For those who have a food product idea they think people will buy, but need help realizing and navigating the myriad start-up steps?
The Ennovation Center in Independence has partnered with the Mid-Continent Public Library and the Missouri Small Business Development Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to organize a free “Food Manufacturing School” over the course of 10 weeks starting in April.
The class will be limited to about a dozen participants, Ennovation Center Executive Director Xander Winkel said, so participants can receive some individual guidance. The food manufacturing school series will offer hands-on training in all areas of the industry, and at the end they'll pitch their product to local stores and distributors.
Nearly all of the weekly sessions will be at the Ennovation Center business incubator, which occupies part of the former hospital building on Forest Avenue near Truman Road.
“We have done a similar class two years ago, but this is the first we're working very closely with Mid-Continent Public Library and the Small Business Development Center,” Winkel said. “When we did it two years ago, we just said, ‘Let's put this together and see if we've got some interest.’ This year, I think we've got it nice and polished and got the right experts.”
The weekly topics will be:
• Regulations and safety.
• Marketing: developing a strong brand.
• Omni-channel sales: developing an efficient sales strategies.
• Legal considerations.
• Supply chain.
• Next steps for marketing and sales.
• Human resources.
• Processing efficiency.
Guest experts will be from health and food science, marketing, law and a regional coffee producer.
Mid-Continent's Square One Small Business Services, which is funded by a grant from the Kauffman Foundation hosts has various programs and resources to help local entrepreneurs with access to information, programs and business opportunities.
Morgan Perry of Square One says the class series is targeted at culinary start-ups who hope to take their small operations to the next level.
“Kansas City has a great number of ‘foodpreneurs’ who are selling things like homemade jams and sauces but aren’t sure how to build a solid business around their product,” Perry said in a release. “This series will offer these entrepreneurs all the tools they need to succeed.”
Winkel said he imagines some of the kitchen clients at the Ennovation Center will be among the course participants.
“We want the students we accepted,” he said. “They're in business, they have a product, so how do we help them with distribution?”
Applicants will be accepted through March 10. To apply, go to: bit.ly/foodmanschool.