YouthTrade with a Side of Popcorn

One of the most interesting parts of running Baking for Good has been getting to know other young entrepreneurs, especially ones in the food space. Last week I had the privilege of representing Baking for Good at the first ever YouthTrade Summit with Whole Foods in Cambridge, MA. YouthTrade is a new initiative whose goal is to promote entrepreneurship among people under the age of 35 by creating new markets for their products. Whole Foods is the first corporation to sign on, and they invited YouthTrade members to Cambridge for two days to present our products and meet with buyers to learn the process of selling in their stores.

A highlight of the two-day conference (aside from the fabulous catered breakfasts and lunches) was hearing from a husband-and-wife team that has recently begun selling their all-natural microwave popcorn in Whole Foods stores across New England. Kristy and Coulter from Quinn Popcorn shared with us an honest look at what it has taken them to build a packaged food company from the ground up. They talked about what it’s been like to launch a company and have a newborn baby (tiring, difficult); how they had to work extra hard to find suppliers whose standards lived up to their own (and how some of the first suppliers they considered were not always transparent); what they learned from watching testers’ experiences rather than just listening to their feedback (actions speak louder than words); and how they’ve risked financial security to continue to grow their market presence (years of building good credit came in handy).

On our way home my mom and I stopped at our local Whole Foods and picked up two flavors of Quinn Popcorn: lemon & sea salt and vermont maple & sea salt. How good do those sound??

I’m torn about whether or not I want to have Baking for Good products on store shelves, as building our online bakery is my top priority, but I loved the YouthTrade event and was inspired by Kristy and Coulter’s story. I’m looking forward to seeing how YouthTrade and Quinn Popcorn (and Baking for Good, of course!) continue to grow.

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