It's hard to get a small business off the ground, but a new program from Arizona State University can help.
Called Prepped, the 10-week program targets would-be food business owners — as in, folks looking to start a food truck, sell a product at local farmers markets, or launch a catering business — to provide mentorship, business education, and a chance earn some startup funding.
According to Ji Mi Choi, associate vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at ASU, the decision to create the program came as a result of a lack of resources for non-technology start-ups in Phoenix. Unlike other business incubation programs, Prepped will offer resources specific to food business entrepreneurs including guidance on how to obtain licenses, properly handle food safety, and manage social media and marketing.
“And if we’re able to discover the next big thing, even better," Choi says.
If selected, entrepreneurs will participate in the 10-week program for free. Starting in mid-October, entrepreneurs will meet for biweekly classes taught by various ASU faculty and food industry experts. These approximately 90-minute sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings and will cover topics including lean growth, food management, and financing. Speakers will include Professor Rick Hall from ASU's College of Nursing and Health Innovation and chef Kent Moody, who runs the college's instructional retail kitchen.
In between these sessions, program participants will also meet with food business coaches including Michael Reyes of Paz Taqueria and Cantina and Giovanni Pace, chef and owner of Scratch Catering.
Finally, at the end of the program, participants will have a chance to pitch their ideas for a chance to earn funding, as well as participate in a product showcase to get their products in front of potential customers.
Applications to participate in Prepped's first cohort are open now through Sunday, September 18, and are available online. According to Susan Halverson, manager of community entrepreneurship, applications will be reviewed by a panel of judges from ASU mentor network.
Ideal applicants will be beyond the early stage of business development and looking to start a mobile food business. The program will also target entrepreneurs working in low-income communities.
For more information, check the ASU Prepped website.