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Focus @ reSET on Wednesday May 1 Showcased the Emerging Food Entrepreneurs in a Focus Group Setting

HARTFORD, CT – (Tuesday, May 7, 2024) – After two months of intensive entrepreneurial development, reSET is thrilled to announce the successful conclusion of its sixth edition of the Food Incubator program. The culminating event, entitled Focus @reSET was held at the Lyceum in Hartford on May 1 and provided a novel platform for twelve emerging food businesses to showcase their innovative concepts and receive valuable input from the community in a focus group setting.

Guests in attendance were invited to offer anonymous feedback to the entrepreneurs about their products, services, and marketing materials. Focus @ reSET provided a glimpse into the vibrant future of Hartford’s culinary scene while amplifying the talent and innovation fostered by reSET’s Food Incubator program.

During the 8-weeks of the Food Incubator program, participants engaged in a comprehensive curriculum covering essential aspects of business development, including customer discovery, market development, pricing strategies, business plan structuring, sales and marketing channels, and food-specific licensing and certification.

“We are thrilled with the progress and dedication demonstrated by the entrepreneurs in this year’s Food Incubator cohort,” remarked Sarah Bodley, reSET’s Executive Director. “They are not only passionate about their food businesses but are also committed to making a positive impact. Through our program, reSET aims to equip them with the tools and resources necessary to transform their visions into sustainable ventures.”

Under the guidance of Katrice Claudio, reSET’s Food Program Manager, and with support from members of the Hartford Culinary Collaborative, the cohort worked on a diverse range of food ventures, including food trucks, spice and seasoning companies, event catering services, artisanal bakeries, coffee and tea services, mobile cafes, and bartender-led platforms.

“The expression of creativity within this cohort is remarkable,” noted Katrice Claudio. “Each entrepreneur brings a unique perspective and culinary voice to the table, enriching our local food and hospitality industry. We are excited to witness the economic and social contributions they will add to the fabric of our community.”

The Food Incubator is one of the programs made possible via a $2.225 million, 5-year grant awarded in 2022 as part of reSET’s participation in the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development Grants Program to Support Small Businesses. reSET’s participation in this program has enabled the organization to provide vital resources and microgrants to aspiring entrepreneurs, empowering them to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Since reSET launched the Food Incubator program in 2019, over 80 food businesses have graduated, including this cohort, and are part of over 280 alumni companies across all of reSET’s incubator and accelerator programs.

This year’s Food Incubator Cohort entrepreneurs and their businesses are:

  • Ebonie Grant, Amy’s Sweet Spot – provides “treats with a creative spin,” a variety of delicious and creative treats made from scratch with quality ingredients to help create conversation.
  • Phyllicia Pringle, Exquisite Flavors – creates signature spices and seasonings which, combined with their private chef offerings, elevates meals to an unforgettable experience.
  • Karen Amaker, Good for the Soul Food – a mash-up of soul food and Jamaican cuisine using high-quality ingredients, and creating flavorful food with convenience and choice.
  • Evelyn Ruiz, Hasta Luego Friend – a mobile coffee service providing a convenient and enjoyable café experience, one cup at a time. Serving CT, NY, and MA communities.
  • Monique Sharp, Kama Cafe – an enriching blend of whole plant-based catering and cooking classes, bringing health and culinary education to the Hartford community.
  • Tanya Owen, Ladybug’s Breadstuff – bringing the magic of restaurant-quality bread straight to your table with wholesome, natural ingredients, offering a unique selection not found in stores.
  • Mark and Marissa Belgrave, Los Barbados – a vibrant pop-up restaurant specializing in authentic Bajan grilled goods and desserts.
  • Alwyn Clarke, Momentum Spice – a full-service catering company and spice business. They specialize in infusing traditional Jamaican recipes with a modern flair.
  • Sara Sutton & Maria Bergan, PachaMama’s Empanadas – bringing the taste of Peru to local businesses with a unique B2B concept, supplying homemade empanadas to a variety of businesses.
  • Sasha Allen Walton, Sasha’s Whole Earth – a holistic approach to heal the mind, body and spirit with a wide range of herbal tea blends.
  • Samantha Dale, Spyc Babe Catering – brings the flavor & spice to every event! From catering to date night, expect to be amazed by delicious Jamaican & Soul food cuisine.
  • Khalid Williams, The Barrel Age – a bartender-led, beverage culture focused platform for education about the beverage industry, drinking culture, cocktails, spirits, beer, wine and mocktails.