Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Food Entrepreneurs Get Lessons from First Course

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Food Entrepreneurs Get Lessons from First Course

Article excerpt

Four Pittsburgh organizations have teamed up to create a new online learning tool for rising food entrepreneurs. What's more, Allegheny County residents can use it for free.

Aspiring restaurateurs, food truck owners, food product makers and other food entrepreneurs can learn all about how to develop, promote, finance and raise funds for their businesses by taking First Course.

Eric Sloss is principal partner at economic development agency Shift Collaborative, one of the four groups behind First Course. He says there's been a "proliferation of food startups because of the culinary renaissance that's happening in our city." His organization wanted to find ways to help those folks get assistance in "a more accessible way" than a workshop or classroom course.

La Dorita, a community kitchen and food business in Sharpsburg, has provided on-site workshops and a written manual for food entrepreneurs. The other two collaborators are New Run Rising, a business incubation and acceleration nonprofit, and Smallman Galley, a Strip District restaurant incubator. Heinz Endowments provided grant funding.

The online class is structured as eight modules. Users read text, watch short videos and answer questions at the end to make sure they absorb what they hear. They can also develop a business plan and get it reviewed by experts.

"One of the biggest things we find with people who are trying to start new businesses is the fear of the blank page," said Scott Wolovich, executive director of New Sun Rising. "First Course breaks down the task of developing a business plan into smaller increments."

The modules cover topics such as fundraising, branding, finances, business planning and more. One module provides specific information that will be helpful to locals, including food product laws for Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Health Department and the commonwealth. …

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