Craig Chapman had it all going on. His was a simple concept: focus on family, food, culture and history to tell the story of a traditional food dish and the family and culture that brings that dish to life.
And the concept was working. His company, Real Food Real Kitchens, had produced a successful television series that appeared on Hulu, then PBS, featuring amateur cooks and professional chefs preparing favorite family dishes in their own kitchens. He’d produced a Real Food Real Kitchens magazine that virtually sold out at Walmart, Target and elsewhere. And now he was releasing a Real Food Real Kitchens cookbook to an admiring public.
Real Food Real Kitchens had become a very successful brand very quickly and it had a lot of upside. But Craig was at the point where he needed help.
“I could be as creative as I wanted to be and make a really good TV show and more, but I needed more money,” said Craig. “I had invested all of my own money and a lot from family and friends, but growing the business would require more.
“And there was so much I didn’t know. I didn’t’ know how to map out a business plan, I didn’t know how to evaluate and value the different types of businesses Real Food Real Kitchens was involved in and I didn’t know how to produce realistic financial projections for the coming years. And I needed all of that to approach investors and bankers for the investments required for Real Food Real Kitchens to grow.”
That’s when Craig turned to the Florida Small Business Development Center at UCF’s sub-center at Eastern Florida State College.
“The FSBDC was awesome. At first I was hesitant about getting outside help because so many service providers mistook my business for something very traditional, which it is not,” said Craig. “But the FSBDC’s former center director Vicki Peake understood me and understood the business. She helped me visualize the financial opportunity and articulate it for investors. With the FSBDC’s assistance, I was able to envision and describe a grander plan for Real Food Real Kitchens than I had ever imagined.
“I recommend the FSBDC to all entrepreneurs. They gave me hope when I was feeling pretty hopeless. Then they helped me see the promise in my concept and plan for the future, produce meaningful financial projections and obtain the investment I needed. They have changed my mindset. I now think of myself and operate as a small business, not just as a TV producer.”
“Craig is an important success story for the Space Coast,” said Marty Duffy, director of the FSBDC at Eastern Florida. “He’s done what so many of our local businesses need to do. He has identified trends and novel ideas from elsewhere and adapted them to our market. His experience is proof that bringing new ideas and creative approaches works in our community. Clients like Craig help the FSBDC help our other clients take the leap into new growth opportunities.
For more information about the Small Business Development Center, contact Sandy Pfrimmer at (321) 433-5570.