Recently, I had the chance to meet with Matt Skov from La Cocina, a cooperative, commercial kitchen in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. La Cocina offers a business incubator program for food entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs, primarily women and immigrants from communities of color, can use the commercial kitchen at subsidized rates. In addition, they also receive help from volunteers and mentors. Volunteers provide technical assistance including tax preparation, recipe costing and branding. Mentors provide strategical insight with marketing and business planning.
Here’s how the program works. After applicants are accepted, they begin a six month pre-incubation period. During this time, participants receive assistance with every aspect of their business. If their concept is successful, participants then enter the incubation period of the program. This entails access to affordable kitchen space and further business development. This phase can last a few months or up to a year, depending on the amount of capital that must be raised in order to support the business concept. Upon securing funding, participants graduate and are prepared to launch their food businesses to the mass market.
La Cocina provides a wealth of resources to aspiring food entrepreneurs that face high barriers to entry and extremely high rates of failure. Currently, they have twenty businesses in their program. The kitchen also offers catering and group team building events centered around cooking. Check their calendar for upcoming events.