Q&A with Food Business Certificate Program Instructor, Jennifer Goggin
Jennifer Goggin has been a food entrepreneur and advisor in the food-tech space since 2010. She co-founded FarmersWeb, an online marketplace where wholesale buyers source local products directly from the farm and streamline logistics, delivery and payments.
Previously, she was the director of operations for Basis Farm to Chef, a local food distributor in New York. She has been a featured panelist and moderator for conferences on entrepreneurship and the food technology industry, as well as a columnist for Food Tech Connect and Huffington Post Food. Jennifer is a board member of Slow Food NYC where she works on its Snail of Approval committee to recognize restaurants, bars and markets that contribute to the quality, authenticity and sustainability of the New York City food supply. This spring, she will be teaching our new Food Business Certificate Program (formerly known as Food Entrepreneurship Boot Camp).
Tell us about your experience in the food industry.
My start in the food industry was running operations for a small, locally-focused food distributor. That meant learning about everything from warehouses and logistics, to coordination between suppliers and salespeople, to business development and new product lines. From there I went on to co-found a food tech company that initially was a marketplace for local farms and wholesale buyers, then pivoted to be online business management software for those local farms to use with all of their wholesale customers. That experience gave me an even deeper understanding of all the moving parts involved with buying and selling local and regional food through many channels. I have also been involved with Slow Food NYC for the past few years, serving on its Snail of Approval committee. This committee helps restaurants and food establishments source local and sustainable ingredients and market themselves as such to diners in the city.
What do you wish you'd known before you started FarmersWeb?
That being an entrepreneur doesn’t end when you launch your business. Having a deep understanding of your model, the market, and how to make incremental adjustments along the way is key to driving success. I had to learn how to be prepared for the many changes my business went through from its inception to even during our first year. We spent a lot of time and energy responding to feedback from our users, which made the product much stronger in the end. We designed this course at NGI to give new entrepreneurs the framework to understand their own businesses and prepare for the many opportunities and obstacles that face all new concepts. Learning on the job is inevitable and accompanies growth, but having knowledge going into the start is invaluable.
How does the Food Business Certificate Program help someone launch their business?
There are a lot of moving pieces that an entrepreneur needs to understand when launching a business, and it’s unlikely that anyone possesses all the various skills from the beginning. This course gives new entrepreneurs the tools they need to understand each aspect — from finances and projections to sales and operations to the nitty gritty of legal and regulatory requirements — and a clear path forward to growth and scale.
Who should take this program? Anybody with a food business or product idea that they want to turn into reality, or even someone who already has a prototype running or product developed but needs help turning it into an organized and (economically) sustainable business.
What will students take away from this program?
Students will come away with a basic understanding of financials, sales, operations and marketing as they pertain to their particular business model. They will also develop a roadmap to moving forward post-boot camp, along with a list of resources and hopefully advisor and mentor relationships that will develop naturally throughout the class.