The Small Business Mentoring Service works closely with business operators to ensure their business has the best opportunity to survive. This case study discusses an innovative idea to assist food businesses in Melbourne.
After a successful 20-year corporate career, Jane Del Rosso took up studies in commercial cookery at William Angliss TAFE. Jane the spent 10 years working in hospitality, mostly wholesale and retail catering, before she began gathering funds to set up her own business.
It soon became clear to Jane that food businesses needed resources that were expensive to set up. It also became harder for those in the cottage industry to produce from home when tougher food regulations were set in place. Jane discovered the concept of a kitchen incubator when she researched a US business called Kitchen Chicago. She decided to set up her own incubator in Melbourne after she discovered there wasn’t anything similar in Australia.
She established a company, My Other Kitchen as a one-stop creative space suitable for retail or wholesale food businesses, caterers and cooking teachers. Any businesses that were too small or couldn’t afford their own kitchen can now use Jane’s commercial facilities to cook and serve their products. The company was registered in September 2008 and opened its doors in 2009.
My Other Kitchen offers networking, workshops, referrals, business planning and event management in a purpose-built modern kitchen that is well equipped and standards compliant. Commercial cooks and caterers also hire the facility to produce food, conduct classes, train staff, hold team building exercises, photograph food, test products, develop recipes and conduct product demonstrations.
”We’re passionate about all things food, and have the know-how, experience and industry contacts to help others develop their business. Or they can just hire our kitchen…it’s up to them,” Jane explains. “Many of our clients are passionate about their food, but unless they have a business plan and help with setting goals and how to achieve them, most stay small and struggle to find their market.”
With this understanding, Jane is working with SBMS to help her business grow so that she can continue to help others. With revenue and exposure growing, Jane is confident My Other Kitchen and its clients can do well. With help from SBMS, she feels even more confident.
“It’s nice to know that you are not reinventing the wheel and that there are those that have been through it before that are willing and able to help – you just need to ask,” she says. “I’m looking forward to working with David Gregory (CEO of SBMS) to the betterment of My Other Kitchen and my clients.”
The business still faces a number of challenges such as keeping their costs as low as possible. Jane genuinely wants her clients to succeed. Rather than employ people, Jane has outsourced particular activities like bookkeeping, accounting and marketing to other small businesses with this expertise.
David Gregory says Jane’s concept is “amazing” and has huge potential. He has also offered all businesses at My Other Kitchen a membership in TSBI and SBMS mentoring at its reduced rate.