Dreaming of Starting Your Own Business?
Interfaith Neighbors’ Biz Dev Center to Mentor Artisanal Food & Beverage Entrepreneurs & Help with Funding
By Michelle Gladden
Whether you want to bottle your own beer, hot sauce or ketchup or share a family recipe for breads, pies, or cookies, Interfaith Neighbors Business Development Center is launching a free program that will help walk budding entrepreneurs through the steps.
Developed in response to a surge of area residents looking to launch their own packaged food or beverage businesses, Interfaith Neighbors’ Business Development Center [BDC] Director Roger Boyce has created the soup to nuts Food Entrepreneur Program.
Since its opening in 2011, the BDC has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs seeking to launch new ventures. Boyce said the micro business ventures should be viewed as an initial part time commitment, capable of supplementing a family or individual’s income.
“The notion I had when I started this is that if you are struggling, an extra $5,000 a year might as well be $1 million,” Boyce said. “It can help you buy a car or help supplement a family’s needs.”
Boyce, who has mentored others in bringing their products to market, has partnered with Rutgers University’s Food Innovation Center [FIC] and Monmouth SCORE, to create a first-of-its-kind program.
“Creating a successful food business is more than just having a good idea or recipe,” Boyce said. “I’m thrilled that we are bringing the considerable resources of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to Asbury Park in order to help food entrepreneurs with this challenge.”
Participants will have an immediate marketplace through an alliance with Dean’s Natural Food Market, Boyce said. Owner Dean Nelson has signed on to offer his 20 years of experience and will offer sales opportunities at his stores in Ocean Township, Shrewsbury, Basking Ridge and Chester.
“As long as they meet Dean’s natural food requirements, they will be guaranteed shelf space,” Boyce said. “We have a lot of talented food entrepreneurs in the area and the artisanal food market is huge.”
The program will launch with a Rutgers University Food Innovation Center’s Food Business Basics Seminar, to be held from noon to 4 p.m. Nov. 16 at the ShowRoom, located on Cookman Avenue.
The seminar includes an overview of the most important aspects of getting a product to market, current consumer trends, food technology, food safety and product commercialization. Applications will be accepted for participation in the free program.
Once vetted, five to six teams of two to three people will begin the free workshops in January, held at the BDC’s Springwood Avenue headquarters.
Monmouth SCORE business experts will provide business skills training while Rutgers University Food Innovation Center’s team will lead participants through the commercial food development and production process.
“We are so pleased to collaborate with Interfaith Neighbors and the Asbury Park and Monmouth County community,” said Lou Cooperhouse, Director of the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center. “FIC’s mission is to support food businesses statewide and this partnership will enable us to reach broader bases of New Jersey residents and businesses.”
Following the estimated six month long free workshops, each business team will present their concept to a panel of business leaders and food industry experts, Boyce said. Once they are ready, business teams will move forward to work with the Rutgers FIC staff of food industry veterans to commercialize and produce their product for the marketplace.
And while the workshop and product development is being offered free of cost, entrepreneurs will need to invest in product, but at a reduced expense. Boyce said Interfaith Neighbors will provide each team with a low interest loan for up to 50 percent of the funds required to commercialize, produce, and launch a business, Boyce said.
The Nov. 16 seminar is $15 and registration can be done online via www.businessdevcenter.org/foodbusinessbasics.
This post was written by Gillian