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Key Takeaways from Food Vendors in the Mahoning Valley

On April 1st, nearly three dozen food entrepreneurs gathered at the Founders Exchange to discuss challenges and opportunities in launching products and entering local venues like farmers markets. Stacy McDivitt of McDivitt Family Maple, LLC and Don Ritenour of YoFresh were interviewed by Rick Stockburger, COO & VP at TBEIC. Stacy began a family maple business in her kitchen and has expanded to her own online store, storefront, and farmers markets. Don provides hundreds of prepared gluten and soy free meals weekly with distribution at local gyms and home delivery. Here are some tips from their experience:

1. Find local resources like YBI’s Women in Entrepreneurship Program and the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County’s Business & Investment Center for business planning and market research.

2. You can’t do it all, so choose what’s the best use of your time and team and outsource the rest, whether it’s keeping the books or cleaning your office.

3. Content marketing is a sales winner. Create recipes using your product to bring new subscribers to your media channels.

If you’re interested in starting a food business, check out Commonwealth’s Kitchen Incubator located in Youngstown. The incubator is part of the Lake to River network that sources and promotes local food through a cafe, coop, and farmers market.

The Founders Exchange provides a monthly platform for successful entrepreneurs to candidly share their experiences and insights with the community. The series highlights experiences, lessons learned, and unique issues and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the creation of a company. For upcoming Exchanges, please check out TBEIC’s event page.

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