Friday, January 20, 2017

Welcome back. Buckle up.

Welcome back.  I've taken about a year off from this blog to launch a new business.  That work is well underway and it's time to get back to writing.

I’m mashing up for-profit enterprises with non-profits to develop new regional food networks.  We're making jobs for people with disabilities along the way.

It looks like a promising way to leverage entrepreneurship in support of non-profit needs and goals.

In my first post back in 2005, I said I wanted to help launch a million new small businesses.  I still do, now more than ever.


I used to try to match a photo up with the nature of the blog post.  Going forward I’m going to use photos I’ve taken of birds.  Because I can.

Ring-necked Pheasant, male.  January 2017, Middleton, WI.  Rick Terrien. 

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ring-necked Pheasant.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Inspiring Purpose Prize leaders.

In 2015 I was fortunate to be honored as a Purpose Prize Fellow.

The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of the Purpose Prize, just published a great report about this year's prize winners.  It's an inspiring group that I'm very proud to be associated with.

From a remote corner of Alaska to Harlem, from micro lending to the arts, these 'encore career' leaders are demonstrating beautifully the many ways that age and experience can help solve intractable problems.

The world needs 'encore' contributors.  To a person, we're all doing this to help create a better world for the next generations.

It's an honor to be sprinting along with this group.

Intergenerational Inspiration Marks 10th Year of The Purpose Prize.  Templeton Report.  Dec. 10, 2015.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

My Kiva report. Thanksgiving 2015

really like working with KIVA to support entrepreneurs around the world through micro loans. is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

As of Thanksgiving 2015 I've made 108 loans to entrepreneurs in 69 different countries.  73% female.  27% male.

I've supported 7 of KIVA's 7 markers for social performance.

The business model is called a revolving loan.  You make the loan on your terms and when you get paid back you get to loan it out again. 

The interest you make is paid in gratification for being able to help your global peers build a better world.

As Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus said:  "A charity dollar has only one life; a social business dollar can be invested over and over again."


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful. Purpose Prize Fellow 2015

I am profoundly grateful that the work we are doing is being recognized.

I've just been included in a group of remarkable people creating inspiring new careers as a Purpose Prize Fellow.

Thank you!

From the Purpose Prize / web site:

" is building a movement to tap the skills and experience of people in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world.

Our ultimate goal is to create a better future for young people and future generations."

Everyone I work with, especially my co-workers with disabilities at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, is grateful for this recognition.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Author Marlon James - a huge win after 78 rejections.

You want real entrepreneurship?

Get closer to what artists and scientists do:
- Dream.
- Test.
- Persevere.
- Repeat.

Jamaican author Marlon James says he nearly gave up writing after his first novel, John Crow's Devil, was rejected 78 times by publishers.  He was recently awarded the Booker Prize, a literary award given each year for the best original novel, written in the English language, and published in the UK.

This recognition came within a close shave with disaster .  He had to retrieve the only remaining copy from an old email outbox.

Mr James dreamed and tested his story.  He persevered. Over and over.

"'There was a time I actually thought I was writing the kind of stories people didn’t want to read,' he told Today. Asked if he had considered giving up writing, the 44-year-old writer said: 'I did give it up. I actually destroyed the manuscript, I even went on my friends computers and erased it.' He said he retrieved the text by searching in the email outbox of an old iMac computer."

Entrepreneurs should look to artists and scientists for their inspiration:

Booker Prize winner's debut novel rejected nearly 80 times

Monday, September 28, 2015

"The Future of Food is Food"

Steve Case is an important investor and entrepreneur (AOL).  He recently wrote a good article called "The Future of Food is Food"

There are so many people touting goofy food trends that it's hard to keep up.  What Mr. Case brings us back to is the fact that someone has to grow real food and someone has to prepare it.

This is not manufacturing.  This is not an app.  This is not counting users.  This is food.  Part way through the quote below Mr. Case asks if Google would be serving powdered food and drinks to its employees.  I don't think so.

The world needs small, regionally based production kitchens that can capture, stabilize and move to market the millions and millions of pounds of food that are wasted every year during the harvest.  There is just no way to save it without minimal processing and a way to store it for year-round use on a commercial scale.

That's what our friends at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen do.   They take real food from real family farms in the Upper Midwest and turn it into delicious ingredients for year-round use on menus across the region.

They also take treasured recipes - and exciting new ones - and turn them into real food products and brands that food entrepreneurs can build careers on.  Nothing being made into 22nd century food powders.

Sure there will always be new ways of growing food and certainly new ways will arise to store and preserve it, but those efforts will be in support of real food not 'food like substances'.  That's what they do at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

Astronauts may have started out drinking Tang, but now they're growing leafy greens on the International Space Station.

Here are a few excerpts from the Future of Food is Food (link below)

"Do we need healthier food and a cheaper way of sourcing and distributing that food? Absolutely. But that’s not a powder. It’s authentic, natural foods, locally sourced, sustainably grown, brought fresh to our tables."

"Or let’s take Google. Google’s culture thrives on collaboration, which includes a buzzing and healthy in-house dining experience for everyone to mingle and relax. I doubt Google would dream of firing their chefs and replacing their buffet with powdered drinks."
"In fact, some of the best ideas I have ever been part of have come over a shared meal. I remember having sushi with Steve Jobs when he was outlining his vision for the iPod, and being moved by a conversation I had with Nelson Mandela in his home after lunch about the rise of Africa. And not a week goes by when I’m not inspired by an up-and-coming entrepreneur, sharing his or her vision for a better world as we break bread."
"Sure, there will be some that prefer powder over real food, and more time in front of a computer over more time with loved ones. Indeed, one advocate of powder over food recently told the New York Times, “I think engineers are ready to throw in the towel on the illusion that we’re having this family dinner … Let’s do away with all the marketing facade and get the calories as quickly as we can.”
"That is sad. That is not what Silicon Valley disruption is about. What are we innovating for, who are we building the future for, if we don’t value human connection?"
"In my opinion, Michael Pollan had it right when he urged us all to eat 'real food,' avoid 'edible food-like substances' — and 'don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.'"
"Sometimes revolutions take us forward by taking us back."

Amen.  You should check into Innovation Kitchens

The Future of Food is Food.  By Steve Case.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My 100th Kiva loan to global entrepreneurs

This weekend I made my 100th micro-loan through   

It's a good feeling to be able to support entrepreneurs globally.  It's especially nice when Kiva makes it so easy.

My portfolio after 100 loans:

73% female.  27% male.
About 95% related to agriculture and food entrepreneurship.  Kiva has a 98.59% repayment rate.  Kiva currently has about 1,341,049 individual lenders who have made about $759,301,075 in loans globally.

I'm proud to be part of this story.  I've included a link at the end if you'd like to learn more.

Here is the story behind my 100th Kiva loan (photo).  This story lured me in because it mirrors the effort we're making at the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen to improve food preparation efficiencies while creating valuable jobs for co-workers with disabilities:

"The 'Cristo el salvador' communal bank is made up of 5 responsible women who want to get ahead in life. In the new cycle the group is represented by Vilma, who is 50, single and has 4 children, 1 of whom still depends on her. She has a business selling all types of food that she prepares for her customers herself with a lot of hard work. That is why she will use the loan to buy an renew her utensils, such as pots, stirring spoons, plates and cutlery she needs to be able to serve and sell better. This is how Vilma generates her own income with a lot of hard work and dedication, to offer her son a better quality of life. In future, she plans on doing buffets for all types of events, because she is the best at that. In the group photo, Vilma is standing among the other members, who are seated."

Here is my 'country list', of places where I chose to make my micro-loans loans to help entrepreneurs:

Burkina Faso
Congo – DRC – Democratic Republic of Congo
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
Sierra Leone
South Africa
United States
Viet Nam

Don't wait for top down solutions to problems that can be solved at the person-to-person level.  I invite you to join this adventure in support of our global peers:

Thanks Kiva!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

"Innovation Kitchens is on the forefront of the eat local movement."

Great to see the shout-out for our business in the new Willy Street Co-op Reader.  In the Upper Midwest we're being cited as a possible food supply solution to the California drought.  Creating regional food processing systems to diversify the risks involved in California-centric models seems smart to me.


California Drought Provides Impetus for Innovation

Will Cushman.  Willy Street Reader.  Sept. 2015

Excerpted from:

Innovation Kitchen…

But what about the glut of locally grown summer produce?  Minnick said an exciting new partnership between the Co-op and a local venture might help Owners take advantage of that surplus and more throughout the winter.

Willy Street Co-op is in the beginning stages of what could become a very cool partnership that would bring Wisconsin’s summer produce to the Co-op’s shelves and freezers throughout the winter.  Located less than 60 miles southwest of Madison in Mineral Point, Innovation Kitchens is on the forefront of the eat local movement.  The commercial kitchen offers light processing that stabilizes produce – via freezing, canning and pickling – which Minnick said will provide another avenue for Owners to minimize their winter dependence on California produce.

The partnership actually began in 2014 when all of the Co-op’s pumpkin pies were baked with local pumpkins pureed at Innovation Kitchens.  This year, the partnership will bring locally grown broccoli to the Co-op’s freezers after it is prepared and frozen at the Mineral Point facility.

“It’s in the inception stage right now” Minnick said.  “A lot depends on how this broccoli deal goes, which was kind of our toe in the water.”   Ideally, Minnick said, if the frozen broccoli goes well, the Co-op will partner with Innovation Kitchens to bring a few other products into the Co-op shelves yet this winter.  If that goes well, Minnick foresees a much more coordinated effort in future years that would greatly expand the Co-op’s Wisconsin produce offerings during the winter.

“Every year we meet with local growers in the winter and scope out the year to come,” Minnick said.  “Hopefully if these things work out the way we hope they will, we’ll be able to talk to our growers this winter and say ‘Hey can you plant two acres of tomatoes just for this?’”  If all goes well, the partnership could bring new growers into the fold simply for winter-use contracts.  “Ideally, we’d be actually contracting for large quantities,” Minnick said.

Innovation Kitchens CEO and Founder Rick Terrien said the kitchen’s business model is the first he is aware of in the United States.  “We’re a small, regionally based co-packing facility”, Terrien said.  “We can focus on inbounding and sourcing local produce from local farms, and processing it minimally.”  In addition to its work with Willy Street Co-op, Terrien said Innovation Kitchens contracts with some area schools and hospitals, as well as local food producers like RP’s Pasta.


California Drought.  Full article in the Willy Street Co-op Reader.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Edible Startup Summit - Monday Aug 24 - Join us

I'm doing a presentation at the Edible Startup Summit in Madison tomorrow (Monday 8/24/2015).

My talk is titled 'How To Use
Co-Packing Services to Scale Up
a Professional Food Business.

If you're in the area please join us.

Looks like a great lineup of seminars and information sharing opportunities.

I love the Summit tag line - 'Building companies you can sink your teeth into!'

Link to the Edible Startup Summit 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen cited by U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzger - "Make It in America renaissance"

The work of the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen was just cited by U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzger as an example of the "Make It in America renaissance".  

Secretary Pritzger shared her remarks at the National Manufacturing Summit hosted by Wal-Mart.

She was announcing the awards as a way to identify innovative new 'Manufacturing Communities' in the United States for investors. 

The Madison (WI) region was chosen for its emphasis on agriculture, food and beverage.

Secretary Pritzger had hundreds of projects nationally to choose from to highlight by name as representing the 'Make It in America renaissance'.  She chose the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen.

"The IMCP designation is an important signal to potential investors that these communities are a good place to spend their money."

Thank you Secretary Pritzger!


Text for Secretary Pritzger's announcement remarks below:

"The Department of Commerce is also supporting the Make It in America renaissance through the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. This program – run by the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration – encourages regional collaboration to create comprehensive plans aimed at drawing inbound investment.

Here is how it works: Leaders from the private sector, local government, higher education, local economic development organizations, and other nonprofits work together to identify a sector of manufacturing where their community has a comparative advantage and draft a strategic plan that addresses: workforce and supply chain challenges; infrastructure; research and innovation; trade and investment; capital access; and operational improvement for manufacturing companies. 

After selecting the best plans, the Department of Commerce supports their implementation by coordinating federal aid from 11 different agencies and providing the community with a dedicated counselor to navigate federal services. An IMCP designation is an important signal to potential investors that these communities are a good place to spend their money. 

And this is smart government at work. By breaking down silos and encouraging communities to take a more thoughtful, comprehensive approach to their strategic plans, we are ensuring that precious federal dollars are used on the most high impact projects and in a way that maximizes return on investment.

Among this group is the Madison Regional Economic Partnership in Wisconsin, who put together an ambitious strategy aimed at taking advantage of the growing trend toward “local foods.” The community plans to expand the Wisconsin Innovation Kitchen, upgrade an existing kitchen incubator, build a Madison public market, and construct a training center and trucking logistics center. 

The other new designees are located across the country and span from a Louisiana State University-led consortium on chemical manufacturing to a partnership in the Pacific Northwest on wood products. I look forward to seeing how these communities grow as a result of their IMCP designation. 

From coast to coast, America’s manufacturers are the backbone of our economy, and our country’s prosperity is closely linked to your success. Through smart programs like IMCP, Manufacturing Day, and more, the Department of Commerce is committed to being your partners as this vital sector of economy continues its remarkable resurgence. Working together, we can ensure America’s manufacturers remain at the center of our nation’s prosperity and keep America open for your businesses. Thank you."