Sari Kimbell – StartUp FoCo Podcast

A creative community is composed of ALL KINDS of awesome entrepreneurs – and Techstars Startup Week Fort Collins brings together the best of the best. Today’s blog post/podcast features Sari Kimbell, Food Business Expert.

You can check out Sari’s panels below:

Hi Sari, introduce yourself!

Hi, I’m Sari Kimbell and I am the founder of Sari Kimbell Food Business Consulting and also an online course program called Food Business Success.

What do you do in the creative community?

I’m really interested in is helping small to medium-sized food businesses, especially in the artisan world. These are businesses where we talk about using local ingredients or craft made food. They are using simple ingredients or reimagining food like other ketchup or salsas or breads or jam. It might not always be seen exactly as in the creative world, but I think that there is a lot of creativity that these food artisans are bringing to their product and to our economy.

Do you get a lot of pushback that food isn’t part of the creative community?

I don’t know that it actually get push back, but it probably takes a little more explanation or asking people to stretch a little bit when we talk about culinary arts. When we talk about chefs creating, it is very much a form of creativity and reinvention and using ingredients in new ways much like people repurposing arts and reinventing certain styles. There’s a great connection there and I want to support people in their endeavors of this creativity. A lot of it is very similar to, as you’ll see with our line-up for start-up week, how people conduct creative businesses and artisan craft food businesses.

What are you seeing as the biggest challenges in the Northern Colorado food community?

Probably a lack of commercial kitchen space. There are some opportunities to do home-based businesses, depending on your product, but many products do require that the food is made in a commercial kitchen and we’ve had one close or it was purchased and so it’s no longer a kitchen. So, we’re definitely seeing a squeeze on that and it can be a challenge, especially when people want to do interesting things like gluten-free or meat products that need some additional oversight, so that’s probably the biggest challenge. Also scaling up, so when they’re ready to go a little bit bigger time, they’re going need to go down to some bigger spaces in Longmont or Boulder or Denver. We just don’t have those facilities here. But it is a very welcoming environment overall, as long as people can find that kitchen space to make their product.

Who’s doing the coolest things in Northern Colorado? Who are you most excited about?

Some of my favorites right now are Colorado Catsup, which we’re actually doing a big rebrand for them. They’re changing their name to the Hive Condiment Co. They make honey-sweetened ketchup, mustard and relish. J. Brady Seasonings, he just launched about a year and a half ago and has a great line-up of seasonings. Fort Collins Pickle Company has been doing a great job. This year at the Winter Farmers Market, I help run the winter farmers market in Opera Galleria and we’re seeing some brand new companies, like a new granola company come out. There’s Merang-o-tang and she makes meringues and different kinds of cookies but in fun shapes like unicorns and seasonal shapes. Also,, Rachel has come on the scene and just been really doing a fantastic job with that product. So, we’ve had lots of new vendors and the winter market is such a great outlet for these people to come and try it out and get instant feedback selling directly to the public.

What’s got you most excited about Fort Collins Start-up Week and Artup Week in particular?

I’m really excited about the focus that we’re placing on e-commerce. It’s something that we haven’t necessarily talked too much about especially when we talk smaller craft industry and obviously, e-commerce, there’s a lot of buzz. It can be a great outlet, but I think a lot of people just think, “Oh, if I just put it online, it will sell, right?” And that is not the case. I’m really excited about our panel and presentation discussion as part of creative business and choosing the right e-commerce platform and then how you make it successful.

If you could tell a Northern Colorado product based business that was just getting started one thing, what would it be?

My FoCo Startup Week session is called Eight Mistakes That Craft Businesses Make and How to Avoid Them. If I just had to choose one, I would say that pricing your product correctly from the start is probably one of the biggest overlooked things that business owners don’t do very well and it can get them into trouble later on. It’s hard to raise prices, they don’t factor in their labor. So they put all of this work into it and then at the end of the year, when they do all their expenses, they realize, “Oh, I didn’t make any money.” Or “I lost money.” So that would be one of my biggest recommendations. It’s really thinking through that pricing.

Where can we find more about you and your work? and to learn about my online program. You can find me on Instagram and Facebook too!

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