Why do we measure success of startups and small businesses through flashy web sites and pitch decks to venture capital secured? We’ve all seen that headline, “New Company Raises $15 Million in Funding!” But at Cure[ate], we’re interested, and we think everyone should be interested, in the strategy and tactics that happen to grow and scale a business once the money is raised. That’s what takes real grit and stamina. Where is the conversation and dialogue around those wins?
There is no one silver bullet solution to growing all businesses but we at Cure[ate] hope to shine light on best practices to help guide business owners in making thoughtful, targeted, strategic decisions to impact your business, particularly in the food & beverage industry. We’ve broken down the growth stages that we work with into three blog posts. Here is part 1 of our growth series.
When building a business, one aspect that’s as important as the product or service itself is the target audience. Who’s going to use what you’re selling? Why does it appeal to that group better than another? How are you going to target them specifically?
If you’re worried or unable to answer some of these questions, then Cure[ate] has the perfect answer for you. Outlined below are our tactics for Growth Stage 1: Business Development on our growth chart.
The Taste Kitchen
The first step in building a community around your brand is to establish your target market. Bearing this in mind, we pioneered the Taste Kitchen in January of this year. Through our own take on marketing conglomerates’ test kitchens, we present an opportunity for small business owners to share their product in a personalized setting with a hand-selected group of individuals. The Taste Kitchen allows for you to test a new product as well as develop your own skills in telling your story and selling your product in person. Following each Taste Kitchen, we provide in-depth analysis and feedback, along with a marketing plan for the next quarter. Want to get in on this? Get in touch with us, and we’ll get the ball rolling to set up the coolest tasting event you’ve ever done.
Culture and Trend Research
Culture (in its different shapes and forms) is everywhere around us. Some cultures are as old as humans themselves, while new cultures are born practically every day. It influences our thoughts, beliefs and actions in all aspects of life – and food is no different. When you begin to focus on your target audience, their culture becomes a vital aspect that will influence how you market your product to them. Through individualized culture research, we help you determine how your product appeals to your target market, and what you can do to improve it to better serve your community.
Similarly, trends are constantly shifting and changing. If enough celebrities get photographed wearing a bright green sweater, you can bet that the brand they’re wearing and the color green are going to be the latest fashion craze. Although the food and beverage market works a bit differently, trends still affect when people are more likely to buy one product over another. We are here to help you determine how your product will be affected by both global and local trends in order to help foster a community at the best time, in the best place. Through our focused and in-depth research we find a way for you to inspire the people you want to reach out to through your service or product.
Once you have the culture and trends that surround your target market figured out, you need to start making connections with pre-existing networks and distribution channels that can aid in your growth.
Pre-Established Network Connections
Here at Cure[ate] we value connecting others, and since our services can be tailored to each individual business owner, we are also in the unique position to connect different products and service providers. When the big guy wants to build community at the local level, we orchestrate creating a partnership with a local small business so both sides can benefit. Such a connection works for both parties; the larger business is able to connect with the local community through a small business, while the small business is able to expand its network and/or production through the larger. Building community should not be limited to just connecting with customers, it should include forming a network with other businesses in a way that can benefit both of you.
Distribution Channels and Local Procurement
What happens when small business growth is rooted in citywide initiatives and private sector goals? How do we change the dialogue around sustainability or even job creation through food & beverage small business? Creating partnerships and distribution opportunities in both public and private sector for local food & beverage small business owners can shift that conversation.
Cure[ate] works on the new Baltimore Food Hub initiative with American Communities Trust and the Baltimore Integration Partnership. We identify up-and-coming food & beverage small businesses made in the Baltimore area, and help source key buyers from anchor institutions, hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets. Anchor institutions like Johns Hopkins, MICA, and Loyola have made commitments to purchasing local by working with their larger catering contracts with Sodexo, Bon Apetit, and CulinArt (to name a few). What would it look like if major food systems (like universities and hospitals) contributed a small percentage of their purchasing dollar back into their local economies? How can food & beverage be that vehicle of change and job growth? Cure[ate] works with major players to identify and execute these partnerships by researching product procurement needs, executing face-to-face connections through initiatives like our Vendor Fair at Lexington Market, and working with small businesses on their growth plans. Check out a full recap of the event here: http://cureate.co/made-in-your-city, and watch the video below.
And with that, you’ve completed the first stage in growing your business in a smart and meaningful way – the Cure[ate] way. Get in touch with us for more information on these and the next steps.