The Business of Food

Economic Justice

Food Biz 101 Pitch Competition Winner Announced

Culmination of 12-Week Program For Minority- and Women-Owned Food Businesses

Capping off a 12-week program for minority- and women-owned food businesses, CommonWealth Kitchen and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice announced the winner of the Food Biz 101 pitch competition: Cini’s.  Joe Spagnuolo, the owner of Cini’s, exemplifies the type of business helped through this innovative business accelerator program. Joe grew up and lives in Boston’s North End. He started his business with a desire to share traditional italian food and turn his life around. Joe was serving a two-year sentence in prison when he came up with the idea to start his arancini business. After he was released from prison in May of this year, he has hit the ground running: Cini’s has already developed a logo, packaging, and has been accepted into CommonWealth Kitchen to launch in the next couple months.

Now in its second year, Food Biz 101 is a twelve-week series taught by a dynamic range of industry experts, including pro bono attorneys from Goodwin LLP.  The series guides aspiring entrepreneurs through the complex challenges associated with successfully starting a food business. Technical assistance workshops tackle recipe scaling, cost of goods, labeling regulations, licensing, permitting, marketing, and entity formation.

“The food industry offers tremendous opportunities for people of all backgrounds to build great businesses, bring street life to a neighborhood, and create jobs with few barriers to entry,” said Priya Lane, the Director of the Economic Justice Project of the Lawyers’ Committee. “They’re powerful economic engines for closing the opportunity gap across Massachusetts,” added Ms. Lane.

CommonWealth Kitchen and the Lawyers’ Committee teamed up to successfully pilot Food Biz 101 in 2016, and have now made this unique accelerator a permanent program.  More than 40 applicants competed for 15 spots in the latest cohort, which started in August 2017. The current cohort has an extremely diverse mix of participants, including 60% women and 90% people of color.

Learn more about Food Biz 101 in the Bay State Banner.