Names: Ashley Colpaart - CEO/co-Founder, Dan Moore - CTO/co-Founder, Ben Nelson - CFO/co-Founder and Rachael Miller - Content & Communications
Business: The Food Corridor, LLC
Location: Virtual team in Fort Collins, Colorado
What’s your specialty: Creating relationships! The Food Corridor connects shared-use kitchens with food businesses. Our platform includes tools like scheduling/booking, invoicing and billing, compliance management and resources to support the ongoing relationship.
The problem your business solves: Food businesses that produce consumable products for sale are required to prepare their food in a licensed kitchen space. In many communities, these licensed spaces already exist, however, they are sorely underutilized. We also know that shared-use kitchens can spend as much as a half a person's salary per year doing things like tracking paper invoices, hunting down food businesses licenses, and managing bookings.
We offer a digital platform that helps the growing incubator kitchen sector manage their bookings, invoicing and client tracking -- all in a fully integrated platform.
What makes your business unique: We are the first fully integrated software built by shared use kitchens, for shared use kitchens. We offer very hands-on client support and are passionate about nurturing and growing the community of incubator and commissary kitchens.
How you got your start: Our founder, Ashley, saw a need for connecting commercial kitchens and food businesses while doing research for her doctorate at Colorado State University. In discovering what the "foodpreneur" community needs were, she saw a clear opportunity to connect pieces of the puzzle. That was about a year and a half ago. We launched in June 2016 and have seen a steady climb since.
One piece of advice you have for other food entrepreneurs: Research, research, research! One of the largest problems for small food businesses is that they don't know where to go for resources and often don't have a sounding board to discuss things like realistic budgets, timelines and client/customer recruitment. Food entrepreneurs are a niche community with some very unique considerations. It is also a very expensive industry in which to launch -- getting that budget right the first time can mean the difference between a kitchen's success or bankruptcy. Our strategy is to partner with the best and elevate the community at the national level.
One thing you wish you knew before you started your food business: There is a big difference between "playing startup" and "building a startup." There is a temptation to attend networking events, conferences, panels and pitch competitions, but all of those things take time away from growing an actual business. To test the real viability of a startup requires time with your customers. We know when we are close to our clients and addressing their needs, we are making progress.
Your greatest challenge in your business and how you are overcoming it: Many of our kitchen clients took a chance on our pilot and became clients after the pilot closed. That's an incredible leap of faith and we want to ensure they are loving the platform and reaching their goals. Trying to scale this intimacy and connectivity is going to be a challenge, so we are focused on our core values to ensure we bring on team members that understand our mission and our clients.
What you're most proud of about your business: How quickly we grew an idea to launch. Two years ago, TFC was a few thoughts and a couple of conversations. Today, we have a product, a team, a growing client base and have real metrics to demonstrate how far we've come. It's taken a community of hardworking people, advisors, clients, and supporters who care about building a more resilient food system, and we're having a blast along the way.
What’s yummy about being a food entrepreneur: The people! Our team communicates really well to keep the company thriving, our clients provide valuable feedback while helping us to iterate our product, and our partners provide necessary infrastructure so that food businesses can launch and grow. Food connects people, communities, and cultures. We will never stop needing it.
Interested in being featured? Contact Us.