Session Descriptions

Monday, Nov. 9, 2020

Keynote: Food Business Trends & Innovation during the time of coronavirus. Tera Johnson of UW-Madison’s Food Finance Institute will discuss how food business entrepreneurs are adapting to this year of the coronavirus pandemic, and what we can expect for the future. She’ll identify issues that businesses need to consider to stay in operation, and provide advice to start-ups about how to tap into anticipated trends.

Monday Morning Regional Entrepreneur Panels:

Dane County, South Central Region: Business operation during times of uncertainty: Keeping business going, while supporting those in need. Learn about local innovations to support businesses during the pandemic, and about individual business innovation that has enabled small enterprises to stay afloat. Chris Brockel will share lessons from the ‘FEED to go’ initiative, a community supported initiative that provides free meals to people in need while keeping local food entrepreneurs in business. Christine Ameigh will discuss the food ordering system piloted at Christine’s Kitchen, which is providing an outlet for upwards of 40 businesses to maintain sales and customers. Donale Richards will share his experience building his own business, Madtown Food Services, during the pandemic, and how participation in the Cook it Forward initiative has kept the business growing while tackling food insecurity in Madison. Namgyal Ponsal will discuss her family business, Little Tibet Restaurant. Namgyal will share lessons about adapting to the coronavirus pandemic and about plans for the business to become a vendor at the future Madison Public Market. 

Ashland/Bayfield, Northern Region: Farmer’s Market Adaptation; Shifting Policies and Procedures in the Era of COVID-19. Three local farmers market managers discuss their experience with adjusting market policies to pandemic conditions. Both first-time and experienced market managers review adaptations to physical distancing and PPE protocols, working with their respective health departments and city representatives, and shifting to online ordering for consumer and vendor safety. Join the conversation to learn more! 

Green Bay, NE Region: Edible Startups, It’s a Small and Diverse World After All. The food industry has a diversity of opportunities from manufacturing to distribution to sales.  It is also an industry where locally owned and operated businesses know one another.  For this panel, learn about manufacturing, distribution, and sales by hearing from Alex Galt co-owner of uBu Foods and former co-owner of Kavarna Coffeehouse, Brian Gronski of Farmer’s Best, and Tara Yang of Main Oriental Market in downtown Green Bay.  These three separate businesses operate in different areas of the food industry, but are all part of one food business ecosystem.

Crawford County, SW Region: Values-based business models: How to create a business in line with your values. In this session, you’ll hear from local entrepreneurs about their experiences in creating a food business in line with their values. Panelists will share about their business, their values, and their successes, as well as lessons for other entrepreneurs.

Workshop 1

Session 1: Food Safety & Regulatory Considerations for Processed Products. Thinking of starting a food business in Wisconsin but not sure where to start?  This program will walk you through the initial steps to take and questions to ask to get the license you need for your business.  Whether you are planning to sell your restaurant’s secret sauce to local groceries, thinking of selling candies and confections for the holidays, or baking cookies from your home, this program will help you identify the people that you need to talk with so that your business has the correct license and you can start processing with food safety in mind.  Barb Ingham, University of Wisconsin Extension Food Safety Specialist, will guide you through the steps to take and questions to ask to get your food business off to a successful and food-safe start.

Session 2: Food Safety & Regulatory Considerations in a Shared Use Kitchen. Food Safety is of concern no matter where a product is being manufactured. In shared kitchen spaces, food safety requirements take on an added dimension, as different producers are operating under different sets of rules for their products, yet sharing equipment and space. Wholesale meat processing and dairy activities, in particular, are next to impossible to accomplish in a shared kitchen space due to hazard control requirements. Chris Brockel, the manager of FEED Kitchens, a shared use facility in Madison, will discuss food safety, regulatory, and behavioral practices that are specific to shared kitchens. 

Session 3: How to Start a Mobile Food Business: I have a great idea, what next? It can take years for new business owners to be able to ask proactive questions and they  often find themselves in reaction mode. In this session you will learn how to ask proactive questions and gain insight to the requirements and regulations in Wisconsin for mobile food vendors. Join City of Madison Street Vending Coordinator Meghan Blake- Horst for a discussion on proactive planning for food cart vendors.

Plenary Panel: Social Entrepreneurship Panel: Building a Values-based Business.

Can we change our thinking about the business model? This year has seen long-overdue nationwide attention to racial justice, to economic disparities in our communities, and to the inequitable health outcomes and economic disruption from covid-19. At the same time, restaurants and food businesses are struggling to stay afloat. What role can small businesses play to promote community well-being? How can we run businesses that are based on core values? During this panel discussion, we’ll explore structures such as cooperatives, social enterprises including B-corps, and non-profits can be used to build businesses that prioritize values over profit. This panel of social entrepreneurs will address issues of community partnerships, employee well-being, and collective management. Join Francesca Hong of Morris-Ramen and Cook it Forward, Christy McKenzie of Pasture and Plenty, and Ryan Browne of Working Draft Beer Company to stretch your thinking on the role of business in creating and sustaining community and well-being. 

Monday Flash and Consulting Sessions 

  1. Social Media Marketing & Customer Relations (Don Stanley, 3 Rhino Media) – According to studies, 79% of the US population uses social media and the majority of these users follow, interact and connect with businesses on social media. In this session, we will look at how businesses and organization are successfully using social media as a strategic part of the sales and marketing process. We will look at the do’s and don’ts of using social media for establishing business goals. We will also look at how smart marketing has shifted to social, what customers want for you on social, the top social networks for connecting with customers and the types of content (free and paid ads) that are working best today as we face unprecedented business challenges.
  2. Lawyer Talk: Legal Issues for Food & Beverage Businesses (Jeffrey Glazer, UW-Madison Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic) – Food and beverage businesses need to comply with laws for establishing and registering a business. Additionally, they need to comply with federal and state laws concerning food safety, labeling, and transporting product. Attend this session with lawyer Jeffrey Glazer to get in the know about legal issues concerning food and beverage production.
  3. What Scale is right for me? Side-hustle to All-in (Christine Ameigh, invited; Slide Gourmet Potato Chips). Many local food businesses start at a small scale to test their product and market. Operating at a small scale often means holding on to a paying job while balancing the demands of a new business. At what point does it make sense to go all in with the business? How can entrepreneurs determine the right scale of business to meet their life-style goals? Christine Ameigh created and scaled Slide Gourmet Potato Chips, along with other businesses. She’ll talk about criteria for making a decision about scale of operations.

One on one Consulting: This is your chance to share your business idea or business story with resource support people or veteran food entrepreneurs. Sign up for a session with an individual best suited to answer your particular questions. Consultants listed HERE. You can sign up for a one-on-one session after you’ve registered via Eventbrite. We will send all registered participants a link to the sign-up form. 

Monday Afternoon Regional Networking Sessions

Dane County, South Central Region: Pitch Session. Practice your pitch with other entrepreneurs as your audience! We’ll talk about elements of a good business pitch, practice, give each other support and feedback, as we learn about local businesses.

Ashland/Bayfield, Northern Region: Ask an Entrepreneur. Northern Wisconsin food producers will hear the stories of how two food producers in Ashland and Bayfield counties developed their businesses and are marketing products. The speakers will talk about what’s worked and what needs help, while engaging all participants in a conversation about how to help grow a thriving regional foods market together.

Green Bay, NE Region: Pitch Session. Practice your pitch with other entrepreneurs as your audience! We’ll talk about elements of a good business pitch, practice, give each other support and feedback, as we learn about local businesses. 

Crawford County, SW Region: Networking Session. We know that it’s important to get to know your fellow entrepreneurs, even if it’s just to support each other! Therefore, we’re providing a virtual space for you to connect with each other. This space is hosted by Extension Crawford County’s Community Development Educator, Jessica Jane Spayde.


Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2020

Keynote: Producing Your Product: Where and How. Mary Pat Carlson is the Dean of Shared Use Kitchens, and she joins us here at Edible Startup Summit to share her knowledge about production facilities and processes. She’ll discuss the pros and cons of producing your product in a shared use kitchen, an incubator facility, with a co-packer, or developing your own production factory.

Tuesday Morning Regional Resource Panels:

Join with fellow entrepreneurs from your region to learn about resources available to help you plan, grow, and finance your business. Each region will invite resource people working in the region to speak during this panel. 

Dane County, South Central Region: Resource Panel. Come learn about organizations and agencies that are here to assist you in developing your business. We have a plethora of support services in Dane County; here’s your chance to find out more about them. Hear from Amy Bruner-Zimmerman of SBDC; Cheryl Vandenburgt of WWBIC; Lois Federman from DATCP’s ‘Something Special from Wisconsin’ program; April Yancer of DATCP’s Department of Agricultural Development; Brian Jorata, DATCP’s Bureau of Food & Recreational Businesses (food safety & licensing); Chris Brockel from FEED Kitchens; and Sharon Johnson from Economic Empowerment of Wisconsin – a new organization providing mentoring and support for entrepreneurs of color. 

Ashland/Bayfield, Northern Region: Opening a New Market in a Digital Era: An interview with Erin Hutchinson of Authentic Superior. Join us for a live interview with Erin Hutchinson, founder of Authentic Superior, an online marketplace selling hand-crafted food and art from South Shore artists and farmers. We’ll talk about web marketing and entrepreneurship, the process of opening a virtual store during the pandemic, and aspirations for Authentic Superior. If you are interested in listing your products with Authentic Superior, be sure to tune in!

Green Bay, NE Region: Resource Panel. Learn about local resources in Northeastern Wisconsin for entrepreneur and business.  Tara Carr will describe the resources available through the Small Business Development Centers at UW-Green Bay and UW-Oshkosh. Rachel Johnson will cover Fox Valley Technical College, their Venture Center and culinary program.  Hear from Stephanie Cataldo Pabich about Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College and community kitchens.  Barb LaMue from NEW North will talk about the entrepreneur resources available through the partnerships of NEW North and the resources that the local economic development organizations and local governments offer entrepreneurs and businesses. Mark Lehman of DATCP’s Bureau of Food & Recreational Businesses (food safety & licensing) will join the panel.

Crawford County, SW Region: Resource Panel. We hear about self-made entrepreneurs, but the truth is that no one starts or grows their business completely on their own. In Southwest Wisconsin, we have a plethora of business supports, and this session will introduce you to many of these people and organizations here to support you. Panelists include Kristi Smith of SBDC SW Wisconsin; Kate Koziol of the Platteville Business Inculbator; Brad Niemcek from the Kickapoo Culinary Center in Gays Mills; Julie Emslie of WWBIC SW Wisconsin; and Carol Johnson DATCP’s Bureau of Food & Recreational Businesses (food safety & licensing).

Workshop 2

Session 1: Business Planning for Startups – An early step to starting a business is to develop a plan. Your business plan gives structure to your ideas, determines feasibility, and gives clarity to your operations, marketing, management, and financial plans. Having a good business plan will be your vehicle to attract investment into your business, or to get a loan. Join Paul Dietmann, senior lending specialist on Compeer Financial’s Diversified Markets team and co-author of the books Fearless Farm Finances and Financial Risk Management for Specialty Crop Farmers, to get a start on your business plan or to give your existing plan an update.

Session 2: Product Pricing: Know your Costs – In this ever popular session, Peter Robertson of RPs Past and Tribe 9 foods will share details on how to price your food product. Learn how to determine direct costs (ingredients, Packaging, labor) and overhead costs (facility, equipment) in order to get a baseline for pricing your product. 

Session 3: New Product Development and LaunchLaunching your business is one thing, creating and launching your first – or any – product is another. Though we sometimes think of these as separate iterative processes, any product you develop is rooted in your business plan, your brand, and your target consumer. In addition, all departments within your business have a part to play in bringing a product to market. This means having an understanding of the new product development process early on, and the key considerations and roles involved, helps you best ensure a profitable and successful product launch. In this session we will review a new product development and launch process to help you think through both the strategy and tactics of successful product development and how Operations, Quality, Food Safety, Sales and Marketing, etc. play a part.  

Session 4: Brand Strategy  Katie Mleziva of Real Food Brands will provide insights about how to develop a brand strategy that sets your brand apart. This workshop will address how to identify your ideal consumer and their needs, and overlay that with your company mission, vision, values, and competitive advantages. This discussion will guide you towards creating your brand pillars, positioning and personality. These serve as a north star to help align your decisions on the back and front end to build a strong brand.  

Workshop 3

Session 1: Marketing & Distribution: Using on-line ordering to distribute your own product – Presenters will discuss the pivot to online sales from a storefront and initial challenges during this transition. In addition to online sales presenters will share experience from using mobile market applications for contactless payment at farmers markets. Industry specialists will share insight about setting up mobile marketplace applications.

Session 2: Marketing & Distribution: Working with a Retailer/DistributorIf you are currently conducting direct sales (such as farmers’ markets) you may be interested in identifying consistent, year-round outlets for your products. So how do you get started working with a retailer? This workshop will provide a perspective from two retailers and one distributor. The panel will provide insight for a variety of considerations in terms of product packaging and labeling. What steps should you take to engage buyers? Learn how to best approach a retailer and wholesaler to ensure your prepared to make a good first impression, especially given constraints of social interaction during COVID. Also, the workshop will offer insight about when you should consider working with a distributor for your products rather than direct sales to retailers.

Session 3: Sales, Marketing & Customer Service for Processed ProductsCheryl Mitchell, Center Director for SBDC at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, will moderate a panel of Milwaukee based entrepreneurs in a discussion about sales, marketing, and customer service for processed food businesses.  Each of the entrepreneurs in the panel have built a food business from scratch, and in doing so have gained the loyalty of consumers. Panelists will discuss how to propel sales by getting to know what customers want, and building trusting relationships with customers. Panelists include Alan Goodman of A Goodman’s Desserts, Alesia Miller of Soul Brew, Dr. Kwadwo Owusu-Ofori of Satori Food Project, and Cindy Poiesz of EVOLVE Brands & Supernola.

Tuesday Flash and Consulting Sessions 

  1. How to Talk to a Retailer and Get your Product on the Shelf  (Josey Chu, Madame Chu Delicacies). Josey Chu, founder and owner of Madame Chu Delicacies, will discuss best practices for talking to a retailer – from the point of view of the entrepreneur. She’ll detail how she went about the process to get her handcrafted Southeast Asian delicacies (sauces and pastes) onto the shelves at multiple retail outlets in Madison. This session will cover making the initial contact, meeting with the buyer, preparing spec sheets, product pricing for retail, and doing in-store product demos. Madame Chu is a master at pitching her product and doing demos that hook a customer – learn from a pro during this flash session.
  2. Sourcing Local Ingredients for your Product (Anna Landmark, REAP): As a value-added specialty producer, you may be considering sourcing your ingredients from local farmers. But how do you find a farmer who can provide you with the quantity and quality that you need? What is the process for developing relationships, working agreements, or contracts with farmers? Anna Landmark, Farm to Business Director for REAP Food Group and Owner/Operator of Landmark Creamery, will provide guidance in how to negotiate purchases direct from farmers. She’ll also talk about the process, as well as pros and cons, of working with broadline distributors.
  3. Online and mobile Payment systems:  which one is right for you? (Jason Schliep, SBDC): Should you use online and mobile payment systems? Jason will cover the basics about online/mobile payment systems, what to look for when choosing a system, and the benefits vs. only accepting cash.
  4. Social Media Marketing – the Entrepreneurs take (Ryan Browne, Working Draft Beer Company). How do you get the word out about your product, food cart, restaurant or beer release? Entrepreneurs know that print media only reaches a small segment of the population, and that most customers are now using social media to large degree. Let your customers know about you by having a dynamic, personal, and timely presence on social media. Learn how to identify the social media channels that will work for you, and how to engage your customers in fun ways, while highlighting your products.

One on one Consulting: This is your chance to share your business idea or business story with resource support people or veteran food entrepreneurs. Sign up for a session with an individual best suited to answer your particular questions. Consultants listed HERE. You can sign up for a one-on-one session after you’ve registered via Eventbrite. We will send all registered participants a link to the sign-up form.

Tuesday Afternoon Closing: Innovation in Local Food Entrepreneurship

Throughout Wisconsin, food businesses are innovating, experimenting, and reinventing. Hear from Extension Educators from various parts of the State as to what they are seeing in their regions. What are exciting new directions that entrepreneurs are taking? What can we expect to see in the food business ecosystem as we continue to navigate the challenges of Covid-19 and emerge (sometime) into a new reality?