Homegrown by Heroes: Product Differentiation in a Competitive Market

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 27: homegrown by heroes

A FEW QUOTES

  • Today, more than 20 million veterans live in the U.S. – a few who served as early as World War II and many having served as recently as Afghanistan. More than 44 percent of the men and women who serve our country have roots in small towns and rural communities dotted all across the country. As they make the transition from military back to civilian life, many veterans choose agriculture for their profession. Some return to family farm operations, others strike new ground. To help these farmer veterans differentiate and market their products, Farm Credit and the Farmer Veteran Coalition have been partnering on the Homegrown by Heroes program – a voluntary marketing label for farmer veterans.

  • I never even heard of a Farmer's Market, until I was in Iraq and they were telling me about this! Selling direct to the customer. 

  • My whole life I was making $6/hour. It's all I was going to get paid, until someone died in my family. Nothing had changed from 1940-2003, produce prices hadn't gone up but all of the expenses had gone up. 

  • A skill that you need to possess? Commitment, clear goals, and work all day knowing that you've accomplished something. Pushing electrons around the screen is far less fulfilling than getting the dirt under your fingernails. 

  • Being loyal to the job, fearless and a risk taker - these are both traits for farmers and those in the military. They have to have an underlying sense of optimism. 

  • Mother Nature is your boss, and she doesn't care about you.

  • The ability to adapt and overcome - one of the main phrases ingrained in our brains in the military.

  • Built a distillery (Flying Buck Moonshine) at Bigg Riggs Farm to increase value-added product line!

  • A strong belief of ours at Cureate is that over time, we will begin seeing consumers vote with their purchasing dollars even more so than we are today - recognizing that where your food is grown, produced and who is benefiting from that supply chain - is really going to matter.

  • Homegrown by Heroes is a label that instantly communicates to people that this is a veteran-owned product/business, without having to say it each time you want to make a sale.

  • People are super appreciative, buying from me because I am a veteran. Especially in Alexandria, where there is military base, people like supporting us. 

  • You need an expectation of what you're going to put in, and what you're going to get out. You don't want to wake up one day and having spent all of your retirement. 

  • You need to know who you're going to sell to! People think: I'm going to grow great stuff and people will come. But that is not true. When you enter into consumer-based agriculture, you need a marketing plan. It doesn't matter what you're growing, it matters that you have access to an earning stream. 

  • Don't quit your day job if you want to get into farming. 

  • If you're really interested in farming - you need to go work on a farm. Start at the bottom and work your way up - go pick some green beans. Bigg Riggs is here for you.
     

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Wild Kombucha: Food Manufacturing in the Mid-Atlantic

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 25: Wild kombucha - FOOD MANUFACTURING IN THE MID-ATLANTIC

A FEW QUOTES

  • “The invention of American industrialism, the creation of urban life, suburbia and its hamburger-loving teens, better living through plastics, and the financialization of the economy: The straw was there for all these things. You can learn a lot about this country, and the dilemmas of contemporary capitalism, by taking a straw-eyed view.”

  • “I don’t know what appealed to me so much about paper cups. But I sensed from the outset that paper cups were part of the way America was headed.” - Ray Kroc.

  • "America was tilting toward speed and disposability. And throwaway products were the future."

  • "Local governments may legislate the use of the plastic straw, but they can’t do a thing about the vast system that’s attached to the straw, which created first disposable products, then companies, and finally people."

  • From day #1 - the environment has been crucial to our operations. Drink local is about supporting our local community, supporting the makers in that community. The idea is, if we put our dollars into local shop owners - they put it back into the community. For live wild - our partnership with the National Wildlife Federation AND also how we've built out business. We've built our business in a gutsy way. [...] Don't be afraid to take chances and support your local community while you're at it.

  • We started our business in Baltimore. [...] The costs are not as high. You don't need to be in New York or LA to reach people in New York or LA. 

  • Spoiler alert: moving into a new BIGGER brewery! 

  • 200% increase in three years - with zero outside investment. 

  • Within small businesses and start-up there's this emphasis on run rate, but we never did that. We just sat down and said "what do we have to buy next" and we have grown at a healthy manner instead of stretching ourselves too thin.

  • We have not forgotten where we came from - we're in 500 stores in a 120 mile radius. It's about saturation and visibility. 

  • Sit down with your local representatives. Get involved in your local government. 

  • The product you can make in-house has much more of an impact than going through a co-packing facility. 
     

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Product Development & Scaling Up: Timber Pizza, Call Your Mother Deli

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 24: ON PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND SCALING UP

A FEW QUOTES

  • Our beloved International House of Pancakes IHOP changed its name to IHOb. Everyone assumed the B would stand for Breakfast. Some joked maybe the B was for Blockchain. What no one saw coming was the real answer of the name and fundamental business switch… BURGERS. International House of Burgers. IHOP is now changing over to IHOB. In a Fast Company article the author quipped: “Adweek gave credit to iHOb for responding well to the decreasing popularity of pancakes and the rising interest in burgers, and for making funny on the social medias. But, you know, likes and retweets aren’t going to keep the lights on in the stores.”

  • Speaking of social media, @soloucity asked Wendy’s their thought about the big burger switch. Quote: “so @Wendys  u just gonna let @IHOb sell burgers on your block?” Wendy’s wrote back: “Not really afraid of the burgers from a place that decided pancakes were too hard.”

  • I fell in love [with the Brooklyn pizza place] as the heartbeat of the neighborhood

  • I had heard whispers that at one time McDonald's served pizza... I did research and two McDonald's still served pizza - one of which being in West Virginia. 

  • It's easy to live in a bubble of what your friends are saying, or like-minded groups

  • Everything on the menu you should be able to pronounce

  • Our motto has never changed: work really really really hard, be really really really nice, and truly give a F. 

  • When we launched, we had zero cooking experience. We had no idea how to run a kitchen.

  • You don't have that luck unless you're bringing the heat every day

  • The restaurant, there are slow nights. Farmers Markets, what if there's rain? From very early on, we decided how can we have as many revenue streams as possible to lessen the risks. 

  • None of this is possible if the pizza isn't great. #1 priority if the pizza isn't great every single day. Our expo checks the bottoms of every single pizza - our pizzas get a 360 degree inspection.

  • If we had gone straight to a restaurant [and skipped Farmers Markets] we wouldn't have realized the importance of speed for getting out our pizzas. The difference between 5 to 7 minutes could change the experience. 

  • I love farmers markets because we get to establish relationships with farmers and purveyors; it's great brand awareness and marketing - we're making money and not spending money; it's a fantastic place to train staff. 

  • Timberization of the bagel menu!

  • Things always cost more than what people are expecting or anticipating to spend

  • Love Money - friends & family money. We couldn't have done it without establishing credibility at the farmers market. 

  • Waterfall Payment

  • 50% VIBES, 50% FOOD. 

  • There aren't a ton of reasons to eat out when there are so many ways to get food delivered to your house. Heavy emphasis on vibes from day one.

  • Our seating is communal and we want the restaurant to feel like a neighborhood hangout. 
     

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Baltimore Arabbers: Preserving tradition. Feeding communities.

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 23: BALTIMORE ARABBERS - PRESERVING TRADITION, FEEDING COMMUNITIES

A FEW QUOTES

  • Juneteenth - an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas, and more generally the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederacy of the southern United States.

  • We recognize Arabbing as an African-American folk tradition; an economically-viable system and method of apprenticeship unique to Baltimore.

  • Arabbing is a long-standing, locally-specific African American tradition out of Baltimore. An Arabber is a street vendor selling fruits and vegetables from a colorful, horse-drawn cart. Once a common sight in American East Coast cities, only a handful of Arabbers still walk the streets of Baltimore. On this episode, we sit down with James Chase, President of the Arabbers Preservation Society and an Arabber himself; and Holden Warren, filmmaker and producer of John & James - a documentary short about James’ work and his relationship with the Amish.

  • Best part of being an Arabber is being your own boss.

  • If you have a load of watermelons you may want to go North, if you have a load of tomatoes you may go South - it depends on the season, what you have on your cart.

  • It makes me feel wonderful that people are depending on me. For us to provide the elderly with fresh fruits and vegetables, even if they don't have money - we extend a line of credit. We are going to get older too, who's going to take care of us? [...] I love going there to serve these people [...] it's a hard world out there. 

  • People may think its outdated, but when kids come into The Yard and see the horses, and you see their faces...

  • We want to create a horse discovery center, as therapy animals. It is a place with a lot of violence [...] violence is segregated to very specific neighborhoods and the Arabbers are very much ensconced in the middle of the violence. 

  • James' work is very important because of the fruit, because of entrepreneurship but also to create a place of healing [...] a de facto therapy center. 

  • I had all of the opportunities to be a part of the drug circles, but because of the older generation taking me in and teaching me [...] the youth aren't getting the same love and attention. 

  • All that stuff on social media ain't nothing but illusions. 

  • People don't realize this connection exists between the Arabbers and the Amish/Mennonite communities [in New Holland PA].

  • The only people who work their horses like the Arabbers do are the Amish. They're using them in the same capacity - there's this really intrinsic bond. 

  • Given the racial politics of this country right now, [as a black and white guy] they're able to have [honest] conversations and respect each other on such a deep level. [...] [This film] is about humanity and this deeper connection. 

  • Don't be a pretender, just be yourself. You just have to be yourself.

  • As long as you have respect for yourself, and respect for others - you can do anything you want. The sky's the limit. Me, I'm just a people's person. It comes from me being exposed to different things in life. I've seen a lot of things. 

  • Don't sit out here on these streets wasting your time. Trouble is easy to get into, and hard to get out of. Just look around, it's all in your face of what you could become. 

  • If you ever want to come to Baltimore and see the Arabber yard, come check us out! 

  • Support by donating, spread the word, buy some fruit.

  • To Juneteenth: Baltimore as a free city - one of the first entrepreneurial things the Black community could do is Arabbing. It is the beginning of Black entrepreneurship. 

  • The American dream: you don't have anyone above you. People came here to become a self-made man. It wasn't about becoming rich, it was about being your own dude. [...] It's about freedom and perserverance. Having agency and ownership of your action and living out your true purpose. 
     

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I AM WANDA: A New Generation of Food Sheros

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 22: A NEW GENERATION OF FOOD SHEROS

A FEW QUOTES

  • Tambra Raye Stevenson is the founder and CEO of WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics, and Agriculture, an organization inspiring a new generation of women and girls to become ‘food sheroes’ in Africa and Diaspora.

  • "Globally the state of opportunities for women and girls of African descent in agriculture and nutrition is dismal at best — as a consumer and change-maker. WANDA works to change the next chapter of this story through our innovative educational programs, advocacy and policy and much-needed promotion for women and girls making an impact from farm to fork."

  • We wanted to see imagery and narrative that is not on the forefront to motivate women and girls - to see themselves in dynamic ways, in which they can be and historically have been. Putting them in positions of power. 

  • That food shero story, for me, is multiple layers. My daughter Ruby had a cavity at age 4 [...] the teacher using junk food as rewards. 

  • You don't have to wait to create the change that you want to see. How can a 5 year old advocate and create the change?

  • We know the big companies see youth as a prime market, as brand ambassadors. 

  • Your micro-actions matter - down to rewarding someone with Swedish Fish (or whatever candy) instead of another, more healthy product.

  • How do we create imagery like the Beyoncé of nutrition? What about for Blue Ivy's generation? That is Little Wanda.

  • The local food economies [in Africa] already put women in positions of power. 

  • You are a creator. You are a producer. But with the community, with the resources, that can change. [...] We don't need more diabetic dessert companies, but we do need healthier snacks and food options.

  • There's something within us that keeps biting at us until we complete it - and that is our soul completion project. It really is a culmination of the spirits aligning. 

  • Using edutainment to create a powerful message [...] our audience, 5 year olds and up, there's a focus on literacy and how can parents, teachers use our products to teach young girls to be food sheros.

  • BFF - Best Foodie Friends

  • For millet to grow in northern Nigeria, it is very arid - desert-like. It takes a strong millet to grow there - it is a strong food, for a strong people. Eating it, it is in your DNA.

  • Food is a great way to bridge cross-cultural communications - we need more global citizens.

  • WANDA was an extension of NativSol Kitchen - to have women and girls realize they're a part of a bigger movement. WANDA is a network to bring us together, but to bring girls to the table and learn how to create and sell their products. Perhaps they're creating products around the characters that we have. 

  • Kid entrepreneurs - giving them a platform and space for them to use the framework/mission of WANDA.
     

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Building Your Brand Narrative - from Social Media to TED Talk

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 21: BUILDING YOUR BRAND NARRATIVE

A FEW QUOTES

  • TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking one of the main pieces of advice from Chris Anderson, the head Curator of TED, reads: "Make your idea worth sharing. By that I mean, ask yourself the question: "Who does this idea benefit?" And I need you to be honest with the answer. If the idea only serves you or your organization, then, I'm sorry to say, it's probably not worth sharing."

  • One of the things we struggled with when we hit the ground was access to information. This is something Puerto Ricans experienced trying to reach family members. No one knew what was happening on the Island. Almost accidentally, but as a pat of the DNA of José and who I am, we wanted to share in real time what was going on and feel a part of the response. 

  • It [social media] was not polished, but it was real.

  • We had dispatches of what was happening each day and it created a movement. Storytelling creates the opportunity to have people engaged, even if they couldn't be there in person.

  • Dine n' Dash takes over 35 restaurants in the District (Penn Quarter & 14th St). We're launching a pop-up restaurant this year "Puerto Rico House" - featuring the food, culture, music, drink of Puerto Rico and our #ChefsforPuertoRico

  • The food trucks were our delivery angels in Puerto Rico.

  • We're often thinking: how do I get what I have into someone else's brain. It tends to be focused on yourself. This is normal. [...] But you have to put yourself in someone else's shoes. Who is your audience and what are the things that they want to know about? What's the way they want to learn? 

  • Three tips for delivering a compelling narrative: (1) have a specific focus; (2) what is the headline that is going to capture people's attention; (3) practice, practice, practice.
     

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How to Become a B Corp and Measure Your Impact

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Show host Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 20: HOW TO BECOME A B CORP AND MEASURE YOUR IMPACT

A FEW QUOTES

  • At Cureate, we’re on a mission to shift purchasing dollars back into local economies; while strengthening our small business community through access to education and resources. That first function: shifting purchasing dollars. How do we do that? Well we have a procurement platform where Buyers issue RFPs (request for proposals) to small business owners to bid. We’ve created a competitive, transparent local marketplace for big and small to do business with one another. We’re also able to see the trends in supply and demand - what types of products are small businesses producing vs. the ASK of the Buyer - and how much alignment is there really. This is a very unique position to be in.

  • B Lab is a nonprofit based near Philadelphia - who issues the B Corp Certification.

  • Employees, Suppliers, Environment, Community, etc. are all considered for B Corp Certification.

  • 2500 B Corps Certified in the United States, and B Corps are located in 150 different countries - 12% of companies are food & agriculture based companies.

  • 200 question survey focused on governance, community, workers, customers, and the environment.

  • Why should food companies consider becoming B Corp?

  • When you look at what food & agriculture is, what you're putting into your body, you want to have food that is sourced locally, organically - shipping grapes in from Chile is not environmentally friendly. [...] A lot of aspects of food, you can see that it's all interconnected.

  • 68 cents of every dollar goes back into the local economy when you buy from a small business

  • When we talk about building food businesses, we may talk about different aspects of business in silos - food safety links to sourcing links to your mission. It's all interconnected.

  • Certification fees range from $500-$50,000 depending on your revenues.

  • B Impact Assessment: https://bimpactassessment.net/
     

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A Minisode: Are Pop-Ups Worth It?

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Show host Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

On this Minisode: what are parts of the process to consider when deciding if a "pop-up" concept is worth it for your business?

EPISODE 19: ARE POP-UPS WORTH IT?

 

A few show notes

  • Are Pop-Ups Worth It blog post with a FLOW CHART

  • First: You need to determine your objective. Oftentimes when I am setting a goal, I need to envision -- what does a successful outcome look like. This helps in framing what it is I am ultimately going to achieve.

  • #PROTIP: In order to avoid a sticky situation, make sure all stakeholders involved are on the same page. Don’t be afraid to write a MOU - memorandum of understanding - for all parties to sign. You need to make sure your IP - intellectual property - is covered AND that you are paid for your labor/ingredients/products if you are no the one collecting the money on-site.

  • Second: Who is your target audience? Have you thought about who your early adopter is of your product? Do they work around or live near the location where you are popping-up? If not, how will they get there? When thinking about your early adopter, I also often call this a Buyer Persona or Buyer Profile. Who is this person? 

  • Third: Have you thought through the user experience? I don’t mean just menu concept and purchasing ingredients either. What is the ambiance? When people arrive, are they greeted with a certain product, a smile, a secret clue? What is the entire user experience of the operation. 

  • The last and very important piece is - what is your call-to-action? What do you want people to do once they’ve had this experience? Do you want them to sign-up for a listserv to stay up to date with future events? Do you want them to tag photos with a particular hashtag? Do you have a secret code to give out to guests to provide to their friends so the word-of-mouth keeps spreading? Make this call-to-action UNIQUE to your experience.

  • So to recap: Define your objective, Identify your target audience, Think through the user experience, and Develop a call-to-action
     

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On Management and Workforce Development: Humanim's Culinary Social Enterprises

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Show host Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 18: ON MANAGEMENT AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT - HUMANIM'S CULINARY ENTERPRISES

A FEW QUOTES

  • "I've interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurial parents and there's one consistent theme I keep hearing: how much the jump off the deep dive into parenting readied them for business challenges in a way they didn't first expect. In fact, of the many skills they gain are completely in line with what entrepreneurship asks of us.” — Sarah K. Peck 

  • If you start to miss deadlines, you start losing money. At City Seeds and School of Food, I've learned how to blend thoughtfulness with deadlines. 

  • China, from ACT, told me: everyday start with 3 things you must accomplish and whatever happens throughout your day - those are the 3 things you have to do. 

  • Best practices for creating management systems: (1) USE SLACK! (2) Be an opposite of a micro-manager (3) I encourage failure - if we don't take calculated risks, we won't know!

  • A question I often ask my operations manager, Mel Foldes, is "what do you think?" I quickly turn it around and get her suggestion first. I don't want to provide my input first, [as opposed to] ... developing that critical thinking. 

  • Scenarios help describe what I'd like to see in a particular outcome. I describe what the goal is, as opposed to saying what they need to do in order to achieve that goal. 

  • Job Training Scorecard is a deeper-dive on how we look at the progress of our team. 

  • Having this scorecard puts a metric on our impact and also allows us to be reflective on how far we've come. 

  • We're offering culinary classes in partnership with entrepreneurs like Taharka Brothers.

  • How being a parent helps in running a business. How? (1) keeps me focused; I always make sure there is an agenda at every meeting (2) staying flexible and evolving (3) slowing down.
     

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Positive Force for Change: Best Practices in Co-Creative Innovation

LIVE at The Line Hotel in Adams Morgan in partnership with Full Service Radio... 

Do you run a small business, or have dreams to start one? Each week on The Tidbit, brought to you by Cureate, we discuss tidbits of knowledge around starting and running a small business with a food and beverage lens. Show host Kim Bryden sits down with guest experts and shares trending new topics on food, business and culture to help best prepare you for your business journey. 

EPISODE 17: positive force for change: best practices for co-creative innovation

A FEW QUOTES

  • From my understanding: there’s an old power model that is like a castle — at least that is how it is coined in Henry and Jeremy’s book. Castle’s are like government organizations, or even Apple. Oftentimes acting in secrecy and then deploying a new regulation or new product and say - that is that! Deal with the outcome. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the new power model looks like Kickstarter or Etsy - where the power of the crowd is what makes the entity strong (not the consolidation of power).

  • This is an ancient, and fundamental power. When I try to understand something, I look to nature [...] nature distributes power and creates resiliency.

  • Systems are not supposed to be arbitrarily consistent. You are supposed to ebb-and-flow and have many feedback loops - both positive and negative.

  • We actively work to mitigate feedback and participation - these "negative" feedback loops.

  • People say, "growth at all costs!" but it's optimizing for just one variable — wealth.

  • Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.

  • A Recollective Way: (1) Sharing Power; (2) Prioritize Relationships; (3) Leverage Heterogeneity; (4) Legitimize All Ways of Knowing; (5) Prototype Early and Often

  • When this country first started, there weren't for-profits and non-profits — there were mutual benefit corporations

  • Act with reciprocity in all aspects of your business. 
     

RESOURCES

Some of the ideas Jess shared on the show were inspired and informed by the work of the following thought leaders, among many others:

Jess' work is available at:

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