Few people understand the convergence of entrepreneurship and franchising quite like Somia Farid Silber ’15.
She arrived at Babson College a decade ago to hone her entrepreneurial skills and eventually return to her family’s franchising business, Edible Arrangements, which her father, Tariq Farid P’15, founded in 1999.
Her Babson experience helped propel Farid Silber, who now serves as the vice president of e-commerce at Edible Brands, one of the world’s most successful franchises with more than 1,000 locations around the world. Last year, Farid Silber was named to the 100 Influential Women in Franchising list by BusinessWoman magazine.
Now, Farid Silber and her family are giving back with the announcement today of the new Tariq Farid Franchise Institute at Babson College. The institute, which will reside in The Arthur M. Blank School for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College, will fill a growing need for franchising education, providing transdisciplinary undergraduate, graduate, and certification-level courses; a world-class advisory council; and a multidisciplinary faculty research program.
Few other institutions offer such programming, even though franchising accounts for more than $674 billion of business conducted annually in the United States. The creation of a new franchising institute—introduced by Babson President Stephen Spinelli Jr. MBA’92, PhD, a franchising expert himself as the co-founder of Jiffy Lube and chair of the board of Planet Fitness; and Donna Levin, CEO of The Blank School—is a major step forward for the future of franchising and for Babson as it continues to expand its leadership of entrepreneurship education.
Farid Silber recently sat down to discuss the new Tariq Farid Franchise Institute at Babson College:
What does it mean to you personally to help launch the Tariq Farid Franchise Institute at your alma mater?
“It’s really wonderful to see it happen. My time at Babson had a very positive impact not only on me but also on my family. There’s always an opportunity to pay it forward and to continue to have that legacy and to continue to build. For us, it’s really nice to be able to do that with Babson, considering how amazing my experience was there. There’s just a lot of opportunity when it comes to the intersection between franchising and entrepreneurship.”
How important is entrepreneurship in creating and running a successful franchise?
“I think franchising and entrepreneurship are very similar. You have to have an entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial spirit to be successful in franchising, because the risk factor is high, and you have to be able to run a business, everything from local marketing at the grassroots level, all the way to operational excellence and customer service. It’s really all-encompassing, and there’s a lot to learn. So, that’s really where the idea came from. There’s a gap here today, and there’s really an opportunity not just for Babson and Babson students but also for others who are interested to learn more about the business model. There’s opportunity for us to do research about franchising and where it’s headed, and Babson is a really good fit to help with this, considering how entrepreneurial the school is and how it is a thought leader and an institution that’s really ahead of the curve when it comes to teaching entrepreneurship.”
“There’s a really big opportunity for Babson to help educate people and provide those resources around franchising and entrepreneurship.”
Somia Farid Silber ’15, vice president of e-commerce, Edible Brands
Why is franchising education important?
“Franchising is such an amazing business model, because it’s a great way to have a national brand that’s also local and community-oriented and community-driven. So much of franchising is about understanding your neighborhood and understanding who your customers are. So, something that was really important to us at Edible—and especially with President Spinelli coming on board and his experience with franchising—was starting to teach Babson students and creating opportunities for others who are interested in franchising to learn more about the model, either as a franchisor or a franchisee. There’s a really big opportunity for Babson to help educate people and provide those resources around franchising and entrepreneurship.”
What components of the new institute are you most excited about?
“There are so many benefits of the institute, including the courses that will be offered for undergraduate and graduate students to certifications available to non-Babson students, whether it’s in person or online. I’m really excited about the advisory council. I think it’ll be really great to get a group of not only alumni but also industry experts together to talk about franchising and to make an impact here. The other thing that’s really exciting to me is the opportunity for case studies and research. One thing that I really loved about my time at Babson was how much we learned about other brands from case studies, and I look forward to being able to have franchise companies—either the franchisor side or the franchisee side—be a part of some of those case studies and to provide those to students to learn more about the model.”
How involved do you expect to be with the new institute?
“Considering my connection to Babson and how personal it is, I expect to be super involved and very active with all things with the Tariq Farid Franchise Institute.”
What does it mean to your father to have his name on a franchise institute at an institution that has been so important in your own development?
“He came to the U.S. when he was 11 years old with really nothing, and he truly fulfilled the American dream. So, it’s really important for him to be able to leave a legacy, and to be able to do it within Babson is amazing because of how influential Babson has been on my career and the business.”