Tech gurus teach food entrepreneurs the recipe for success.
Last year, Munirah Small quit her job as a customer service representative and started the cake business. She had a lot of repeat customers, but after calculating her expenses, she found that she didn’t have much money left – of course not enough to pay her normal salary. So she applied for “quick start” and “start” to make sure she could do better.
Brenda salinas is NPR.
SAN Antonio is one of the country’s emerging technology hubs. This is also a rich food scene. Now, city officials are trying to link the two communities through a program called “quick start” and “start”.
The plan pairs emerging food entrepreneurs with technical mentors who teach their business. These tech mentors don’t have a culinary background, but they know how to start a business. The idea behind Break Fast and Launch is to inject some energetic startup energy into SAN Antonio’s food scene. It is one of several “culinary incubators” that have sprung up across the country.
“Quick start” and “start” started last year with city and federal funding. Last spring, 30 entrepreneurs took part in the competition. Munirah Small is part of the fall queue that began in September. Last year, the 44-year-old mother resigned as an AT&T customer service representative and set up a cake company called Sweet Themes.
“The best way to describe my cake would be a delicious food focus,” Small said.
She says she found a lot of business through church and community groups. Baking is now her full-time job and she has a lot of repeat customers. But after considering her expenses, the rest of the money wasn’t much – not enough to pay her regular salary, she told me. So Small applies to Break Fast and Launch to figure out what she can do better.
The eight-member team meets once a week in the designated department of the public library to discuss business strategies with different mentors. When I first met the team in October, they were talking to Mike Girdley, founder of the popular programming boot camp called Codeup.
Girdley has no experience in the food industry. In fact, he never tasted anything that had been whipped by an entrepreneur before. Today they are talking about a common business mistake: pricing too low.
“Girdley told them,” you’re going to price it at a low price because you see it in the price of the technician. You don’t have to look at it from the customer’s point of view, right? “He says these entrepreneurs need to ask themselves,” what is your value to the customer? ”
Small sizes, ingredients and designs sell cakes at between $35 and $175. That makes her the same price as the grocery store – not her gastronomical rival. Girdley says that if Small takes up the value of her time, she actually loses money on every cake. He told her you need to charge it three times.
Munirah Small’s cake sample. “The best way to describe my cake would be a delicious food center,” she said.
Provided by Munirah Small.
Another lesson that food entrepreneurs can learn from technology is how to market their products through a story – the way apple has long pushed its products to creative types, Girdley says.
“People don’t necessarily buy your product, they’re buying your story — how you can make the world a better place, or how you can change people’s lives,” Girdley says.
The baby may be a baker, but Girdley says she doesn’t actually sell cakes: she’s selling a full experience. “They’re not buying cakes from you, they’re interacting with you,” Girdley says.
Two hours after the fast break and launch, Small went out with optimism and Kanye’s confidence. “I am the best cake service in the city!” she declared.
Three weeks later, I visited Small in her Small apartment kitchen to see if she had implemented the change her mentor had suggested.
As Small mixes buttercream frosting, the sugar cloud rises from her upright mixer, making her entire apartment smell sweet. Her small oven has been working 24 hours a day. And there was so much cake in the refrigerator that she didn’t have her own food space. This is a real sign of a company’s harvest.
Since the last time we met, a lot of small changes have almost tripled, and she started selling herself as a custom-made gourmet cake designer. She has been targeting the wedding market and the quincea – era market – a time tradition favored by many hispanics who can celebrate these weddings when a girl turns 15. These things can be as luxurious as a wedding, Small has been showing, persuading women that her culinary creations will impress the guests.
She also used social media to promote herself and hold cake tastings for potential clients. Earlier this month, she published a feature story in a local newspaper.
Small said that when she raised the price, something surprising happened. Smalls said: “when I recharge, people are more interested than before. “This is crazy!
Initially, Small worried about how her repeat customers would respond to her price increases. She explained to them that since she was a mature enterprise, she needed to charge more. It turned out that most of her repeat customers could accept the new price, she said. Overall, her client’s demographic shift: her current wedding, the big cake quincea n era, big business.
Of course, not every customer will join in at a higher price. “I have some of them down, and they’re like ‘you’re too expensive,'” Small says. “It doesn’t matter, because when I’m in the mall, I can’t be in every shop shopping – now it’s not, it’s definitely not, and there’s no harm, no foul.”
Small is to bake nine cakes in the next 48 hours. The smallest – a double chocolate cake, fed to eight people, took her two hours to do – for $35. Now she sells $85.
“I’ve stopped taking this easy approach,” Small says of her business strategy. She said she was glad she contacted the technical community for help.
“The analysis strategy is universal, and you just need to have a system — whether it’s a computer, a cake, a cookie — you still need to have a system to work on it,” Small said.
And, yes, she’s paying for herself now – and making 35 percent of the profits, she says.
She still gets guidance from Break Fast and Launch – until now, her focus has been on how to deal with her newfound profits. Her next goal is to get out of her small kitchen, into a commercial kitchen space, and hire five people to work full-time for her company