WASHINGTON — “What do I do now?”
That’s the question many small business owners and entrepreneurs are asking right now as rising COVID-19 cases keep people at home.
Cureate is a D.C.-based company helping entrepreneurs in the food and beverage industry answer that question. The company has a local purchasing team that buys from small business suppliers, and they recently launched Cureate Courses, a curriculum designed to empower local entrepreneurs and anyone thinking about starting their own business.
“We really try to make sure our courses are priced affordably and also very accessible to a wide range of food entrepreneurs who are asking themselves that question: Now what happens?” Cureate CEO and Founder Kim Bryden said.
Their courses cover topics ranging from “defining mission and values, to branding and marketing, to exploring new sales channels,” according to the Cureate website.
Cureate recognizes that not everyone starts off with the industry knowledge and connections necessary to develop sales channels. They facilitate those connections among the people taking their courses.
“A lot of times in entrepreneurship we’ll talk about access to financial capital, but not as much about social capital,” Bryden said. “And it really grinds my gears because oftentimes you might not be born into the right networks … You need to understand that entrepreneurship has a lot to do with relationship building. And so that’s a core component of our curriculum and how we design it: what is that peer to peer learning and also how are we building one another’s tribes and social capital networks?”
Myles Powell is currently enrolled in Cureate Courses. He is the founder and CEO of 8 Myles, a Mac and Cheese company that started off selling sauces in 2015 and can now be found on the shelves of stores nationwide.
Even after five years of running a small business, Powell said Cureate Courses have helped him navigate recent challenges and hone his business strategy.
Before COVID-19, his brand’s marketing strategy was mainly in-store demos. When the pandemic hit, Cureate Courses helped him develop a new game plan on the fly.
“Because of COVID, we can’t demo,” Powell said. “So I was kind of left in a space of, okay, how do I get my product into the hands of people that need it? Because of it being a frozen product and it being such a huge shelf, it’s so easy to get lost in the mix. And one of the courses we did was … on target audiences and marketing. And so that kind of helped me shift focus to who I should be targeting.
Thanks to Cureate, Powell said he has now implemented a new marketing strategy that uses online platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach his target audience.
Cureate Courses is helping people meet the challenges of this pandemic head-on by finding new ways to think about the retail experience.
And Bryden is hoping to extend this mission to the D.C. area and beyond.
“What we’re also hoping is that … other cities or main streets or municipalities that see a cluster of their businesses going through these really hard, difficult times, perhaps they can together, create a Cureate courses curriculum, hire us to bring it into their communities," Bryden said. "Because it’s so much power. It’s very powerful when it’s a group together."
Cureate has graduated four groups of local entrepreneurs but they’re also offering 3 online courses that you can enroll in on your own, for $20 each, at the link below.