June was a full month of travel, both for personal and professional reasons. Reunions of friends and reunions of family (in Arizona and NC) provided a backdrop to reinvigorate relationships and reconnect with my reading list.
I also had an opportunity to attend the Food Business School’s Food Venture Lab. The course couldn’t have come at a better time for Nibble – I was finishing up the vacation I had planned for the year, and I had been contemplating the best channel to take Nibble down for the next few months. The office delivery I had used to validate my product wasn’t necessarily my long-term vision for Nibble, so I needed to wrap my head around next steps to help me achieve my vision.
Over the course of the week, my fellow ~12 students and I carefully worked our way from a going-in idea (in some cases, folks had actual businesses up and running; others just had a rough idea of what they wanted to do; some had no idea) to a playbook that clearly outlined mission, vision, values, unmet need, value proposition, financials, target customers, market opportunity, competitors, and next steps towards an incremental milestone. (Phew!) Most of the time the Lab felt thick with presentations (we heard from trademark lawyers, CEOs that have sold food businesses, investors, etc.), readings, and trying to both listen and apply new skills directly to our ideas. By day two I realized that I needed some decompression time at the end of each day (when in Napa, right?), but then I needed my own recalibration time to be able to keep up and make sure I was getting the most out of the learnings. So I developed a steady rhythm of learn – think – learn (repeat) during the day, and relax – apply – prepare in the evening time. The intensity of the course felt overwhelming at times, but I think I definitely was able to effectively learn and grow Nibble because of the setting. The beautiful Westin Verasa Napa, the amazing weather, coffee from Model Bakery, the delicious breakfasts and snacks and lunches prepared by the CIA, runs along the Napa River, dinners with my husband (who worked from Napa that week) at places like Oxbow Market, Celadon, Bounty Hunter, Hog Island Oyster Bar: it was an ideal learning environment for me.
So what did I learn? What did my playbook look like? How much progress did I make? Well, in the two weeks since I’ve been back I feel like I’ve had so much more clarity around channel pursuits, business administrative needs, and my next milestone(s). I feel more at ease with pursuing non-retail channels as a means towards opening a snack shop in the coming year, and I have more confidence on how best to structure my business to increase access to fresh fruits and veggies over the coming decade. That tells me I learned a whole lot! All of the details boil into one clear mission:
To make snacktime a healthy & convenient occasion in an inspiring space…
While increasing American access to & consumption of fresh produce.