The recent sixth installment of the Food Entrepreneur Conference, held March 21-22, hosted 53 aspiring and current food entrepreneurs eager to learn more about opening or growing their own food business. That’s the largest number of participants so far for the annual event, which is held in Auburn every spring and coordinated by AUFSI and the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES).
Attendees were treated to an exciting lineup of current successful entrepreneurs who offered “real-life” advice for starting a food business, including keynote speakers Stacy Brown, co-founder of Chicken Salad Chick restaurants – there are more than 80 throughout the Southeast – and Robert Armstrong, founder of G Mommas “Southern style bite-sized cookies.” Both speakers were given overwhelmingly positive reviews by participants in post-conference evaluations, which described both Brown and Armstrong as inspiring and engaging.
Participants were also treated to a panel of five successful small-business entrepreneurs, who answered questions from a panel moderator and the audience about how they got their business started as well as their successes and missteps along the way.
Food industry experts from the Alabama Department of Public Health, Auburn University, and ACES discussed important business topics such as food safety regulations, product labeling, financing, and marketing. The conference wrapped up Thursday afternoon with breakout sessions on topics such as Cottage Food Law certification, catering/food service/bakery; food trucks; USDA meat products; and the innovative aquaponics industry.