Food Entrepreneurs Gather for Heritage Food Start-Up Lab

May 8, 2019
heritage food lab

On Friday, May 3rd, 19 food entrepreneurs gathered at Connect Coworking in Downtown Tucson to participate in the Heritage Food Start-Up Lab. This event was hosted by the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and Tucson-UNESCO City of Gastronomy as a part of the Agave Heritage Festival.

Participants began their day networking over breakfast from the Food Conspiracy Co-op. The morning sessions were spent discussing the importance of heritage and how it can add value to a food business.

The first three keynotes on heritage and its importance were from Giuseppe Biagini, ITKI-US, Jonathan Mabry, UNESCO, and Amy Juan, International Treaty Council.

The next speakers shared their personal success stories in incorporating heritage foods into their startups including the San Xavier Co-op, Cheri’s Desert Harvest and Chilttepica Salsa.

Following, Alissa Bilfield presented on how to develop a ‘triple bottom line’ story and had participants workshop their own triple bottom line story for their individual food businesses. The ‘triple bottom line’ focused on environment, health, and culture and how to incorporate those into the story the participants tell in their businesses.

A special lunch menu of heritage corn flatbreads and chicken sandwiches on barrio bread was provided by James Beard award winning chef, Janos Wilder of Downtown Kitchen & Cocktails.

The second half of the day was spent covering the practical steps to take to create and launch a food business, including a session on The Entrepreneurial Mindset + Lean Canvas presented by McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship’s Rick Yngve.

Participants also heard about how to navigate legal and health issues with food by hearing from Matt Mars from the Department of Agricultural Education and representatives from the Pima County Health Department.

After a short break, there was a panel featuring different start-up resources including Startup Tucson, SBDC, CIC, Local First Arizona, Community Foodbank of Southern Arizona and the YWCA.

The last speaker of the day was Don Guerra, founder of Barrio Bread, who shared his startup story and his journey to success in the food business in Arizona. Participants ended the day with an expo of startup resources over locally sourced beer and wine, courtesy of Arizona Wine Collective and Dillinger Brewery.

Thank you to everyone who participated and contributed to making this day a success!