Designing the Business Model to Launch your Food-Based Business

Starting a small business is in fact, no small task. For new and budding entrepreneurs such as yourselves, the list seems to be endless - from registering your business, to setting up your website, to creating a sustainable business model, and everything in between - there seems to be so much to do. Just trying to make sense of it all can be a monumental task in itself! Designing the Business Model to Launch your Food-Based Business is a comprehensive workshop series focuses on the essentials of starting and the practical steps to launching your food-based business.

Looking for clarity on how to establish a profitable business? Are you feeling stuck trying to figure out how to create a sustainable business model? Do you have the passion, desire and motivation to start your own food business? Join our Designing the Business Model to Launch your Food-Based Business workshop series that explores assessing your business idea/model, defining your business structure, crafting a pitch, finding key partners, and other practical tools for early stage entrepreneurs. We guide you through a hands-on process of clarifying the business idea, identifying revenue streams, evaluating opportunities, calculating your cost of goods and laying the foundation for the business to thrive.

We will discuss resources that businesses can pursue, and platforms that you can leverage to catalyze your food- based business for community good. This module is 4-weeks long and includes a speed-mentoring session on the last week.

This class is right for you if:

  • You want to know how to turn your food-based business idea into a sustainable business model

When it comes to a food business, you are:

  • Interested in starting up/in the beginning stages
  • Looking for information on the legal requirements
  • Wondering “what do I do next” as it relates to going from "idea" to launch
  • Unsure if starting a food business is right for you
  • Looking for resources that are available to aid in starting
  • Unsure how to accurately cost your product and price it for retail

Session #1

  • Gain an understanding of the importance of setting up the right business entity and creating a sustainable business model:
  • Where do you see your business going?
  • Sole Proprietorship v. LLC
  • Cottage Food v. Food Establishment v. Food Service

Session #1

Michigan has certain regulations and guidelines that you must follow in order to produce your food under sanitary conditions and protect the health and wellbeing of your potential customer:

  • Cottage Law (labelling requirements, types of items allowed, etc.)
  • Food Establishment (licensing, labeling, etc.)
  • Food Service (licensing, labeling, etc.)
  • ServSafe
  • Business Insurance

Session #2

  • Understanding your cost of goods sold, often referred to as COGS, is an important piece of figuring out how to price your product. It’s also crucial to your ability to build a profitable, scalable business.
  • What exactly is your Cost of Goods (COGS)?
  • How to fund (and not to fund) your business
  • Business practices v. things to avoid
  • “Wearing all the hats”/ what else do you need to consider if your business grows.

Session #3

  • Define what groups you're providing value for
  • Identify a user persona you envision turning to you for solutions (design a customer profile)

Session #3

  • What problem does your customer have and how are you solving it?
  • Zero in on the heart of your product and/or service and highlight what stands out about the product and/or service you provide.

Session #3

  • Which channels are you using to reach your customer?
  • Evaluate which ones works best & which ones are most cost-efficient

Speed Mentoring
Session #4

  • Receive constructive feedback from your peers and mentors to refine your business strategy
  • The evening will start with networking, followed by an elevator pitch by each business owner.Small business owners will then meet in a fast-paced group setting, asking and answering questions in areas such as: sales and distribution, packaging, marketing, social media, and finance with local-area business experts.

When it comes to your food business, a thorough understanding of:

  • The licensing/certification process for starting a food business in Wayne or Oakland County, including costs for packaged goods and catering businesses
  • What types of insurance you will need and estimated costs
  • How to determine the costs of starting & running, including ingredient costs and how to determine the retail price for your product or food service
  • You will develop a business model canvas for starting & launching your food business (the first steps towards a business plan)
  • You will have an opportunity to participate in a “speed mentoring” session, after developing your roadmap, to ask seasoned food professionals their advice/suggestions/opinions on your most burning questions!

Program Format
Background materials

  • There will be background readings and homework that need to completed prior to the weekly in-person workshop


  • Weekly in-person workshops led by experts in each topic
  • Lecture and discussion on background materials, group activities and reflection
  • Business Development Activities
  • Weekly activities focused on your business development
  • All business development activities build to a clear elevator pitch at the end of the workshop

Peer Mentoring

  • Weekly business development activity and receive constructive feedback from peers
Winter Series - January 23, 30 & February 6, 13 
Spring Series - April 17, 24 & May 1, 8
Summer Series - July 17, July 24 & July 31, August 7
All workshops take place at Grand River Workplace (19120 Grand River, Detroit). 

Programming designed by In The Business of Food & FoodLab Detroit