Elena Colombo, Global MBA Food and Wine: “This was our meeting with Steve Raye.”

29 November 2018

My name is Elena Maria Colombo, I am from Italy, and I am a full-time student of the Global MBA Food and Wine at Bologna Business School.

In the past years, I have gained corporate experience in fashion industry, making my way from being a Sales Associate to becoming Area Manager for multinational luxury companies. My academic background was in Humanities: I obtained a BA degree at Ca’ Foscari University in Chinese Language and Society in 2011, after which I moved to The Netherlands to complete my master’s degree in Asian Studies.

I have always thought about taking an MBA as a “once in a lifetime” experience that will forge one’s destiny and take the career to the next level, but I was afraid to leave my comfort zone and quit the safe job I had. When I got to know that Bologna Business School was offering an MBA that combines both managerial and business classes with insights from Food and Wine industry, I didn’t think twice, and I took up the challenge.

Why Food and Wine? As food and wine constitute one of the pillars in the current Italian export scenario, I want to combine my previous academic background and expertise focused on Chinese language and market with a strong knowledge of the mechanisms that regulate food and wine industry. Within the program, our class has the opportunity to visit major Food and Beverage companies in Italy and to take part to conferences, fairs and seminars centered on this topic throughout the year.

Last Friday, I had the chance to sit at the exclusive lecture that Steve Raye prepared for the Global MBA Food and Wine students. Steve Raye is the Founder and President of Bevology Inc., one of the most important U.S. wine and spirit marketing companies, specialized in helping wine export brands penetrate the U.S. market.

Steve Raye has gained extensive experience in wine and spirit industry in U.S., working first for Diageo (global leader in alcoholics) and then founding his own company. In occasion of the presentation of his book ‘Get U.S. Market Ready‘ during the Wine2Wine 2018 fair in Verona, Raye gave us a lecture about how to enter the big market of wine and spirits in the United States and discussed about the impact that Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods will have on U.S. retail.

To be a successful international wine or spirits brand these days, you have to manage the right knowhow to do business in different markets around the world. If the average winery or spirits brand finds the internationalization process complicated due to the different channels that can be found in a foreign country, on and off-trades, wine shops that also act as wholesalers, restaurants that run their own e-commerce sites, then entering the United States market can be an even greater challenge. Particularly when you consider its drinks distribution network, known as the three-tier system, which effectively means that the U.S. operates 50 different markets for every state in the country.

During his talk, Steve Raye introduced to us the main features of this multicolored and segmented market, distinguishing between each state’s regulations and habits. He also tackled several common mistakes that companies make when approaching such market and how to avoid them. Raye has also answered our questions with professional humor, guiding us in discovering this new and complex market.

This lecture has been inspiring and motivating and it has been a great opportunity to kick off this year’s Food and Wine track by listening to Steve talking about his personal and professional experience in wine and spirit industry.


Elena Maria Colombo – Italy

Global MBA Food and Wine – Class of 2018/2019


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