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The Taster Program

A two-week workshop series aimed at providing a practical roadmap to those looking to turn an idea into a viable food business.

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What is the Taster Program? 

The taster program is FoodLab's newest mini-program that is launching in 2022. It is a two-day workshop series spread over two weeks, aimed at providing a practical roadmap to those looking to turn an idea into a viable food business.

The taster program is ideal for those who are:

  • interested in starting their own food business one day and have no idea where to start

  • driving themselves crazy with different business ideas and need a toolkit and a framework to test viability

  • working on an existing food business, albeit at an early stage, and want to go 'back to basics'

  • feeling isolated or lonely in their journey into food entrepreneurship and want to find a like-minded community to grow with

  • struggling to find food business support and resources in the one place 

  • wanting to get a 'taste' of the full FoodLab program and discover whether it may be a good fit 

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Did you know we are running a free info session soon?

What to expect

The Taster Program is made up of two workshops split over two weeks, held in-person at Pocket City Farm from 9am - 4.15pm. 

 

There is no obligation to progress to the second workshop, but for those that do, we offer graduate benefits as well as a bonus online workshop that gives students the opportunity to connect with FoodLab alumni and pitch their idea in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Masterclasses with an Expert

Facilitated by an experienced food business trainer that has tailored a series of practical, hands-on workshops.

Practical Tools and Resources

Access to a suite of videos, worksheets, templates and checklists that can be accessed even after course completion.

A Taste of Community

Join a diverse and passionate community of food entrepreneurs and share your own skills and knowledge.  

Guest Speakers from Industry

Learn from successful local food business owners and professionals who have done it all before.

Pitch to FoodLab alumni

Pitch your ideas (and challenges) to entrepreneurs who understand the early stages of business and can walk through it with you.

Graduate Benefits

Receive concession prices on future FoodLab events and receive additional future opportunities and event invitations.

We work through the basics with you...

Failure

It may be surprising to hear that 50% of startups will fail within three years of operation. We work through the key reasons for food business failure and adopt a completely new entrepreneurial mindset together.

Developing Good Business Ideas

It's easy to think of a food business idea, but developing good food business ideas that are desirable, viable and feasible are difficult to come by. We explore how to develop an amazing idea through a critical, strategic, human-centric lens using principles of Design Thinking.

Market Research Basics

This is the part of food business that most people do not do. It is also the reason why so many food businesses fail. We teach practical, grounded strategies that help food entrepreneurs become experts in their fields.  

MVP and Testing

We teach an innovative entrepreneurial testing strategy called the minimum viable product, applied to the highly regulated food sector, which enables food entrepreneurs to learn fast to fail less using less money.

Standing Out

Food is a busy industry. Through the arts of storytelling, gastronomy, connoisseurship, and sensory analysis we pull apart the value propositions unique to the food sector and learn how to apply them to a food business.

 
Testimonials

The best thing about FoodLab is the grassroots nature of the program. A passion to create something new and be part of Sydney's evolving food scene is the main criteria.

We were spoiled with a flow of successful food business leaders who shared their time with us, telling stories of overcoming their own challenges along the way to success.


It truly is a supportive environment that is practically focused on making my dream food business come true.

Mark, Founder of Dilectio Gourmet

I am so proud to have created a food business that introduces my own kids to my culture. FoodLab has just been a course that was so very relevant to what I'm doing. I've been through another course before and I didn't find it helpful. Whereas FoodLab has been spot on for me.

I've really appreciated the depth of knowledge and inspiration from the mentors. It helped me get through some really difficult times this year and I love that we get to stay in this community ongoing.

Zona, Founder of Thorny Fruit Co

On Monday I start work as a pastry chef. 

I am very happy and excited. I want to thank FoodLab for everything. FoodLab has helped me get this job because of the good training and mentoring I have found here. 

 

I have been working in a job for a long time that I have not liked but not confident enough in English to pursue my dream as a pastry chef. This program has helped me move closer to this step. Thank you for the good mentoring.

Yong, Chef at Wholegreen Bakery

I loved every minute of the course at FoodLab Sydney. It gave me and is still giving me a lot of insights, practical tips and much-needed mentoring as I grow my market garden.

With FoodLab Sydney’s guidance, I learned about highlighting the value and uniqueness of healthy and sustainable produce compared to items bought in supermarkets.

The FoodLab course also helped me identify the different potential markets – which are the most suitable and most appropriate for my growing market garden and how to bring my customers into the journey.

Sarah, Founder of Popes Produce

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Host a Taster Program in your local community.

Sydney is big. NSW is bigger. We invite you to help us make FoodLab more local to your region. If you find 10 or more people in your area who want to take part in the program, we'll try to host the program locally.

Frequently asked questions

Who is the Taster Program for?


The Taster Program is for anyone who is:

  • Interested in starting their own food business one day and have no idea where to start
  • Driving themselves crazy with different business ideas and need a toolkit and a framework to test viability
  • Working on an existing food business, albeit at an early stage, and want to go 'back to basics'
  • Feeling isolated or lonely in their journey into food entrepreneurship and want to find a like-minded community to get a second opinion
  • Struggling to find food business support and resources in the one place
  • Wanting to get a 'taste' of the Full Program and discover whether it may be a good fit




How often is the Taster Program run?


The Taster Program will be run as often as there is demand. Currently, we have an extensive waiting list of students who want to join the FoodLab Sydney community, so we expect to be running Taster Programs monthly from February 2022.




How many people are accepted into each program?


We accept a maximum of 20 applicants per intake.




How much does it cost?


The Taster Program has a $149 fee for each of the two full-day workshops. This does not include food. This is charged before each workshop, with no obligation to attend and pay for the second workshop. However, those that graduate from the Taster Program by completing both workshops receive a bonus online mentoring and pitching session as well as ongoing graduate benefits and offers. Please note that FoodLab Sydney offers equity scholarships for those where money is a barrier to completing our programs.




Why is there a fee?


The fee goes towards funding the operational cost of running the Taster Program to ensure the best experience possible for all students.




What actually happens during the workshops?


The Taster Program comprises of two full day workshops on a Saturday from 9am - 4.15pm, plus a bonus online mentoring session. The program focuses on providing the skills, tools and resources required to take a food business idea to market. This includes breaks for networking and reflection time throughout the workshops. The program includes:

  • Starting with understanding soil (the basic building block of any food business) through a series of cohort-building, farm-friendly challenges.
  • Demystifying failure in the food business sector
  • Breakout sessions to brainstorm and work through your vision, and validating a new business idea
  • Working with and providing feedback to other amazing individuals in your mini-cohort
  • Hearing from leading food entrepreneurs in the local Sydney food system
  • Access to a number of worksheets, templates and toolkits that guide and support newbie food entrepreneurs.
  • Receiving bespoke advice and personalised guidance on your food business idea from the program facilitator.




Am I eligible for an equity scholarship?


FoodLab Sydney offers equity scholarship placements to those who have experienced forms of social, economic, political or cultural disadvantage. This includes but is not limited to migrants, refugees, at-risk women, First Nations people, disabled, cultural or other minorities or those by which money is a barrier to completing our programs. We ask that applicants tick the 'apply for an equity scholarship' box on their expression of interest form if they resonate with any of the above groups or situations. Please note that there are currently more applicants than available scholarships. If you are unsuccessful it doesn’t mean that you’re not in need; rather, it means that there are other applicants who’ve been assessed as being in greater need.




Where will the Taster Program be held?


The Taster Program will be held in-person at Pocket City Farm in Camperdown, Sydney. Outside of the program, you are free to meet with your new cohort - we encourage you to get to know your new good food community.




The time and location doesn't work well for me. Is there a way this can be run in my local community on another day?


Although we humbly believe the Taster Program is worth travelling for, we acknowledge that the time and location may not be feasible for all. Our team has designed the Taster Program to be flexible to match the needs of local communities around Sydney (and greater NSW) if there is enough demand. If you find 10 or more people in your area who want to take part in the program, we will host the program locally. Please contact us if you want to find out more.




What if I dont like the first workshop? Do I have to continue?


No. The program fee is charged before each workshop but with no obligation to attend and pay for the second workshop. However, those that graduate from the Taster Program by completing both workshops receive a bonus online mentoring and pitching session as well as ongoing graduate benefits and offers.




I'm keen. What is the application process like?


The first stage is to fill in an expression of interest form where we collect your basic information and understand your interest in the program. We may follow up with you through a phone call or email to clarify your application. If your application is successful, you will be offered a place in our next Taster Program where we will send out the key dates and details via email. If your application is unsuccessful, don't worry! We plan on running a number of Taster Programs so that fewer entrepreneurs miss out.




Do I have to apply with a fleshed out food business idea?


No. We accept ideas of all stages no matter how rough it is. Ideally, applicants undertake the Taster Program with the goal of learning how to test and prove a food business concept, but applicants may also find value if they are considering a career change into the food sector.




When will the next Taster Program be held?


Taster Programs will typically be held on either Saturday or a Monday from 9am - 4.15pm. We encourage all interested applicants to apply through our expression of interest form. If your application is successful, you will be offered a place in our next Taster Program where we will send out the key dates and details of the upcoming program via email. Keep an eye out on our social media accounts as well to stay abreast of upcoming programs.





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Applications are currently open for our next program with limited spaces available. Register your interest now!

Program Supporters
Sydney Environment Institute
City of Sydney
USU