NWC Food Incubator provides a continuing series of educational opportunities geared specifically to food entrepreneurs.   Supplemented by new offerings every month, following are recurrent programs. 

Introduction to Food Entrepreneurship (monthly):

A 2 hour crash course for those just forming a business idea in the food space. We will provide you with the information needed to understand how to navigate the unique challenges of starting a food business.

This seminar will help get you started down the path of developing a plan and operating your business.  It includes an overview of licensing and other start-up requirements, the different requirements for various types of food businesses, as well as insight into market research and keys to business sustainability.

Class held at NWC Food Incubator and at locations around Chicago - see specific dates for location information.

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NWC Food Business Boot Camp (quarterly)

An intensive training program for new food business entrepreneurs. 

This challenging program:

  1. is specific to food business start-ups
  2. will provide you with virtually everything you need to know/think about to start a food business HERE IN CHICAGO
  3. will give you access to Advisors and owners of recent start-ups,
  4. was designed with you in mind based on feedback from entrepreneurs just like you, to give you a running start at creating a successful, sustainable business!

This is a 5 week program (same night of the week for 5 consecutive weeks) where you will work towards launching and growing your business by developing a workable business plan.

Class Outline

Session 1   Introduction/Business Concept Workshop

Session 2  Branding / Customer Analysis 

Session 3  Marketing

Session 4  Product Production

Session 5  Business & Finance

(all sessions held 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at Now We're Cookin', 1601 Payne Street, Evanston, IL 60201)

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Maximizing Your Farmers’ Market Success (annual)

NWC Food Incubator invites new and established food businesses to learn about what it takes to successfully market your product at local farmer's markets and other seasonal retail markets.  This annual seminar offers a panel discussion about topics such as determining if selling at a market is right for you; understanding the timeline for applying to sell at markets; identifying which markets make the most sense to attend based on your business profile/strategy; sampling your product safely; understanding the financial and time commitments involved; and successfully engaging with customers.  This seminar will help businesses ensure that their market experience meets their goals and ends up as a rewarding time investment. 

Panelists include Market Managers and experienced Market vendors.

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Get on the Shelf

Supermarket Strategy Session: ideal for developing and established food businesses interested in learning key strategies for establishing wholesale accounts. From preparing a sales pitch to ensuring product maintenance, we will provide you with all the information you need to successfully approach and develop a relationship with buyers. Join us and guest speakers from well-known supermarkets and artisanal shops to learn the fast track to getting and keeping your product on store shelves. Sign me up!

Packaging Your Product

Creating and sourcing cost effective packaging for food startups is one of the most challenging tasks for businesses launching new products.

NWC Food Incubator invites food business entrepreneurs to learn how engaging packaging can contribute to successfully and affordably marketing your product at a variety of points of sale. This seminar will include a panel discussion about packaging topics such as how foods need to be packaged depending on the point of sale; how to evaluate and compare available packaging options; and how creative packaging can set your product apart.  Businesses will leave with an understanding of how to navigate packaging options, how to align packaging and labeling options with sales channels, and a list of resources to get started. Sign me up!

Labeling Seminar

80% of food products are pulled off the shelves due to labeling discrepancies. Complexity and constant change make labeling a high level concern in the food industry.

Nutrition labels, as well as nutrition and health claims, are important tools to communicate the make-up, quality and health benefits of a food product to consumers. They provide point-of-sale information to help consumers make informed choices. However, for new food entrepreneurs the regulations/rules for proper labeling can seem complex.

NWC Food Incubator invites food business entrepreneurs to join us for a detailed look at the importance of accurate labeling in the food industry. Designed for those interested in getting their products out in the market and particularly onto store shelve, this course will dive into what information has to be in the nutrition facts panel (specific to the Illinois area), what information is voluntary, when different nutrition formats can be used and when a product may be exempt from nutrition labeling. More specifically, the seminar will provide information on the following:

  Proper naming of a food

  Principal display and information panels

  Development of an ingredient statement

  Nutrition labeling - content and format options

  Nutrient content claims

  Health messages

  Practical issues in food labeling regulation

  The latest information on Food allergen labeling

  Shelf life representations

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Mastering Marketing MAYHEM; Intro to Social Media

 92% of companies are now incorporating social media into their marketing strategies Are you?

More and more consumers are turning to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social media accounts to make their purchasing decisions for them.  Did you know yogurt sales went up 2500% due to online marketing? Social media is taking over the market and we're here to help you get in on the action!

If you're new to social media for your business, this class is for you. We will introduce you to some of the more popular outlets and teach you how they can benefit your business. Find out which food campaigns work and which don't. Learn how to create a basic account, market strategically, rapidly network, increase exposure and drive business.  We'll even let you in on some nifty holiday marketing tricks! Sign me up!