Leveling-up Food Entrepreneurship in our City of Gastronomy through Technology, Training, and Tourism
The Startup Food Accelerator is a free, food business program for existing and aspiring food entrepreneurs. We offer training in early-stage food business development including sustainable business operations, food safety, food costing and financial literacy, small business marketing and communications strategies, permits and licensing and more.
Courses include both in-person and online modules as well as one-to-one mentorship and coaching.
This 10 week program runs from late September - early November
Weekly class sessions taught by food industry experts
Interactive peer learning with a cohort of 15-20 fellow emerging food business owners.
Dedicated 1-1 mentorship sessions with experienced food business experts.
Participation in the annual showcase to meet industry stakeholders
Participation in IdeaFunding with a chance to win $5,000 for your business
Access to all of the Startup Tucson Network Membership benefits
Only 14% of regional agricultural producers and value-added food entrepreneurs have a modern eCommerce website set up. Building your online presence and also creating opportunities for direct-to-consumer purchases can help increase revenues and improve your business. However, developing, launching and maintaining a website can be intimidating for many entrepreneurs.
As part of this program, supported by the USDA, our partners at BRINK Media will be building 30 free websites for agriculturally-related business. Our team will walk you through the whole process and provide you with the training you need to successfully maintain the site.
We build it, you maintain it. The goal of the website is to build you something that is very easy to hand over and have you maintain on an ongoing basis. We will provide you with training and technical support so that by the time we hand it over fully to you, you feel confident about how to maintain it moving forward. We have partnered with Wix, which we have found is the most user friendly platform that also includes robust eCommerce options.
12 month hosting and domain are included for free. If you are accepted, we will pay for not only the build but also a full 12 months of hosting, a Premium Business account, and your domain ($324.00/yr). We have partnered with Wix for this project so that your price after the 12 months will be lower for as long as you choose to keep the site. After 12 months, you can choose to take over the build and it will be $243.00/yr.
Custom but not unlimited: This website is meant to be a launch pad for your growth. It will be customized to your look and feel and needs however there will be some parameters about what can and cannot be built under the program. The process will include consultations, edits, training, and also support developing your copy and photography/videos.
Virtual tour of gastronomy
As part of the current project, we will be creating an online platform that connects consumers with local food producers.
This user-friendly site, will leverage marketing dollars and drive traffic to producers sites. Consumers will have a one-stop-shop to access local products.
In future years, we would like to see this platform continue to grow into an interactive "Virtual Regional Gastronomy Trail" to encourage not only sales, but also stimulate tourism.
University of Arizona Department of Agricultural Education, Technology and Innovation
If you would like to contact the project team,
please email Channing Stirrat at
Funding for this project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant GRANT13114986. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.