(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
Since launching in January, Startup Soiree has been unique among entrepreneur-focused events in Baltimore for its embrace of businesses that go beyond tech.
That agnostic approach was on display for a Soiree at Pixilated Photobooth headquarters as School of Food took the reins for a look at emerging businesses in the food space. School of Food is the business training arm of the larger City Seeds program that will eventually open a test kitchen in the Baltimore Food Hub. The idea is to help people who make good noms make a business out of it, too.
On Tuesday, Kim Bryden took the sense-based learning approach by allowing other entrepreneurs to taste, see and hear from food entrepreneurs. In the process, we got to learn more about businesses that are mixing it up around town.
1. 2 a.m. Bakery
Gregory Carpenter arrived a little late, but made an instant impact with the audience that propelled him to win the audience vote. He talked up the bakery’s “world’s best carrot cake,” meaning that a long line formed in front of his display once he finished a brief pitch.
The bakery’s goods are currently available at Hip Hop Fish & Chicken. The company also has a social mission to work with people who were recently released from prison, which Carpenter has experience with himself. Recently, Carpenter received a grant from the Open Society Institute-Baltimore to help him expand his work with men returning from incarceration.
2. Gundalow Juice
Founder Dana Sicko presented on this company, which makes juices downstairs from Pixilated Photobooth in Morrell Park. The company makes natural juices with no additives. Sicko said it’s mostly available in fitness studios, for now. Sicko’s other company is a personal chef business called Nutreatious, which is planning to open a test kitchen in Plank Industries’ City Garage in Port Covington.
3. Diamondback Beer
To stand out in the crowded craft beer space, Diamondback Beer aims to be a craft beer “that your dad can drink,” cofounder Francis Smith said. The company was founded by a trio of University of Maryland grads who wanted to be based in the Baltimore area. To this point, their beer has come from contract facilities on the Eastern Shore and in Sterling, Va., but cofounder Colin Marshall said opening a brewery in the area is in their plans. Diamondback also recently launched a brew called Omar’s OPA, named for The Wire character.
The condiment company that caught a $5 million investment from Kevin and Scott Plank was on hand. The company’s founding story goes that someone broke into the townhouse of cofounder Greg Vetter’s mother to steal salad dressing, so he knew it must be good enough to sell. Now, it’s in Whole Foods, Costco and Safeway. Eric Strickland said demoing is key to the company’s expansion, as it allows people to taste for themselves when considering options.
5. Tenth Harvest
Founder Carlee Pipitone started Tenth Harvest to import and distribute wine and spirits to local restaurants. “We’re the middle man in what’s known as the three-tier system, so we are the ones that source the wines you see in the restaurant,” she said.
The company focuses on buying from small farmers and estate wineries. Pipitone focuses on relationship-building, visiting each of the wineries personally before doing business. Currently, she sources from France, Oregon, Italy and Washington state.
6. Elaine’s Brown Sugar
Daryl Flood is originally from Washington, D.C., but on a visit to Baltimore he saw an opportunity to create a bakery and cafe. He relied on a recipe from his grandmother. First in Locust Point, the company is currently in the process of moving to Southwest Baltimore. The company also supplies cookies and baked goods to federal agencies.-30-
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