Martin Butts was burned out after seven years working long hours in the cramped and bustling aisles of the Syracuse Cooperative Market.
He was passionate about working with small scale and local food producers, but unsure about how to continue that work when he left. A chance encounter with a vendor from his time at the co-op in 2009 flipped a light switch and in a matter of days, Small Potatoes went live.
The next five years saw him wear out two set of tires pitching artisan food products like Better Brittle and Recess Coffee in every independent grocery store between Buffalo, NY, Northampton, MA, Scranton, PA , and Burlington, VT. Along the way he got a crash course in manufacturing and production, distribution, branding, communications, marketing, patience, event planning, and hustle.
After a move to a beach-side community just north of Daytona Beach, FL (that had little appetite for local food) he pivoted to what had been the smallest piece of his business, workshops and speaking engagements. His first workshop about starting a food business elicited an invite to give two more at the New York Small Business Development Center state conference. That turned into two workshops at the SBDC’s national conference.
In the years since, Martin Butts has engaged and inspired thousands of business owners and business development counselors through keynote presentations and workshops in 15 states. Every new community in turn offering fresh flavors and insights into the ever changing local food landscape.
To celebrate Small Potatoes’ 10th year, Butts will be partnering with the Onondaga Small Business Development Center to present a workshop and event series about starting and growing a food business. The SBDC is a resource for new business startups, succession planning, and business expansion. SBDC provides one-on-one business counseling, budget development, and workshops that help entrepreneurs – and food businesses – plan for growth in a smart and sustainable way.
The six-session series pairs a workshop by Butts with a panel discussion, site visit, or hands on exercise highlighting the successes and journeys of other foodpreneurs and food professionals to provide a diverse look across the food system.
The series will provide a nose to tail look at running a food business and answer hard questions about starting, running, and succeeding in the food industry. Starting at home production and running through taking your product to a regional scale, programs will look at pricing, distribution, selling wholesale and direct to consumers, brand building, and much much more. If you have an idea that your friends and family are encouraging you to explore or are an established food businesses or farm looking to build a brand, this series will offer practical and actionable guidance that you can put to work immediately.
The series starts in January and runs until June, one program per month. Each session will start on Tuesday with a workshop, and the paired event on that Thursday. Each $75 ticket is good for entry to both events. Full series tickets are also available at a discounted price and come with Small Potatoes goodies.
Are you turning an idea into a business? Is your business ready to take the next step? This interactive, high energy, real, and insightful series is a practical guide to do it right.
The first program, The ABC’s Of Starting a Food Business is January 15th & 17th at the South Side Innovation Center, 2610 S Salina St, Syracuse, NY 13205. Subsequent programs will include Messaging a Food Brand, Running a Great Farmers Market Booth, Selling Direct to Consumers, Selling Wholesale, and Defining Your Market from Local to Regional and will be held at locations around Syracuse.
To register or find more information, including full programs descriptions, full schedule, locations, and ticketing information, visit www.SmallPotatoes42.com.