Case study: Michigan Good Fund / Fair Food Network

 
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Brand Story Accelerator

A six-week intensive for Detroit Area good food entrepreneurs that was powered by both The Michigan Good Food Fund and Bank of America

Market: Food-based businesses

Michigan Good Food Fund

Since its June 2013 launch, the Michigan Good Food Fund has invested more than $11 million in good food enterprises, supported 47 businesses with financing and business assistance, conducted 8 intensive workshops and webinars through programs like the “Bodega Boot Camp”, and created/retained 390 jobs across the state food value chain. MGFF is on the lookout for Michigan-based food businesses that, with their support, can make a positive change in underserved communities.

The Problem

There are many, small food-based businesses in the State of Michigan. Within that group, there are several that could potentially be considered fundable with some additional support and training. Why all of the participating food businesses know, emphatically, what they do, very few could not articulate exactly what made them stand out in saturated markets.


Entre-SLAM, a business Storytelling marketing Agency, Delivers a Turn-Key Experience

PURPOSE: groom food entrepreneurs to be fundable
Mission: bring more good food options to detroit communities

Our role was to create an experience that would accomplish three major priorities:

  1. Assess the market opportunity and the entrepreneur’s local position in it

  2. Challenge assumptions on their brands by having them look beyond the product itself

  3. Groom each founder comfortable ‘behind the scenes’ to stand out and lead

Years In Business

The Brand Story Accelerator attracted both cottage level and brick and mortar businesses.

Once the teams were selected, Entre-SLAM worked directly with each to help them complete three critical phases:

  • Complete an intensive product discovery intensive

  • Complete customer discovery exercises

  • Establish a clear pathway for messaging that goes beyond the ingredients of their products.

Starting with the founders, Christa worked to help them hone in on articulating a clear and compelling purpose and mission for their brands. This process also included completing a customer discovery course that challenged the founders to know not just demographics but be crystal clear on both the psychographics and behavioral motivations of their ideal customer. Then using design thinking methodologies, each team was challenged to break their proposed concepts. Through prototyping and beta testing, all of the groups experienced reactions to their ideas in real time during pop-up events.

Different from a pitch presentation, all teams were groomed to take all of that they had discovered and distill everything down to a 5-minute story.


Big Results and Big Plans for the Future

As a result of the successful launch of the Brand Story Accelerator, investors in the audience selected several of the candidates who piqued their interest. One candidate, even though her team was not one of the top winners, captured the attention of a local investor who was invited by Entre-SLAM to attend the expo. He was impressed enough with her business model and narrative to explore helping her expand her operations.

FEEDBACK FROM THE TEAMS

We are very appreciative of the opportunity to meet everyone and share our story with you all. This workshop has been extremely helpful to give us clarity and focus, leading to increased confidence and professionalism for our business. The network of local experts we've built up is phenomenal. Hopefullywe will see you all again soon. The Showcase night was wonderful and the nervousness really brought us all together. We will be following everyone on social media and continuing to learn from you.
Team: Humus Falafael

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As the week comes to an end, our team is finally taking a minute to reflect on the internal adventure we are about to embark on. The energy in the teams this week have given us a new community, that we are excited to be a part of and to learn from. Christa, both April and I have been pleasantly surprised by the style in which this course has been presented and the questions + stories which have been so carefully intertwined into the learning assignments. They beg us to ask the questions that we so often overlook in the day to day of running our lives (both business and personal). Going through this process will be an interesting balance of our own journeys along with those of our founders (our families). Buckling down for this roller coaster together :) #PopToIt baby. 
Team: Poplettes

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When I was accepted into the brand accelerator program with Christa Chambers-Price I knew that I would be learning about marketing tools for my small food business and that I would get to practice public speaking. I thought the course would be similar to other courses I have taken where I learn some tidbits about a topic, some that I could apply to my business and some I would  leave behind. I thought I would be simply given information and integrate the tools into my business when the time was right.   

What I didn't know was that I was about to embark on a greatly transformational 6-week deep dive into my core beliefs, my reason for being in business, and the purpose of my life. I know this sounds extreme, that because it was! Through readings, videos, activities and coaching conversations I was given the support needed to peer into what i'm really doing and why, rather than relying on a surface level easy-to-put-into-a-sound-bite version of what Im doing. Working with Christa gave me the courage to investigate what I care about the most and then communicate that clearly and succinctly on a stage in front of an audience. The process has had immense value to me. 

Getting to work with Christa is like having a stern fairy godmother who lovingly forces you to believe in your visions greatness. Christa's passion and commitment was with me the whole way through. I'm amazed at how much emotional strength and intelligence she has and is able to impart in a truly immersive learning experience platform. Christa's passion is contagious. She's like the cool aunt you wished you had.  I honestly feel that every small business would benefit from going through this course. I hope this course spreads wildly! The world is better off with Christa out there supporting people getting their best lives. Thank you Christa!
Team: Chene Street Grocer

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If your organization has a big idea and wants a platform to launch It, let’s talk About it!

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The Michigan Good Food Fund
Founded: 2013
Loc: Grand Rapids, MI

The Michigan Good Food Fund (MGFF) is a $30 million public-private partnership loan fund created to finance healthy food production, distribution, processing, and retail projects that benefit underserved communities throughout Michigan. 


Timeline for Implementation

Pre-launch activities:
1-Month
Launch/Promotion:
1-Month
Accelerator & Showcase Night Training
4-6 weeks


What Entre-SLAM Delivered for MGFF

A new product/asset that the AHA could leverage to build new inroads to innovation communities and attract new funding opportunities. Also, Entre-SLAM managed:

  • The Showcase Expo Design

  • Judging Criteria
    (in alignment with the MGFF mission)

  • Event Design and Production

  • Stage Design and Production

What Entre-SLAM Delivered to the UHA Candidates

A blended e-learning, individualized coaching, and mentoring curriculum that included:

  • Online Courses

  • Site visits to each team’s locations

  • Workbooks

  • Digital Journaling

  • One-on-One Coaching

  • Team Coaching

  • Customer Discovery

  • Product/Service Prototyping and Beta Testing

  • Brand Storytelling & Stage Preparation