We all know that starting a business can be a rough-and-tumble experience, but getting into the food industry can be one of the most challenging of them all. Food entrepreneurs who want to stake a claim in the industry have to traverse through the almost impossible journey of obtaining capital investment, a network, and a proper education on what it takes to maintain a commercial kitchen. Without a significant amount of help, some entrepreneurs get thrown into the wind and lose their path to success.
This is where a food incubator comes in handy. A food or kitchen incubator solves the problem of training and initial capital. These incubators are designed to take in entrepreneurs and provide them with the skills and space it takes to operate their business independently.
Instead of working out of your own kitchen to bake those delectable game changing cupcakes, you can apply to an incubator and will be provided with training and a working space that accommodates commercial kitchen equipment and hosts a community of other entrepreneurs who also have that infectious entrepreneurial spirit.
Incubators usually charge a rental fee or snag a small equity of the startup business in return for training and a commercial kitchen. Some incubators act as accelerators, which makes initial capital investments in a company usually for a share of equity and can be crucial step forward in realizing a successful startup. Here are some food incubators around the country:
HBK Incubates is a shared commercial kitchen space based out of NYC that focuses on helping entrepreneurs start out and reduce the risk that accompanies startup ventures. HBK provides marketing support, equipment, storage, and business planning to entrepreneurs in need.
This accelerator is based out of NYC and partners with startup businesses in order for them to rapidly grow and maintain success. Food-X provides startups with up to $50,000 in capital, mentors in the industry, a community network, a coworking space, and so much more.
This 4800-square-foot culinary incubator based out of Portland focuses on giving logistical support to budding culinary entrepreneurs through commercial kitchen space, private event space, website development, and support and referrals to a number of services that handle legal, insurance, banking, and marketing needs.
This accelerator focuses on helping student entrepreneurs in their aims to solve food supply issues around the world. By providing training, mentorship, and investment capital, Fund the Food seeks to accelerate students who are innovating sustainable technology solutions.
This accelerator, based out of Portland, provides a six-week course to food producers in order for them to learn how to rapidly scale their business, build a network of distributors, and develop a successful business strategy. Participants in the course will have developed a growth plan, a brand positioning statement, and a 30-second promotional video for their product.
The New Orleans Food & Farm Network has partnered with the St. Charles Parish and built an incubator for entrepreneurs who want to launch food startup businesses. The incubator provides a professional kitchen space and helps with distribution in the hopes of bringing the food economy back to the New Orleans area.
This incubator and accelerator, based out of NYC, provides equity-free working capital and a six-month program to provide food entrepreneurs who are pursuing healthy and affordable foods with networking opportunities, working spaces, and community and mentoring opportunities.
This is a business incubator that includes a specialty food division based out of Florence, Alabama, that helps entrepreneurs with the problems of kitchen space and equipment. The incubator also gives opportunities for marketing events, cooking classes, and online e-commerce.
This accelerator, based out of Chicago, helps farm and food businesses launch and scale through a six month program. The Good Food Business Accelerator does not take equity in the business and instead requires an annual fee. They are the first business accelerator that focuses on building supply chains for sustainable local food.
This accelerator, based out of St. Louis, specifically focuses on building and supporting agricultural technology companies. The Yield Lab provides early stage provides $100,000 in funding along with mentoring and networking opportunities.
Photo: Flickr / Michael Stern