Cottage food start-up sales, aided by food incubators, have soared from $5 billion annually in 2008 to over $20 billion annually in recent years. Chances are if you can make it, there is a market that will buy it – provided you are prepared to do more than just deliver the goods.
The benefits of bootstrapping a food start-up come from being able to dive right in without significant upfront costs, while the downside is a lack of resources that will allow you to grow consistently. However, food incubators offer a solution to a lack of resources so that you can have your cake and eat it too.
If you are known as the local chili specialist or have the chocolate lava cake recipe everyone is always asking for, then a specialty food business might be ripe for future success. While some homegrown food start-ups will grow to regional distribution in under a year, others will struggle to get out of the local farmer’s market.
What they have in common is that all food startups are started by real people with a concept they believe in. The difference between the two is strategic resources.
Photo Credit: Peerspace, Bite Unite Commercial Shared Kitchen
What Is A Food Incubator
To begin with, most cottage food businesses will be making high-value goods in low quantities, a sure recipe for quality but one lacking in a plan for scale and growth. No matter how good the idea is, you’ll need to front the investment for commercial space or a licensed home kitchen (depending on state law), equipment, and possibly most time-consuming, find your way through laws, licensing, and insurance.
The average start-up cost for a food business can easily be in the neighborhood of $100,000 before you’ve even labeled your first hot sauce.
The solution? Enter the food incubator model of the 1980s; a communally licensed and shared kitchen space. To “incubate” a business idea is to give resources to a fledgling idea before it leaves the nest.
Food incubator, shared kitchen, cloud kitchen, and ghost kitchen all refer to a magical place to start your food concept without the need for a big investment. These licensed commercial kitchens have been a place where small food business renters have the umbrella of shared preparation space, storage, and commercial equipment while sharing the costs with other creators. Kitchen incubators have allowed tens of thousands of “foodpreneurs” to start with minimal resources. These spaces can be rented hourly or monthly with limited contracts, allowing foodpreneurs who outgrow the space to move on and scale up without the liability of a long-term lease.
SAPi APP is an example of how a platform can make a great food incubator for a new business.
Kitchens aren’t the only business incubators available to hustling food entrepreneurs. A food APP platform, like Save A Plate (SAPi) , can also can address meaningful resource gaps as you grow. Food start-ups are more than the product. You can have the hottest biscuit in town, but without the ability to market, show proof of concept, and connect with your community, your biscuit will get cold.
This is where a digital platform, like a food APP, can help you fly. A crucial part of any operating budget is in marketing and sales. SAPi is a food incubator in the sense that it provides a shared platform of resources to reach a broader customer base. It also advertises for you, connecting your food concept to a local community looking for unique, fresh plates and products.
A food APP gives you the exposure you need without the legwork that usually follows. An APP also provides an organic marketing opportunity where the product pitch is coming from an established platform instead from just the creator. It also gives you a level of professionalism that is naturally associated with aligning yourself with a well-respected platform.
Utilizing a food incubator APP like SAPi will help you:
Reach new audiences.
Give you a place to trial concepts.
Save money on marketing costs.
Save valuable time.
Allow you to focus on the details of your product instead of sales.
Join the SAPi APP as a vendor, or find your local plate here.
Grow Your Kitchen Series: Jumpstart Your Food Business
During this series on Save A Plate Inc, we will look inside the JumpStart Your Food Business course, which is a comprehensive approach to start, grow, and scale your food business.
The JumpStart Your Food Business course provides a curriculum you can tackle at home on your own timeline, which will demystify the process to launch your journey as a food entrepreneur.
Why Build Your Dream With JumpStart Your Food Business
SAPi believes that every food entrepreneur deserves a seat at the table, and a lack of resources or time should not stop a dream from becoming a reality.
The food and beverage business can feel financially intimidating, and resources to develop a sound business model can be costly. In addition, lack of resources and confidence to take the leap can exclude some of our most valuable contributors to the food ecosystem. Now first time business owners, young entrepreneurs, and those switching professions will all have a seat at the table.
This course is written by SAPi’s founder and food visionary, Dr. Brandon Gantt. It provides all the pieces you need to create a food business plan coupled with your unique vision and value proposition with a sound strategy to make it a sustainable reality.
Likewise, his experience with previous endeavors that required copious amounts of research and bootstrapping business plans together, Gantt decided that the way to grow our food community was to make resources to start your own food business accessible to everybody. This course to grow your kitchen is for the people that know a food hustle is often grown late at night while working multiple jobs to make a real dream happen.
How Does It Work
The JumpStart Your Food Business curriculum is built for people who:
Want to find all the guidance in one place.
Need a flexible learning plan.
Want real-world examples of concept success.
Are ready to make their food hustle into a thriving business model.
The curriculum is broken into 20 self-guided units that can be done at your own pace. The JumpStart Your Food Business course will take you from idea to opening day without leaving any stone unturned. In doing so, you’ll go into your new endeavor confident that your business has a solid foundation. In addition, your brand will have a solid identity and voice.
The JumpStart Your Food Business course includes modules to:
Take your idea into action.
Learn strategies for market research from consumer to competitor.
Develop your unique selling proposition.
Develop your product.
Create a legal framework and financial foundation.
Build your brand.
Create a marketing strategy.
SAPi connects people in a diverse locally minded ecosystem that encourages and supports food providers in building and growing their visions. Your success is our success. So let’s meet at the table and make your food business dreams into reality.
Finding Your Why Is One Of The Most Important Steps Of Your Food Business Journey
In this installment of SAPi’s Grow Your Kitchen Series, we’ll be digging deep to answer one of the most critical questions a new food entrepreneur should ask themselves: why? Why do you wake up every day to hustle for your dream? Why should you keep going? Why should your customers invest in your brand?
Renown author and speaker Simon Sinek, renowned author and public speaker said:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do.”
There is a place where your “why” and consumer demand will cross over, and this is the sweet spot to success.
Finding Your Why Is The First Step To Creating Your Dream
A “why statement” is your purpose, who you are, what your stand for, and how you want to contribute to the better good. If your “why statement” is powerful enough, it will inspire and move people to share your message.
Finding Your Why To Communicate To Consumers
You may not realize it, but as consumers, we are buying someone else’s “why” every day. Does their “why” align with our values, hopes, and goals? Your why should translate to your product, mission, and vision. An authentic “why” will resonate with your customer base and create loyal customers who trust in your brand.
Finding Your Why To Keep Growing Your Kitchen
Before you even consider your future customer, you need to answer the “why” for yourself. At the end of the longest days, when you feel like giving up, you’ll need this anchor statement to remind you who you are and where you are going. A strong why statement is imperative to your personal and business success and longevity.
Here are five solid reasons you should invest time and thought into crafting a strong “why statement”.
1. It will define your purpose.
Understanding your own true purpose in life should be a priority whether it is part of a business dream or otherwise. Humans fundamentally do better with a personal sense of purpose, a true north that will always be there to guide them. Purpose offers stability and direction.
2. A “why statement” will help you to maintain focus.
When you define your “why” with good clarity, this becomes a place to go back to when chaos sets in. Your “why” will remind you of your bigger goals when small setbacks happen.
3. It will help guide you in making hard decisions.
A well-crafted “why statement” will help you from making rash decisions or “quick fixes” in the heat of the moment. It is also a place to revisit when you feel yourself compromising your core values.
4. It will act as an accountability partner.
To grow your kitchen, you’ll need a strategic timeline to consult when you find yourself off track. When you find yourself drifting off course, your “why statement” will remind you that you have work to do and goals to meet.
5. It will keep you resilient.
Perhaps most importantly, a business owner must possess otherworldly resilience. Thomas Edison once said:
“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”
So much of succeeding is failing first. A “why statement” will remind you of your original mission and the big dreams that require determination and resilience to keep moving.