LEARN, MAKE, EAT & SHARE – ONE PLATE AT A TIME.
We spoke to mentors and managers Angelique Smith and Chef Jenny Ward about the challenges, triumphs and future of the Kitchen Incubator, and the wider ecosystem of the Makers Landing.
LEARN through challenges
Makers Landing, a welcome serving on the entrepreneurial plate of Cape Town, started in December 2020, amidst restrictive measures implemented as part of the National State of Disaster. While it has been challenging, many culinary South Africans, stuck at home, industriously created start-ups and went on to join the Kitchen Incubators at the Makers Landing.
Breaking into the food scene, be it producing for offsite consumption or starting a restaurant, starts with a heavy price tag. Many entrepreneurs struggle with access to funding to scale their kitchen space and equipment to produce their food on a larger scale. People often start their own businesses whilst still being employed and their time, resources and access to knowledge are a challenge. Numerous families started their food business as they needed the extra income to make it through these hard few years.
MAKE the solution: Kitchen Incubator
The Kitchen Incubator at Makers Landing builds up business owners with the knowledge to find their feet with direction, focus, sales strategy and financial support from industry experts. The incubatees are start-ups with some sales behind them who are mentored by industry experts and given use of the Makers Landing space for both selling and producing. The curriculum is robust and includes financial support, coupled with mentorship and a safe space to grow their business.
The Iridium team joined the incubator program in 2021 as financial mentors to share our expertise with the incubatees. We equip the incubatees with an understanding of break-even analysis, cash flow management and unpack the fundamentals of financial strategy. We also provide one-on-one mentorship to the business owners along with insights into their numbers so that they can make decisions with confidence.
Chef Jenny Ward helps the incubatees redevelop their products and strategies for increased scale and efficiency. A quick tour of the facilities with Chef Jenny Ward with the large walk-in fridges, freezers and dry food stores on display provided us with a great view of the economies of scale at work. The kitchens are shared productive spaces used for cooking, baking and prepping by 33 different chefs, 7 days a week with 24-hour access. A citrus farmer has even taken up residence, using some of the storage space and providing citrus to the tenants, showing the fullness of the food journey the Makers Landing holds.
“Not being alone anymore is one of the biggest things, sharing journeys and learning together in the incubator is amazing,”
– Angelique Smith
Even after graduation, the businesses remain supported and mentored by Angelique and Jenny who are very hands-on and support the graduates in reaching their business goals.
Creating a viable business is the heart of the kitchen incubator. The various businesses all have unique purposes, set out by those who created them. Some are looking to grow to full-scale restaurants, others have a desire to be part of the V&A’s markets, others are interested in baking for local Spars or many are simply looking to create a safe, sustainable income for their families.
SHARE: the vision for the future
It’s clear that being part of and supported by a community like Makers Landing opens up people to collaborations and ideas for growth. Angelique’s advice to someone starting a business in the food industry is:
“Look at diversifying income streams, collaborating and working together so that you really are leveraging from markets to selling to shops, to selling online, the more sales channels and the more spread the sources of income, the less the risk.”
As a business that has job creation/growth as its main goal, the collaboration between Iridium and Makers Landing’s Incubator program has been a fulfilling partnership. We’ve been able to provide our team members with exposure to presenting on topics as well as one-on-one meetings with entrepreneurs to discuss their businesses and challenges. Our client community also now includes Ooh Fudge who was part of cohort 1 and we look forward to welcoming further food entrepreneurs in the months to come.
EAT: Bring your plate
The Makers Landing ecosystem is for the food purveyors, makers, and those who simply want to join in and grab a plate. There are also stations where fresh food and treats are prepared from Thursday to Sunday for sale to the public. With three hours of free parking at the Makers Landing, it’s a great escape that can be an easy and delicious experience.
Thinking of applying for the Makers Landing? Angelique and Jenny shared what you should bring to the table if you would like to join the next cohort.
- Have an openness to feedback
- Be willing to get vulnerable
- The program is time-consuming, so ensure you have the right support in place with your family so that you can give your full energy to the program