Triangle Food Makers is a gathering of Raleigh/Durham’s existing food entrepreneurs, those who are thinking about starting a food-related business, and all those who support a strong local food system in the Triangle. Triangle Food Makers hosts 3-4 gatherings a year to bring food startups together around common topics. We come together in person to share knowledge, to support each other’s projects, and most importantly, to strengthen our sense of cooperation and community.
March 2018 – Date TBA
*If you are a local food maker wanting to sample your product during our “Local Bites” hour, send us an email.
The Gift of Food Failure (September 2017)
We took a departure from our typical gatherings to tackle a taboo topic: FAILURE! We heard from four food entrepreneurs in the Triangle, Danielle White of Chocolatay Confections, Dani Black from Bigger Tables, Nate Adams of Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck, and Top Chef competitor and James Beard nominated Chef Keith Rhodes of The Catch in Wilmington. They talked about the biggest failures they faced while building their companies, how they navigated through the challenging times, and most importantly, how these “failures” have led to unexpected positive outcomes.
Cash from the Crowd (May 2017)
Our topic for May was raising money through crowdfunding, with a particular focus on the new NC PACES act, an exciting new change to the crowdfunding laws that went into effect on April 1. 2017. We heard from Benji Jones, a partner at Ward and Smith who has been involved in drafting the new rules about the new changes. We also heard about other forms of crowdfunding to consider for your business: Kickstarter from Sophia Woo of Pho Nomenal Dumpling Truck, mircrofunder Groundworkk from Matthew Konar, and the new Slow Money SOIL fund from Carol Peppe Hewitt.
Fit For a Food Hall (January 2017)
For food entrepreneurs, space for retail sales and food production is a big need in the Triangle, and “Food Halls” are becoming a popular solution. 130 food entrepreneurs came out for an update on four food halls coming to the area and the opportunities that might soon be available for for business owners as a result.
We heard from partners from three food halls who talked about what type of vendors might be a good fit for their spaces, the factors your should consider before you apply for a vendor spot, and their plans for any shared kitchen space and other incubator-like services. Our speakers included Niall Hanley of Morgan St. Food Hall, Kelly Taylor of Blue Dogwood Public Market, and Adair Mueller of Durham Food Hall.
Practice Makes Perfect Pitching (September 2016)
For most food entrepreneurs, getting up on stage to pitch to investors is among the most heart-pounding of experiences. The goal of this TFM gathering was to demystify the pitching process and to help entrepreneurs prepare for raising money for their business. We heard from a panel of investors and lending organizations including Self Help Credit Union, Slow Money NC, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, and SJF Ventures, each who have experience investing in food companies. They shared what they look for in food companies and the most important aspects to consider when putting your business pitch together. ExitEvent wrote all about it.
The main event featured practice pitches from four food businesses who received on-the-spot feedback from the investor panel and the audience on how they could improve their pitch. Read all about our pitch finalists Ello Raw, Belgian Waffle Crafters, The Heights Dominican Kitchen, and Spring Run Market.
Mind of a Buyer (May 2016)
More than 100 people went into the “Mind of a Buyer” to learn about getting their food products onto retail store shelves and into foodservice. We heard from Tova Boehm of Whole Foods Market, James Watts of Weaver Street Market, and Louis Edwards of Sysco. They covered everything from preparing for your initial buyer conversation, to common mistakes made by food entrepreneurs, and how to keep your product moving once it’s on the shelves.
In Search of a Kitchen (January 2016)
More than 100 people showed up at HQ Raleigh to discuss the recent changes in NC laws surrounding shared kitchens! You mingled your way through “Local Bites,” nibbled food from 12 local food companies, and enjoyed a few slices of pizza from Trophy. And that was before the main event. Here are some pictures taken throughout the evening. Andre Pierce of Wake County Environmental Services kicked off the evening with a review of shared kitchen laws, and Matthew Roybal, formerly of the Piedmont Food and Agricultural Processing Facility (PFAP) later shared some tips on finding the right commerial kitchen space for your food business.
Mind of a Food Maker (August 2015)
Nearly 50 aspiring and existing food makers came out for the inaugural Triangle Food Makers event at HQ Raleigh in early August. We went deep “into the minds” of four Raleigh food makers Slingshot Coffee, Nello’s Sauce, Raleigh Raw, and Nicklepoint Brewing Co. about what it takes to build a food business, what keeps them inspired on the most difficult of days, and advice they’d give the up-and-coming food producers. The group nibbled their way through “Local Bites” featuring samples from companies like Tribucha, Ello Raw, among others.