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INTRO Banker Turned Food Entrepreneur

abinge05

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Hi everyone – I'm Andrew, 31 years old, graduated from b-school (MBA) in May, and am working on a snack food project. I came across this forum/community while researching for my project, and it’s been great. Big thank you to everyone who has shared their knowledge to help newbies like me. Loved both books too.

Some background:

Majored in finance in undergrad and worked in oil trading at an investment back. I liked the energy there, especially during busy days when I was moving fast, but left for a few reasons:

1 – Wanted more fulfilling work. My FTE was when I realized that I didn’t aspire to be any of the senior, wealthy employees that I worked with. I wanted to do something that helps people more directly.

2 – Wanted to develop a broader skillset. I didn’t feel well-positioned to adapt if some market disruption rendered my job obsolete or if I wanted to make a transition to another industry. I left to develop skills that will serve me better in the long-run.

3 – Escape corporate bureaucracy. Senior management blocked me from transferring to other groups on five different occasions (won't bore you with why). I clearly wasn’t in control of my destiny, which I was not okay with. To ensure that never happened again, I figured entrepreneurship was safer than being an employee.

I got my first real taste of entrepreneurship when I worked at a small (6 person) SaaS startup for my summer internship between years 1 and 2. I was hooked. I spent my second year taking entrepreneurship and VC courses, reading books, meeting like-minded people, and trying to come up with my own idea. In the spring, I thought of what I'm working on, did a feasibility study, made a last-minute pitch at my school’s flagship startup competition, and won, which gave me some decent validation (and a small grant).

I’m from NY, went to school in Nashville, and came back to NY after graduation to work on this full time. Moving back was an enormous mistake: it quickly became clear that I prefer living in a smaller city. I also found the entrepreneurial community much more tight-knit and supportive in Nashville; I’ve had trouble finding like-minded people where I am now. Consequently, I’ve felt very isolated, lonely, and depressed since moving back. So I decided to move back to Nashville (end of this week), and even though I’m not there yet, just knowing I'm so close has reawakened me. The energy is back, the synapses are firing, and I’m more excited and productive than I’ve been in a while.

Some key lessons learned so far:

1 – Environment is hugely important. Surround yourself with the right types of people and resources that you’ll need to succeed. A key resource for me is commercial kitchen space, which has been difficult to find here. Nashville, on the other hand, has an awesome, growing culinary incubator that not only provides kitchen space, but also has a great food entrepreneurship community. That will be a game-changer.

2 – Monitor your mental health and stay balanced. I declined a lot of social events because I felt like I should be working on my project all the time. That was a mistake. It just made me feel more isolated, which further sucked the energy away from me. Going forward, I’ll do what I need to do to be happy, even if that means taking a step back for a day or two.

So that’s my story. Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to getting more involved here.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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Awesome intro my brotha! Welcome aboard!
 

Everyman

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'Food entrepreneur' caught my eye.

Do you have a progress thread (I couldn't find...) or can tell a bit more about what you are up to and why commercial kitchen space is difficult to find in NY? (what do you mean by commercial kitchen - that can be rented out by hour etc...?)
 
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abinge05

abinge05

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No progress thread yet, may start one soon. I'm doing nighttime snacks, something that's healthier than what a lot of people eat at night. There's more to it, don't want to disclose that yet though.

By commercial kitchen, it's a kitchen with proper government approvals to manufacture food for sale.

Met a few local food entrepreneurs who told me that finding commercial kitchen space would be my biggest challenge. I think there are two options for commercial kitchen space:

1 - Rent at a dedicated culinary kitchen/incubator. These places have kitchens that are used primarily as rental kitchens, often for an hourly cost.
2 - Rent from a restaurant that's willing to let you use their kitchen during off hours (usually middle of the night).

It seems there's a supply/demand imbalance for option 1. I identified a space that I planned on using but learned that there's a multi-month wait list to get in there. There was also a huge culinary incubator that closed down in Brooklyn which ended up being a major blow to food entrepreneurs because tenants didn't know where else to go. The Brooklyn kitchen closed because the operator had issues with the landlord. With the high cost of real estate, perhaps the margins aren't great for that type of business, but that's just my guess.

Regarding option 2, I think it's all about connections, hustle, and luck. Some restaurant owners may be apprehensive to rent out their space for various reasons. I gave a half-assed effort trying to find space that way, but that wasn't too long ago and the wheels were in motion for my move, so I didn't put a ton of effort in.

If you're interested in this type of business, there's a really good thread here:

 

foodiepersecond

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No progress thread yet, may start one soon. I'm doing nighttime snacks, something that's healthier than what a lot of people eat at night. There's more to it, don't want to disclose that yet though.

By commercial kitchen, it's a kitchen with proper government approvals to manufacture food for sale.

Met a few local food entrepreneurs who told me that finding commercial kitchen space would be my biggest challenge. I think there are two options for commercial kitchen space:

1 - Rent at a dedicated culinary kitchen/incubator. These places have kitchens that are used primarily as rental kitchens, often for an hourly cost.
2 - Rent from a restaurant that's willing to let you use their kitchen during off hours (usually middle of the night).

It seems there's a supply/demand imbalance for option 1. I identified a space that I planned on using but learned that there's a multi-month wait list to get in there. There was also a huge culinary incubator that closed down in Brooklyn which ended up being a major blow to food entrepreneurs because tenants didn't know where else to go. The Brooklyn kitchen closed because the operator had issues with the landlord. With the high cost of real estate, perhaps the margins aren't great for that type of business, but that's just my guess.

Regarding option 2, I think it's all about connections, hustle, and luck. Some restaurant owners may be apprehensive to rent out their space for various reasons. I gave a half-assed effort trying to find space that way, but that wasn't too long ago and the wheels were in motion for my move, so I didn't put a ton of effort in.

If you're interested in this type of business, there's a really good thread here:

I've even seen churches offer their kitchen for these uses at a good rate. I am trying to get into the food biz as well so following. Any way you can kinda hint as to what it is you are making?
 
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abinge05

abinge05

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Read Millionaire Fastlane
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Mar 9, 2019
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I've even seen churches offer their kitchen for these uses at a good rate. I am trying to get into the food biz as well so following. Any way you can kinda hint as to what it is you are making?
Yes, I tried working something out with a church, they didn't seem very interested though.

It's like a chocolate-oat cluster with a little twist ;)
 

Azure

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There are a few sites that list available shared kitchen space, some of them aren't updated regularly so you may find some dead ends.







You could also try reaching out to a restaurant broker, they often have a large list of restaurants whose space is underutilized, and may be able to introduce you to a few who would be willing to rent their space.
 

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