In this episode of Gooder I had the privilege of interviewing Natalie Shmulik, CEO of The Hatchery, a food incubator just outside downtown Chicago. The Hatchery is a powerful initiative that brings a community of innovators along the entrepreneurial path and launches the dreams of owning and running a business to communities that have not traditionally had this access. We learn about the resources The Hatchery provides and how we as a community can provide our expertise, in big and small ways. And why Natalie believes in the power of community.
“Whenever speaking with an entrepreneur, you should always make sure that if you are going to provide feedback or input or a suggestion, that you coach them to believe that the idea was their own.”
In this episode we learn:
* The genesis of The Hatchery and why it is fast becoming a beloved innovation partner to the food and beverage industry.
* The common challenges of budding and small entrepreneurial food and beverage brands.
* Why exciting innovation comes from under-represented entrepreneurial brands.
* About the symbiotic co-learning traditional CPG’s and entrepreneurial brands share in their journey with The Hatchery.
* How coach-ability is a make-or-break trait for leaders and how to vet for coach-ability in your recruiting process.
* How to become a Hatchery brand or partner.
* About Natalie’s trend forecasting super-powers and how it supports The Hatchery’s entrepreneurs.
About Natalie Shmulik:
Natalie Shmulik is The Hatchery’s CEO, and go-to resource for everything food business related. Along with an M.L.A. in Gastronomy from Boston University, she has a wide range of experience working with supermarkets, culinary publications, consumer packaged goods companies, and food service establishments. After successfully operating her own restaurant, Natalie was hired as a specialty consultant for one of Ontario’s largest supermarket chains where she enhanced consumer experiences through educational initiatives. Discovering her passion for innovation, Natalie was brought on as a brand strategist for the first cold brew tea company and later moved to Chicago to run The Hatchery Chicago.
With over six years of food incubation experience, Natalie has gained a unique perspective on the industry and what it takes to launch and grow a successful business. Natalie is a regular contributor to Food Business News, was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune’s 10 Business People to Watch in 2020 and received the Specialty Food Association’s award for leadership in vision. She continues to play a valuable role in branding and marketing for food businesses around the country, with her specialty in trend forecasting.
The Hatchery: A non-profit food and beverage incubator dedicated to helping local entrepreneurs build & grow successful businesses.
ICNC: Industria Council of Nearwest Chicago offers entrepreneurs an innovative community to grow small businesses through incubation, workforce development, neighborhood planning, and business advising.
ACCION: A nonprofit microlender providing small businesses with loans at an early stage, particularly to support those that aren’t bankable yet.
Episode Sponsor – Retail Voodoo:
A branding firm building, growing and evolving brands in the food, beverage, wellness, and fitness industry. If your brand is in need of positioning, package design, or marketing activation, we’re here to help. You can find more information at www.retail-voodoo.com
2:46 Natalie talks about the origin of The Hatchery, what it’s about and why it exist
4:37 Natalie talks about some of the major challenges that budding, small entrepreneurs face
7:00 Natalie talks about what made her join The Hatchery and taking care of yourself as an entrepreneur to have good relationships with other entrepreneurs
9:11 Natalie talks about diversity and giving opportunity to people and communities that typically don’t have access to resources
12:39 Natalie gives reasons why it’s important for consumers to know the origin story of where a lot of the products they consume come from
13:25 Natalie talks about what it takes to develop a safe and successful food and beverage company to produce nutritionally dense products that meets the consumer needs
14:53 Natalie talks about the program they’ve developed that allows entrepreneurs to connect with one another and to get the information they need
15:45 Natalie talks about incubators and accelerators, what they are and what they do to help small businesses
17:05 Natalie talks about the importance of helping small business operators to grow their businesses
19:45 Natalie talks about the importance of bringing the young startup brands and the old and steady brands together
21:01 Natalie talks about how brands coming from The Hatchery have a distinctive or unique POV
22:49 Natalie talks about the importance of being coachable as a brand and always being open to feedback and suggestions
25:02 Natalie talks about vetting your clients and the impact that has on your business
27:30 Natalie talks about their success story in terms of brands they have helped become a success
29:46 Natalie talks about the type of partners The Hatchery is looking for and the importance of having partners
31:27 Natalie talks about the culinary impact program The Hatchery partnered with Rick Bayless
34:29 Natalie talks about trend forecasting through researching a lot and why it’s an important trait that entrepreneurs should have
38:03 Natalie talks about transitioning from traditional brick and mortar business to a virtual business and the benefits that comes with being virtual
“The more we come to the table together, the more change we’ll be able to create.”
“There’s so much that big brands can learn from startups and there’s so much that the startups
can learn from big brands.”
“It’s important to always adopt lean startup methodologies and just get to market as quickly
“Whenever speaking with an entrepreneur, you should always make sure that if you are going
to provide feedback or input or suggestion, that you coach them to believe that the idea was
“It’s important to have a drastically innovative brand and a brand that has values consumers
can connect with.”
“We are not experts in everything.”
“Be okay with not being okay.”
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