Forge Food Curriculum

15 September 2014 by Rob Bart

Forge: Food is bringing in well-connected, local business experts to facilitate this innovative 6-week accelerator course in downtown Portland. The accelerator will give food producers the opportunity to learn how to aggressively scale their business and grow their brand, create invaluable connections, network with distributors, and develop a competitive business strategy. Our goal is for you to complete the program with the knowledge and network to help move your product to the next level. Participants will leave the course with a growth plan, a brand positioning statement, and a 30-second promotional video for their product.

Week 1

How to Decide If You Are a National or Local/Regional Business

We will set the tone for the accelerator by laying out some of the factors and considerations that food producers need to be aware of as they make the critical decision to try to become a national producer or remain regional and concentrate on operational efficiency.

WEDNESDAY, October 8th 6-8pm

J-P Voillequé

Opening Speaker

SATURDAY, October 11th 9am-12pm

Introduction to Branding and Legal Nuts and Bolts

Dave Barcos and Andrew Kugler

Dave Barcos will introduce a brand analysis to producers. Producers will survey national, state, and local trends within their niche to craft their brand position. A brand position is fundamental to producers trying to go beyond mere placement on store shelves and move towards a dedicated and loyal customer base. The brand analysis will also allow producers to begin developing their pitch to investors by supporting their product with documented market trends and projections. A typical brand analysis by Dave costs around $7,000.

Andrew will be available at Forge to help producers understand operating agreements and make sure they understand their responsibilities as a LLC or corporation. For companies without operating agreements, they will be offered a small group discussion outlining why an operating agreement is necessary and what should be included.


WEDNESDAY, October 15th 6-8pm

“Sales” Does Not Mean “Profit”

Steve Goebel

Steve Goebel’s background running a brewery in Portland, working for a major corporation and now teaching law at Lewis and Clark College make him an ideal person to talk about how growth does not necessarily mean profit. Companies which fail to accurately project cash flow can literally find themselves broke, even while doing millions in sales.

SATURDAY, October 18th 9am-12pm

Cash Flow Analysis and Branding

Todd Cayton

Todd will help companies better understand their own financial projections to determine at what sales volume they will realize a profit. This working session is critical for Tuesday’s presenters.

Using Data to Pitch to Investors

Rob Bart

Rob will review the brand analysis information with individuals to help them start to craft a pitch to investors using solid market research data and concise language.

Week 3

TUESDAY, October 21st: 6-8pm

Debt vs Equity: How and When to Take On Capital

Dave Williams and Terry Brandt

Dave and Terry will lead a discussion on how and when producers should take on additional capital. For producers trying to scale quickly, understanding their pro-forma and at what point they will realize a return is critical. Dave will field questions on this topic. For other producers determining how and when to take on debt for capital purchases and operating expenses is a delicate balance. Terry will offer insights into strategies to balance both of these questions.

SATURDAY, October 25th: 9am-12pm Supply and Distribution Chain Analysis

Mike Shur and Martin McClanan

Now that producers understand their profit margins, brand positioning, and access to debt or equity options, it is time to think about operational efficiency. Supply and distribution chain analysis is key to cutting cost to increase profits. But, it is also key to creating the right persona for your company.

Normally, a national brand implies a distribution chain, which eats into profits. Martin will talk about how to get your product into specialty catalogs to reach a wide audience than the Northwest.

Week 4

TUESDAY, October 28th: 6-8pm

Telling Your Story in the Media

Rick Perry/Jules Rogers/Steven Shomler

As a small producer, you cannot afford to buy media coverage, yet exposure is to key to promoting your brand’s story. This week focuses on creative social media strategies beyond Facebook and Twitter, how to write a press release and what makes a newsworthy story.

SATURDAY, November 1st: 9am-12pm

Short script drafting and creative uses for social media

Costa Pankin

Building on the brand position statement and media strategy, producers will begin writing their 30-second script which will be turned into a short video about their product.

Week 5

TUESDAY, November 4th: 6-8pm

Sustainable Practices

Franklin Jones

Today in business sustainability goes beyond the practices of your operation, it goes to the ingredients you use and the vendors you do business with. Franklin will help you understand best practices that apply to you and your company.

SATURDAY, November 8th: 9am-12pm

Cutting Your Operational Costs

Michel Algazi

Michel will lead an intensive one-day session on cutting operational costs. For producers, scaling and becoming more efficient is the key to turning a profit. This session will build on the work of the previous 5 weeks and will be our culminating working session.

Week 6

TUESDAY, November 11th: 6-8pm

Next Steps for Your Business

Jesse Lyons

In our final session, producers will have the opportunity to engage in a question and answer session with one of Portland’s premier food attorneys.

Group Panel Discussion & Breakout Groups
All Presenter Panel

This culminating session will offer producers a chance to showcase their products to presenters & be open to the community at large!