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Podcasts

How Seal The Seasons Matches Mission With Scale

How Seal The Seasons Matches Mission With Scale

Patrick Mateer is the Founder and CEO of Seal The Seasons, a brand of produce frozen on a state-by-state or region-by-region basis that is then distributed to those same communities’ grocery stores. They began production in one of the partitions of a shared-use commissary kitchen facility where they installed an Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) production freezer. They began partnering with a co-packer in 2017 and almost doubled their gross margin contributions as a result, passing more money to their farmer suppliers. Patrick has seen customers respond to Seal The Seasons’ vibrant packaging and messaging in addition to price promotions, in-store features/displays, store circular placement, newspapers/traditional media and connecting via online media to the grocery’s eCommerce site. Though they thought they would need to raise $1 million to $2 million to finance their operation, now they estimate that they will need two or three times that amount due to increased consumer demand for their products and supporting their sales growth in turn. Pitching each investor based on their unique preferences and needs has been one of the most difficult things Patrick has had to learn as an entrepreneur.

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How Top Note Tonics Pivoted Beverage Categories and Understood Their Market

How Top Note Tonics Pivoted Beverage Categories and Understood Their Market

Mary Pellettieri is the co-founder of Top Note Tonics, a company that makes complex and layered American craft mixers. Mary’s experience in sales, marketing, distribution and new product development/research and quality assurance, including at Goose Island and Miller/Coors, has allowed her to take calculated risks. Top Note has pivoted away from syrups towards niche ready-to-drink, already mixed sparkling tonics, using their foray into syrups to further understand the mixer category and build their brand. Mary reflected that having a good bank as a partner is important and that learning about money has been the most important and useful thing that she has picked up as an entrepreneur.

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MobCraft Beer’s Creative Sourcing of Recipes and Financing

MobCraft Beer’s Creative Sourcing of Recipes and Financing

MobCraft beer is a brewery and taproom with a unique business model of crowdsourcing ideas for beer recipes from their customers. Their brewery/taproom in Milwaukee cost just over $2 million to build. When MobCraft first started to raise money to finance their facility, they looked for institutional capital at first without much success and then pursued equity crowdfunding. Knowing how much equity they needed vs. debt to finance their facility build out and equipment needs helped them pitch specific asks to both banks and investors. They took advantage of the SBA 7a program to raise the debt they needed, talking to multiple banks before securing bank financing. They also worked with the landlord of their facility to help finance the improvements to the space, which worked as equity when approaching the bank. They then strategically sold their distribution rights to help raise cash.

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Growing Madison Sourdough Intentionally Through Vertical Integration

Growing Madison Sourdough Intentionally Through Vertical Integration

Dave Lohrentz is co-owner of Madison Sourdough, a bakery, café, patisserie and mill in Madison, WI specializing in sourdough breads. They have grown using a vertically integrated business model by adding a restaurant that highlights their baked goods and bakery. They have also added an artisanal grain mill to their production processes, sourcing much of the flour themselves from local producers. Dave has found it is difficult to get the local and unconventional grain supply chain to a robust enough point to have options for multiple actors in the chain. He advocates for entrepreneurs to use the lean startup model of trying things, talking to customers, learning from mistakes and pivoting quickly, rather than writing up elaborate business plans built on assumptions that may not be true and may change over time.

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Jonny Hunter Of Underground Food Collective On Thinking Bigger in the Food System

Jonny Hunter Of Underground Food Collective On Thinking Bigger in the Food System

Jonny Hunter, one of the founders of the Underground Food Collective, talks about the Collective’s growing as a series of horizontally integrated businesses. Their business model works because of infrastructure like a centralized production facility behind them to support their interrelated retail and manufacturing/processing businesses in an efficient manner across multiple product lines (meat, baking, pasta, fermented products) and multiple retail outlets (restaurants, events, butcher shops). He wishes that values around local and sustainable food could be used to create systems that have scalable efficiencies that are affordable to consumers and advocates for working together to build and sustain the infrastructure that would support processing and other means to scale up the local food system.

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A Steady, Slow Growth Path For Quince and Apple’s Niche Domination

A Steady, Slow Growth Path For Quince and Apple’s Niche Domination

Matt and Clare Stoner Fehsenfeld are the married duo behind Quince and Apple, a national brand of small-batch, well-balanced preserves that are often paired with cheese and charcuterie. When they started their business, they realized that because they have a labor-intensive, artisanal product, their best strategy was not to compete on quantity or price. Instead, they chose to compete by dominating an emerging niche (pairing their products with specialty cheeses) while telling the defensibly unique story of their brand’s artisanal processes.

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How Love The Wild Built A National Brand For Frozen Farmed Fish

How Love The Wild Built A National Brand For Frozen Farmed Fish

Love The Wild CEO Jacqueline Claudia managed a fish farm before launching Love the Wild with co-founder Christy Brouker in 2014 to fill the gap in the market for convenient, delicious and environmentally friendly, freshly frozen seafood. The knowledgeable food entrepreneur community in Boulder helped Jacqueline understand the realistic path to building a national food brand, including meeting investor expectations and how much money it would take to grow the company’s top-line sales. Love the Wild is in the current cohort of companies in the Chobani incubator and counts Leonardo DiCaprio as an investor.

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Refining Your Processes and Building Great Financial Packages For Your Food Business

Refining Your Processes and Building Great Financial Packages For Your Food Business

Dan Lemmer of the Wisconsin SBDC’s capital access team talks about how there is value in having a process for financial management and fine-tuning it as you learn more about your business. For example, if you project your needed cash or total sales based on a specific set of assumptions and track it accordingly, you can see how accurate you were and get better at projecting as a result. The more you have the ability to analyze what went right or wrong, the more useful your financial model and plan are to making business decisions. Being able to have both an accurate history and a record of making realistic projections that were met can give entrepreneurs credibility with lenders, investors and the business’ board of directors.

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How Your Food Business Can Build Great Financial Systems

How Your Food Business Can Build Great Financial Systems

Dan Lemmer of the Wisconsin SBDC’s capital access team talks about building great financial systems and realistic projections for food, beverage and value-added agriculture businesses. From the entrepreneur’s perspective, the most important thing when using an accounting package is to ensure accurate setup and data entry so that they are able to produce accurate financial statements. Dan cautions entrepreneurs to only track the information they plan to use. One of the biggest decisions entrepreneurs make in setting up their financial systems is figuring out how much to outsource vs. do in-house. While entrepreneurs need to understand their financial statements and financial drivers, they can often have an outside person come in monthly or quarterly to help take on the more complicated accounting and tax issues, including adjusting journal entries. Then, once the business grows, they can hire someone in-house to help them manage that process as well as help with financial analysis and projection.

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Food Business Brands Evolve With The Consumer

Food Business Brands Evolve With The Consumer

Sara Parthasarathy and Partha Sabniviss, the married couple behind Flavor Temptations, an organic Indian recipe pack brand which includes a traditional Indian recipe with the exact amounts of fresh, organic spices needed to cook the recipe. Originally branded as Ethnic Spicery, they changed their brand name to Flavor Temptations to fully communicate the joyful, family-building experience of making memories through Indian cooking so that their brand resonated more deeply with their target consumer. They also changed their packaging to match their brand promise, better share their values and to stand out on grocery store shelves.

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