.
The Spoon HQ organization needs to be designed for a high volume, high quality, rapid
turnaround process to publish 75+ articles per day across all chapters. Spoon University has
developed a core competency in distributed media content management and production.
1 Andrea Pyenson. Spoon University, a food site by and for students. November 25, 2014.
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Spoon University Business Model
Monetization and Momentum
Spoon University is leveraging their unique
connection with and knowledge of millennials to
turn traditional, online monetization models
upside down. Although millennials have
surpassed the Baby Boomer generation in
numbers and have a projected buying power of
$200 billion annually, advertisers, for the most
part, have struggled to understand and connect
with the generation in an effective way. As the
eldest millennials are still in their peak earning
years and likely to remain a lucrative
demographic for decades to come, the
disconnect with these consumers remains a
significant pain point for many brands.
Spoon University’s intimate relationship with
millennials gives brands a unique opportunity to
reach, engage with and learn about the
generation in a powerful way. Spoon leverages
this relationship with millennials not only to
charge advertisers for access to their millennial
readership but also to demand a more authentic
connection between brands and consumers.
Exhibit 2: Millennials
Rather than using traditional banner ads, which
Spoon believes are ineffective, the food media
company focuses on more innovative and dynamic monetization methods for brands to
connect with students. Spoon pairs paying advertisers with member contributors who create
sponsored content that brings the brand to life and speaks to millennials in a genuine, relatable
voice. Through this mutually-beneficial process, brands and millennial consumers learn about
and engage with one another in a meaningful way.
Spoon recently developed a full-time time sales team that is responsible for finding and
connecting with brands who are interested in sponsoring content on the site. With Spoon’s
most popular content reaching nearly 70 million views and 400,000 likes on Facebook alone,
advertisers have a lot to gain from tapping into Spoon’s audience. The company has already
developed partnerships with big names in the food industry, including Whole Foods Market. 2
2 Andrea Pyenson. Spoon University, a food site by and for students. November 25, 2014.
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The Year Ahead
In the upcoming year, Spoon University’s Mackenzie Barth and Sarah Adler plan to keep
business development at the top of their priority list.
Spoon City
Spoon University was created to help inform college students on how to navigate their tiny
kitchens, find the best local eats, and discover how to cook for themselves despite limited time
and resources, but Spoon realized that these problems don’t end in college. Spoon City is a
new way to navigate these issues out together and have fun doing it. Spoon is creating a
community of food lovers in cities across the globe to come together to eat, cook, photograph,
Instagram, vent, explore and figure out what this post-college world is all about. It’s for the
wannabe food bloggers, the bored-at-work twenty-somethings, the friends who book
everyone’s restaurant reservations, the ones that ventured to a new city after graduation and
everyone in between.
While developing Spoon City is a natural expansion for the company to stay engaged with their
college followers after graduation, this blossoming community also speaks to the loyalty and
high-level engagement of Spoon’s University’s contributors and readership. Even after
graduating and settling into a full-time job, Spoon’s college chapter alumni want to continue
sharing their passion for food and engaging with others with the same interest.
As of August 2016, Spoon is still developing and testing the new venture across the United
Video Program
While building the Spoon University globally by growing their college chapter network will
always be a key part of Spoon’s business development, they are also looking for new ways to
progress the chapter program in general. Currently, Spoon is testing theories to see which
opportunities will be the most feasible. One of which is an educational video program that
would give students the tools to develop their videography skills.
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The Food Media Industry
Since the opening of Whole Foods a generation ago, which took organic, fair trade and
sustainable produce mainstream, a growing awareness and appreciation of food has
revolutionized the industry. Increasingly food is not just seen as a source of nutrition, but also
as a way to improve health and impact the world. Fresh, locally-grown food is now a
multibillion-dollar industry, with spin-offs including popular food tours, food-oriented travel,
food-oriented publications, The Food Network and cable programs. Combined with the desire
of Generation X’ers and Boomers to maintain an active lifestyle, healthy eating habits fostered
by Spoon University complement the growing desire of college students to live off-campus,
away from costly dining halls with limited offerings. Thus, timely blogs on the site include tips
for eating well while away from campus, for example. They also allow college foodies to share
tips and recipes with other like-minded students.
Three other trends support the marketing model of Spoon University.
• The first is the increasing sophistication of Americans’ taste for international
and ethnic foods, with complementary spices and sauces; the greater availability of
fresh herbs, produce and farm-raised local meat and the growing affordability of these
food items;

The second is the trend toward food as a social activity apart from cooking and dining.
Illustrated by the emergence of pop-up produce stands and fresh juice bars and yearround farmers’ markets in urban areas, this trend showcases the function of venues
other than restaurants as primarily social, rather than commercial, in nature. Farmers’
market suppliers, for example, note the decline in sales despite increased crowds at
weekly markets. “People are socializing and sampling, rather than buying,” they note.

The final and third trend is a move away from cooking, toward foods that are easy and
quick to prepare. Supporting college students’ fast-paced life style requires easy, stir-fry
ingredients and in-skillet assembly that does not require lengthy heating or multiple
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The Competitive Landscape
In the modern era of media, not only do pundits herald that “Print is dead,” but the entire media
industry is undergoing a struggle to adapt to the digital landscape. Part of the challenge is that
the media is inherently an industry of intensive competitive rivalry, but particularly Facebook as
a social utility has fundamentally changed the distribution of content. Industry experts (notably,
Ben Thompson’s formulation of Aggregation Theory and the Internet enabled disruption of
everything, beginning with the disruption of media by Google and then Facebook)34 have
raised concern that publishers are being commoditized by Facebook’s algorithmic display of
content to users from any publisher; this has changed the game from a dynamic where users
sought out particular publications with loyalty. Publishers find themselves forced to play by
Facebook’s rules, and initially it may offer improved financial results from enhanced
distribution, but in the long term it seems the risk is a value migration from publishers to the
aggregators of the world such as Facebook.5
The Internet has dramatically impacted the journalism industry by increasing publishers’
competition for both readership and advertisers. For example, the print-centric cost structure of
many newspapers is apparently obsolete, as new online-only publications built for internet
economics are capitalizing on these asymmetries, Spoon being a great example.678
When analyzing the new media industry, it is important to consider the nature of the
relationships Spoon has with suppliers and customers. Customers could either be defined as
the readership audience which consumes free content, or as the brands paying advertising
fees for sponsored content. Suppliers could be defined to include chapter contributors creating
content, and/or the social network platforms used to distribute Spoon’s content and enable it to
go viral.
For Spoon, social media platforms are important resources for pushing their content out to
their audience. In addition to publishing content on Spoon’s National and/or Chapter websites,
the company uses Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube to share
articles, videos, photos, recipes, and other media. Spoon also enters syndication partnerships
with larger digital media platforms such as The Huffington Post to further distribute content.
These syndication partners could be interpreted as customers or suppliers depending on the
nuances of the relationship.
3 Anazodo, Tikue. How ‘Aggregation Theory’ is Fueling a Multi-Trillion Dollar Technology Revolution:
The Great Commoditization of Distribution. February 1, 2016.
4 Thompson, Ben. Aggregation Theory. July 21, 2015.
5 Thompson, Ben. The Facebook Reckoning. March 25, 2015. https://stratecher …
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