by Melissa Johnson, Madison Magnet Board Member and Marketing Committee Co-Chair Madison, Wisconsin is truly an incredible food town and fruitful location for chefs and entrepreneurs to launch a business. This community boasts one of the largest farmers' markets in the country, with over 170 vendors who sell unique items ranging from cheeses to vegetables to jams and honeys. We're also known for our farm-to-table restaurants like Graze. So how do these local chefs and vendors get the word out about their business?
Enter Locavore ROAR, a food marketing company whose mission is to "connect local food artisans, producers and growers to chefs, retailers, business owners, home cooks, and the media by featuring them in a monthly e-newsletter, highlighting them on social media, and showcasing them at food events." I recently had the opportunity to interview Tiffany Kenney, founder and owner of Locavore ROAR, to learn more about owning a business as a young professional in Madison.
MJ: How did you decide to start your business here in Madison? What makes Madison special?
TK: I started Locavore ROAR here because we focus on supporting local food events, restaurants and producers; and the best food in all the country comes from the Midwest. With offices in Monona, Wisconsin we are located close to our clients - 10 minutes from our restaurant clients, less than 30 minutes to some of the best food events, and within hours of the most exciting local food producers. Madison is truly a special place to live. It has many of the arts and activities a bigger city would have, yet remains warm and friendly. Our community is eager, excited and extremely supportive of the local food movement.
MJ: What does networking mean for your business, and your career?
TK: Networking is EVERYTHING for my business. I attend networking opportunities with Madison Magnet, Dane Buy Local, Madison Originals, Slow Food Madison, Monona East Side Business Alliance, A Fund For Women, and many more. Learning is never-ending so I always look forward to joining a friend at their industry-specific networking opportunities. Many of our clients have found us through common projects. To date, all of our clients have come from word-of-mouth, so networking is the most important factor in our current success. We believe strongly in delivering on our promises; so proof of performance has made referrals the second most important aspect of our business growth.
MJ: What are your tips for young professionals in Madison that would like to start their own business?
TK: Starting a business in Madison can be both challenging and very rewarding. The size of this community means that everyone both watches and cheers on your every move. Be careful to never stop learning. The UW and Madison College offer so many programs to help. Surround your self with smart, encouraging people ~ fortunately Madison is full of people wanting you to succeed. Ask for help and often you will find it easy to find the help you may need. I would encourage any young professional interested in starting their own business in Madison to volunteer, network, and get involved!