In this new series, we highlight accelerators and incubators that are offering assistance to food startups across the country. This week we're featuring Hope & Main, a Rhode Island-based incubator. We talked with Member Services Coordinator Ric Wild.
What type of companies do you assist?
H&M: We help local entrepreneurs jump-start early-stage food companies and food related businesses by providing low-cost, low-risk access to shared-use commercial kitchens and other industry-specific technical resources. We also work with existing business that are looking to scale up production.
What’s your mission in doing this work?
H&M: Our goal is to help grow the local food economy by creating a community of support for food entrepreneurs where emerging culinary startups can test, create, scale and thrive. Ultimately, we want our region to grasp the positive nutritional and economic impact that locally produced food and beverage can make.
What attributes are you looking for in applicants?
H&M: Our incubator program looks for the entrepreneur who has a strong food product concept and is ready to kick start or expand an early-stage food business. In short, we’re looking for people with a great idea and an appetite for entrepreneurship interested in growing a successful food-related company.
What one piece of advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
H&M: Before “hatching” an idea for a new food business, do some preliminary market research. Observe market trends and try to figure out how your product or service can meet an emerging consumer demand. Also, talk to other entrepreneurs and try to figure out if starting a business from scratch is really for you.
What is your favorite project to come out of your accelerator?
H&M: Picking a favorite is like a parent choosing one child over another. The businesses that operate out of Hope & Main are unique and have varying goals and definitions of success. It’s exciting to see companies grow from just an idea to a thriving business. The Backyard Food Company has grown with the help of a distributor and now has products in 300+ stores throughout New England and beyond. We’re proud of their tremendous growth in a short amount of time, but there are many other success stories worth telling.