Grow Your Food Business: What Is A Food Incubator?
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.
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.
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.