What new business ideas might emerge if a group of local farm and food entrepreneurs explored ideas with a group of local technology experts?
That's what Strolling of the Heifers and the Brattleboro Area Tech group intend to find out at "Tech Salad," a farm-food-tech business workshop on March 3 at 5:30 p.m. at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden. The goal is of the workshop is to explore opportunities for ways in which these sectors can collaborate and solve problems, including new methods, new markets, new products, and potentially whole new businesses.
Tech Salad is the first of several such workshops planned by Strolling of the Heifers to connect farm and food entrepreneurs with members of various other sectors, as the first phase of Windham Grows, a new Stroll program designed to help launch and grow businesses in the Windham County farm and food sector.
According to Orly Munzing, Stroll founder and executive director, the organizers expect that people at the event will "interact and engage in order to discover new business and collaboration opportunities made possible by the shared interests and challenges of each sector."
"This event will be motivating, encouraging and empowering," said Munzing. "Ultimately, the purpose is for both the farm/food and technology sectors to create new jobs and contribute to the health and quality of the greater Brattleboro community."
The meetup will be facilitated by Nadav Malin, president of BuildingGreen, Inc., a Brattleboro consultancy that gathers, organizes and publishes information about green building technologies for building industry professional and policy makers.
Windham Grows is being developed by Strolling of the Heifers as a successor to the Farm/Food Business Planning Competition it has organized for many years. In Windham Grows, rather than receiving a check for a winning business plan, competitively-selected businesses will receive custom-tailored packages of mentoring and resources over a period of six to nine months, to help them through the startup or scale-up stage of their business.
"What we're looking for as an outcome of Tech Salad," Malin said, "is to smoke out a prioritized list of specific opportunities that participants can pursue with the support and resources that Strolling of the Heifers can bring to the table through Windham Grows. We're hoping that this meeting results in a handful of innovative ideas involving farms, food and technology, and that specific teams are identified to champion and develop those ideas."
"We think this is a collaborative opportunity that's very strong in Windham County," Malin added. "We have a growing number of small, very motivated farm and food businesses, and a network of technologists that has been meeting for several years. There are some real needs as well as some real capacity in both sectors."
Pizza and salad will be served at the meeting, which is free and open to any entrepreneurs in the Windham County food, agriculture or technology sectors. Participants are asked to register via www.strollingoftheheifers.com/techsalad.
Similar meetups with other sectors are planned, including one with green building industry entrepreneurs on March 29, and with marketing and logistics entrepreneurs on dates to be announced.