The best of cooks can satisfy the most demanding of palates, but all that talent alone can’t help someone bring her food to the masses through a successful business.
reSET is a Hartford-based nonprofit that has already been helping such budding entrepreneurs through their programs, and hopes to help many more with the help of $2.2 million in funding from the state Department of Economic and Community Development’s grant program to support small businesses. The grant will be over a five-year period.
Through its Food and Retail Incubator programs reSET gives participants help with everything from access to those knowledgeable in those fields to specific help coming up with a business plan and developing an online presence.
“A lot of our entrepreneurs on the food side particularly – they’re great cooks but they don’t necessarily have a food background,” said Sarah Bodley, reSET’s executive director.
Bodley added that said the group’s focus has always been helping fledgling businesses with their financial bottom line but also supporting those trying to make a positive social impact.
Some businesses make food that is friendly for those with allergies or are chemical free. Others strive to highlight their cultures through their food.
The Food Incubator started in 2019, with 62 businesses having graduated. The Retail Incubator started in 2021, Bodley said.
“Small retail businesses have a lot of folks working within that program just trying to figure out how to access their market more efficiently and begin to think about growth,” Bodley said.
reSET also works to support Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) and women interested in founding, launching, and scaling food and retail businesses in the Greater Hartford area.
“We are based here in Hartford which is a predominantly minority community and we really want to make sure we are reaching out and providing these opportunities for folks that live and work in and love Hartford,” Bodley said. “That has always been a real focus.”
The grant funding will help with reSET’s food entrepreneurs through programs including a new “Digital Marketing Mastermind” training curriculum in 2023, Bodley said. There will also be a Food Accelerator and Incubator programs as well as networking events and workshops offered by the Hartford Culinary Collaborative. Over the course of the grant, reSET hopes to target over 425 entrepreneurs.
reSET will partner with Breakfast Lunch & Dinner for its retail program, “Floor–Plan Retail Activation Initiative,” which will include a 12-week Retail Incubator program. There will also be an e-commerce platform and pop-up market events. reSET hopes to target more than 450 entrepreneurs through over the five year grant.
Both the Food Business Support and the Entrepreneurial Retail Business Support programs will include grants to businesses who complete the program, totaling $170,000 over the course of the grant period, according to reSET.