We’ve partnered with Oakland New Roots (IRC) to offer a comprehensive two-phase food entrepreneurship course that takes our students from concept to the actualization of starting their own businesses. The two-phase course is designed to provide our students with not only a fundamental understanding of business practices, but also with 1-on-1 mentorship and hands-on support as they make their way towards launching their own businesses.

The Phase I course will offer a food business fundamentals training course followed by a longer duration Phase II, which offers 1-on-1 mentoring for students who have completed Phase I and are deemed ready to take their food business ideas to market.

Phase I will provide an introduction to business concepts and business development skills, as well as hands-on experience working in a professional commercial kitchen that will give students the confidence and fundamental skills to either gain employment in the foodservice industry and/or begin developing their own businesses.

Examples of course offerings include:

  • “Business 101” class including: business regulations, finance, and budgeting
  • “Marketing 101” class including: marketing, brand development, & logo design
  • Lecture from an entrepreneur guest speaker
  • Participation in culinary events in the Bay Area
  • Procurement field trip to local marketplace
  • Commercial kitchen orientation
  • Food safety course (followed by a food handlers certification exam)

Our program concludes with a 2-day practicum in food business that requires students to complete a final project that includes working in assigned teams to: develop their own product; write a recipe; calculate food costs; determine product pricing, and develop branding, including a logo, for their product.

If a student shows promise and commitment, and has the desire to start a business, he or she will be invited to move on to the Phase II course. In Phase II, students will work directly with entrepreneurs via a mentorship program in which they will receive 1-on-1 counseling as they work toward launching their own businesses – in many cases, the sale of food products via farmers’ markets and / or retail outlets. Students will receive more detailed instruction on marketing- and distribution-related topics and will attend events aimed at providing networking opportunities, resulting in actual sales.

Click here to meet some of our students!