125 episodes

Edible-Alpha® is your source for actionable insights into making money in food. Hosted by the Food Finance Institute, we talk to a wide range of stakeholders about what it really takes to grow a successful food business. Learn more at www.edible-alpha.org

Edible-Alpha® Podcast Food Finance Institute

    • Business
    • 4.5 • 19 Ratings

Edible-Alpha® is your source for actionable insights into making money in food. Hosted by the Food Finance Institute, we talk to a wide range of stakeholders about what it really takes to grow a successful food business. Learn more at www.edible-alpha.org

    Helping Food and Farm Entrepreneurs Access R&D Funding

    Helping Food and Farm Entrepreneurs Access R&D Funding

    In Edible-Alpha® podcast #121, Brad talks with Idella Yamben, Ph.D., director of the Center for Technology Commercialization (CTC), which, like FFI, is part of the University of Wisconsin System’s Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship. CTC offers a variety of programs and resources to help early-stage technology businesses—including those in the food or agriculture space—develop and conduct research to inform commercialization strategies and access funding to support the work.  







    Idella insists that research and technology aren’t only about next-gen gadgets, machine learning, or university lab studies. CTC mainly works with inventors who have a novel approach to addressing a critical problem. For instance, maybe a farmer thinks of a way to boost crop yields, or a food entrepreneur wants to assess a new manufacturing process. CTC could help them determine how to test their hypotheses, business models, and market viability.







    “You might not think what you’re doing could use technology, be innovation, or require research,” Idella says. “But my team’s job is to see if those opportunities are there and help you go after federal funding.”







    One of CTC’s offerings is Ideadvance, which provides companies with seed money to test their business models through the Lean Startup framework. It helps them hone in on their target consumer, path to market, positioning, etc., to give the product, service, or solution the best chance of success.







    CTC also prepares entrepreneurs to apply for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, aka America’s Seed Fund. Through this highly competitive program, 11 government agencies, including USDA, offer grants for early-stage R&D.







    Through all of its programs, CTC helps startups test assumptions, which Idella says is basically the scientific method: “You make a hypothesis, develop an experiment, run it, then iterate.” But to ensure the best outcomes, she says it’s important to take a very disciplined approach to determine what that assumption and experiments should be. CTC helps entrepreneurs do that, often in partnership with industry-specific resources such as FFI.







    A key piece of the Lean Startup model is customer discovery, which involves both listening to potential customers and then running experiments to validate what an entrepreneur thinks they heard. Ideally, the results can provide answers around cost, revenue, or value proposition.







    Idella says those findings should then be balanced against the team’s goals and unique capabilities, which will help differentiate the business proposition. Through this process, entrepreneurs learn to synthesize information and become storytellers, both important skills for seeking any kind of financing.







    Also through this work, entrepreneurs typically meet a lot of people and learn a ton. By listening well, Idella says they could identify a new angle, a different problem, or an opportunity to pivot. And pivoting early could save a lot of headaches—and money—later on, potentially even preventing a failed business.







    Brad and Idella cover a whole lot more in this engaging podcast, including the many free tools, resources, and funding sources available to food and farm entrepreneurs.

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Financial Lessons from a Successful Diversified Farm

    Financial Lessons from a Successful Diversified Farm

    Andy chats with Cliff McConville of All Grass Farms about the diversified ag operation’s success, steady expansion, and financial savvy.

    • 1 hr 21 min
    Farmer Brothers Distill Grains into Profits

    Farmer Brothers Distill Grains into Profits

    Andy interviews Will Glazik of Cow Creek Organic Farm and Silver Tree Beer & Spirits to learn how he and his brothers are building upon their family farming legacy with a consumer brand and their own grain distillery.

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Sisters Succeed with Simple Syrup, Soda Shop, and Subscriptions

    Sisters Succeed with Simple Syrup, Soda Shop, and Subscriptions

    Belinda Kelly and Venise Cunningham of Simple Goodness Sisters stop by to discuss their innovative farm-based company, diversified business model, and plans for growth.

    • 1 hr 18 min
    Doctor Turns Dates into Healthier Sweetener

    Doctor Turns Dates into Healthier Sweetener

    Sylvie Charles, M.D., traded a stable career as a physician for the wild ride of entrepreneurship when launching organic real-food sweetener company Just Date in 2018. She shares the mission behind her endeavor, along with her business arc and growth strategy.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    SBDC Consultant Helps Food Businesses Go Global

    SBDC Consultant Helps Food Businesses Go Global

    Chris Wojtowicz from the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center unpacks the global expansion process for small food and farm businesses looking for new market opportunities.

    • 54 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
19 Ratings

19 Ratings

Charlene Andersen ,

Great for all types of food businesses

I've been an advice listener to Edible-Alpha for over 2 years and look forward to each podcast. The information Terra shares and her guests is insightful, valuable and I'm always learning. While based in Wisconsin and sometimes focused for that region you will always here information you can put in place or share with others.

JD Kath ,

Great listen!

Love the focus on the entrepreneurs who are changing the ecosystem!

Susan Weiner ,

Food Entrepreneur Must Listen

This is an excellent podcast for food entrepreneurs: part inspiration, part nuts and bolts, part strategy. I eagerly await every new episode because I know I'll learn something. Too often entrepreneurial podcasts are done by celebrity hosts that don't really know what questions to ask (think How I Built This) or former venture capitalists who say ridiculous things like "you have to have the very best people in every position" (think Masters of Scale). Tera's podcast is awesome because she's built an incredibly successful food business of her own, she's done a tremendous amount of food entrepreneur consulting, and she knows that most of us out here have a passion for our product, and we're just trying to figure it all out with the skillset and budget we have. She's trying to help us where the rubber meets the road to help us get traction in growing our business. Awesome!

Top Podcasts In Business

Money Stuff: The Podcast
Bloomberg
REAL AF with Andy Frisella
Andy Frisella #100to0
Money Rehab with Nicole Lapin
Money News Network
In Good Company with Nicolai Tangen
Norges Bank Investment Management
The Money Mondays
Dan Fleyshman
Habits and Hustle
Jen Cohen and Habit Nest