By Janneke Lang
From Fledgling to Growth
In September 2015, Stacey Smith and Valeria Miranda of Food for Change, attended their first Inspiring Enterprise accelerator class not really knowing what to expect. Over the course of the following 12 weeks, they met some of Santa Cruz’s finest mentors, learned specific topics from seasoned professionals, such as branding, messaging, and financial projections, and worked with Iversen Design and Metastyle Films to make their fledgling idea into reality.
The Santa Cruz food project, Food for Change, was actualized during The Inspiring Enterprise’s pilot accelerator program. “Being in the TIE Accelerator Project helped (forced!) us to speak to potential customers, test out our product, and to hone our message, business plan and pitch. Ending up with a professional video and website was extremely helpful as well” says Smith co-founder of Food for Change.
Food for Change supports a healthy and safe Santa Cruz by serving delicious meals and by providing a training and transitional employment program for women and men re-entering our community after incarceration. The TIE Accelerator Program was integral in launching Food for Change. Smith says, “There is absolutely no doubt that Food for Change would be moving forward as it is today WITHOUT having been in the Accelerator Project”.
So how are they doing?
The goal: Purchase a food truck by Summer 2016.
In just 4 months since the TIE Accelerator Program, Food for Change has raised over $33,000 including a contract from the Santa Cruz Probation Department to cover trainee stipends for one year. Additionally, they’ve partnered with Live Earth Farm, Feel Good Foods commercial kitchen, and the Food Lounge for fundraising events. They’ve served 235 meals at 6 Popups in Santa Cruz and have helped support two formerly incarcerated women, one of whom is now starting her own food business and is a finalist in the Startup Challenge in Monterey.
Where you can catch them next:
Friday, April 29th, 5:30 – 8:00pm: Midtown Café on Soquel Ave.
Thursday, May 19th, 6:00pm: Crowdfunding Campaign Kick-off Event – Food Lounge