Cooking Up A Business by Rachel Hofstetter

imgres-1I was at an event which I can’t remember for the life of me but Rachel told me she was going to mail me her book when it came out.  I promised her I would read it.  It took me longer than it should have but I finally got around to reading her book.   Cooking Up A Business is an excellent read for anyone who is starting a business particularly when it comes to the food world.

Rachel interviews founders of Kopali Organics, Tasty, Phil’s Burritos, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Justins Nut Butter, Hint, Popchips, Cameron Hughes Wine and Vosges Haut-Chocolat.  Each chapter tells their story and Rachel sums up each of them with take away lessons learned at the end of each chapter.  Each chapter also has a separate area that might talk about the legal or FDA issues which add to the particular story.

I have spent many years being involved in the growth of Ricks Picks and have learned more than I ever thought I would know about the consumer products market when it comes to food.  Rachel hit every nail on the head.  It is a really hard business to scale.  Most founders just fall into it except for a few outliers who are generally on to their second or third product so they know how to build those businesses.

Interesting that many of the products are named after the founders.  In the tech world that is a definite no-no.  How can you sell your business when the business is tied up in your own personal brand.  Different in the consumer world but certainly something to think about.

The book is a winner.  I would even recommend it to anyone starting a business but if you are starting a food business consider this a manual.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Shala

    Yes! I love Rachel’s book and as a Founder herself (of she is so great at extracting out the points that are critical in the product creation lifecycle. She did a great job of compiling not only an amalgamation of human stories, but portioning out each vignette as a reference for how to address certain aspects of the food business. It’s a great book for even non-foodie founders as you see how others have addressed certain issues which inevitably arise in any scalable business (how to find funding, etc.)

  2. pointsnfigures

    Food is so enticing, but it might be tougher than software. Saw this the other day and it looks pretty cool –

    1. Gotham Gal

      I think it is tougher

  3. LE

    How can you sell your business when the business is tied up in your own personal brand.This is normally my biggest complaint with people calling their consulting practice by their own name. Makes the exit strategy much harder.I think what it gets down to is really naming conventions based on legacy examples.Certain types of business are named certain ways most likely based on the initial business acumen of the owner (as well as their business knowledge) and, [1] and this is important, whatever the conventions are for that type of business.I remember a time in the 80’s when people were always tacking on “Enterprises” to their company name. They thought it made them “look like a large company”. When instead it probably had the opposite outcome on anyone knowledgeable. (An equivalent example is probably “labs” at the end of some tech companies (as if..))Obviously restaurants follow a typical naming convention. Can be a person’s name. Can be a strange word. Can be something random. Hair salons are the same but they also tend to get cute and funny names as well.If you believe that most people who start businesses don’t have much experience, then what they will do is simply mimic what they see others doing and take that as “the way it’s done’. Every now and then someone deviates of course.I could talk for hours on this subject.[1] I mean it’s hard to believe that anyone with a large knowledge of business and naming would use “craigslist” or “angieslist” as the name of their company, right? For that matter google was originally supposed to be called “backrub” of all things. Which of course proves that if the opportunity is large enough, or the talent good enough, the name doesn’t matter. Except that is rarely the case and the name almost always does matter.

    1. Gotham Gal

      name matters

  4. andrewghayes

    Just ordered my copy, thanks Joanne.