Mmmpanadas, a 2016 graduate of the IC² Institute’s FASTForward program, won the grand prize in HEB’s “Primo Picks” competition for up-and-coming Texas-made food products.
The $25,000 grand prize is accompanied by an opportunity to introduce its products to the customers of the retail giant, which operates a chain of over 350 supermarkets across Texas.
Mmmpanadas was founded in 2008 by Kristen and Cody Fields, starting with a single food truck and soon expanding into a frozen food line for their gourmet empanadas. In 2016 they participated in IC²’s FASTForward program in order to develop the skills and strategies to scale up their business.
FASTForward is a 10-week training program for Austin-based small businesses designed to accelerate business growth and maximize profit. FASTForward was developed by the IC² Institute and supported by the City of Austin. Since 2016, 31 small Austin companies have participated in the program from numerous sectors – food, apparel, maintenance services, education, design, arts management, and more.
Kristen Fields credits FASTForward with a big part of Mmmpanadas’ success. “FASTForward gave me the room to learn and grow. And I don’t think I would have won if I hadn’t had the experiences granted to me via FASTForward,” she said.
Another recent FASTForward success story is Garbo’s, which was chosen Best Food Trailer by Austin Monthly readers in the annual Best of ATX poll. Garbo’s sells lobster rolls and other New England cuisine from its two trucks, and was a 2017 graduate of FASTForward.
17 Austin small businesses have completed the second annual FASTForward small business accelerator program. The program was developed and led by the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin and supported by the City of Austin Economic Development Department’s Small Business Program.
FASTForward participants made their final presentations and received a Completion Certificate issued by the IC² Institute on December 4, 2017 in City Council Chambers.
Participating companies were Elevated Evolution LLC; Austin Language Learning School; Emoji’s Grilled Cheese Bar; The Maximus Box; Fandindo Textiles LLC; Got Dirty Blinds? LLC; Your Smart Closet, Inc.; Melissa Borrell Design; Lua Brazil LLC; Tamale Addiction; Garbo’s; Stitch Texas; Sweet Ritual Vegan Ice Cream; Skybridge Academy; Spirit Pieces; Crushing Tigers; and Bright Production Development.
The small businesses, recruited through the minority chambers of commerce and other small business resource organizations, enjoyed the assistance of dozens of experienced community mentors, including MBA students from The University of Texas. Having student involvement has the two-fold benefit of providing the students with real world experience while giving the business owners a fresh, new vantage point.
The FASTForward initiative was created to help address the growth disparity in Austin. On average, women- and minority-owned small businesses do not achieve the same annual revenue and overall growth as the average majority-owned business in Austin. The City’s Economic Development Department is committed to closing that disparity gap.
The IC² Institute is a globally recognized “think and do” component of The University of Texas at Austin whose mission is to engage in cutting-edge research to enhance the solving of unstructured problems related to market economies, wealth creation, growth and prosperity through entrepreneurial activity and the commercialization of technological innovation.
FASTForward has welcomed a new group of 19 local Austin companies into the second year of its small-business entrepreneurship training program.
Participating business owners will spend 10 weeks working to grow their businesses with the help of experts from the IC² Institute and an enthusiastic group of mentors from The University of Texas at Austin and the Austin community.
The IC² Institute’s FASTForward program invites volunteer mentors from the Austin business community to help Austin entrepreneurs take their small businesses to the next level.
FASTForward program information for mentors
The FASTForward program seeks to accelerate the commercial potential for a new [second] cohort of 20 traditional Austin-based enterprises led by a diverse set of entrepreneurs. This 10-week program takes place September through November 2017. Mentors are requested to attend one social event each month to interact with the entrepreneurs. FASTForward entrepreneurs will make quick pitches to mentors for feedback, advice and possible collaboration. The goal for the entrepreneurs is to engage with at least one new mentor at each event to help them as they build a more market-ready commercialization strategy. Mentors are also invited to attend monthly ‘aftercare’ social/community events with FASTForward companies continuing into 2018. At these events the entrepreneurs will report on their activities, progress and engage with a scheduled presenter for wisdom and assistance. The community mentoring events for Cohort 2 are scheduled on 9/28, 10/19, and 11/16 at the IC² Institute, from 6:00-8:00pm.
Information session for mentors on Wednesday, August 16
If you are interested in sharing your expertise with Austin small businesses, please come to our mentor information session on Wednesday, August 16 from 6 to 7:00 PM at the IC² Institute, 2815 San Gabriel St., Austin, TX 78705. Free parking is available.
The inaugural FASTForward small business entrepreneurship course wrapped up on November 30 with pitches delivered in Austin City Council chambers.
Presentations were made by mmmpanadas, Pro Lawn Cut, BASSBOSS, Crudo Terre, ReRoute Music Group, Austin EcoNetwork, Austin Art Services, Li’l Mama’s, It’s Cleaning Time, Concept 2 Conception, and Treasured Earth Foods.
FASTForward is an intensive 12-week program designed to help small Austin business owners grow their revenues by leveraging innovation, creativity and capital to create a unique differential from their competition. It was developed by the IC² Institute together with the City of Austin Economic Development Department.