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Founders

Company

The Batata Shop

Detroit, MI 48221

Tawnya Clark

What educational, entrepreneurial, or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
I graduated from Bizdom U in August, 2008. I was in the inaugural class of the Bizdom U program which at the time was a two-year program. During this time I research a number of business concepts including Local Root Market (LRM), which was going to be a market which sold local produced foods and products and TYCA (Thank You Come Again), which was going to be a multi-retailer loyalty program- the CVS card for multiple local independent retailers.

I am also participating in FoodLab Detroit: Good Food Business Plan Bootcamp between January and March.

Who was your first customer?
The Batata Shop's first customer was Midtown Detroit Inc. We catered there quarterly business owner meeting on Dec. 7 at TechTown. We served a group of 25-30 attendees Batata waffles- with pecan cinnamon butter spread and agave nectar, a fresh fruit bowl, orange juice, water, coffee/tea. It was a great experience.

Where did you find them?
I had met with Scott Benson of Midtown Detroit Inc. in November 2011 to discuss The Batata Shop concept and tour retail space available throughout the Midtown Detroit area. After that meeting I dropped off a sample of Batata waffles and soon after Scott contacted me to cater the event in December.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
The Batata Shop capital thus far as been from family and friends. Upon completion of the FoodLab Detroit Business Plan Bootcamp, The Batata Shop will have its completed business plan and begin reaching out to the community for capital. This will include a crowd funding campaign with Detroit Big F Deal in April, a micro-loan from Thrive Detroit, and submission into the Hatch Detroit 2.0 competition.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
Detroit is ripe with opportunities which some people call challenges. It has plenty of real estate with great potential and creative/innovate entrepreneurs working in a multitude of areas such as technology, renewable energy, art, architecture, retail, music and food. Also, there are a good number of entrepreneurial programs, foundations, business associations, and philanthropist that are working to build a thriving Detroit. These groups want to connect to hard-working, determined, passionate people with great ideas who want to be apart of the Detroit’s comeback.

There is a strong supportive entrepreneurial community. Groups like Open City Detroit, Detroit Startup Drinks, Metro Detroit Good Food Entrepreneurs, and D:hive just to name a few. In addition, I have found business owners throughout the city to be one of the greatest resources. They are willing to meet  with you and discuss your concept(s) and mentor you through the process of starting a business. I recently interned at Cliff Bell's for three weeks thanks to owner Paul Howard to gain hands on experience of running a restaurant. Paul and his team remain available to me for any further assistance I may need with The Batata Shop.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business here?
I would enthusiastically tell them to just do it. Get out and connect/network with Detroit entrepreneurs and business community. I'm finding many entrepreneurs and Detroit business owners are open to all types of collaborations, so get creative. Also, listen to their stories of how they started and why the do what they do here in Detroit. It's inspiring. Also, don't count on the images and news from mainstream media to understand what is going on here. We are a friendly bunch and we love connecting each and fostering success because we all want to create a thriving Detroit.

What do you see in Detroit that other people who live outside the area don't?
I see people of all generations, cultures, and backgrounds working together to create a new Detroit. I see business owners who share their time and experience with those willing to work hard to create something positive for Detroit. I see retires working in education programs to share the experience and knowledge. I see a growing food culture and social-entrepreneurial community growing here with a real sense of pride for a city and area they love. I see friendly, happy, determined  people willing to take on the opportunities (challenges) facing the city and the state to make it a successful cool place.

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