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Hip Chick Farms, Sebastopol

BACKGROUND
Hip Chick Farms makes hand-crafted, delicious frozen chicken fingers, chicken meatballs, chicken wings and chicken stock, with all-natural, sustainable ingredients and practices. Hip Chick Farms was created from Chef Jen’s Johnson’s love of food and family, and offers family friendly solutions for lunch and dinner time.

Chef Johnson has served as the Executive Private Chef for Ann & Gordon Getty in San Francisco for the last 11 years, cooking for President Obama, celebrities and Bay Area personalities. Prior to working for the family, she worked at the legendary Chez Panisse for ten years alongside amazing chefs and visionary, Alice Waters.

Fresh, all-natural, sustainable – these are just a few of the qualifiers that are required when choosing the ingredients used in their products. Hip Chick Farms has been working closely with Sonoma County farmers to create lasting partnerships that support the local economy and ensures their ingredients are the best the county has to offer.

Hip Chick Farms uses pasture-raised, humanely treated chickens. All of the chickens used are grown naturally with plenty of room to roam in a thoughtful environment on family farms. The chickens are fed a high quality vegetable diet with no animal by-products or additives.

The all-natural product line uses whole chickens and creates no waste.  There are no hormones, antibiotics, or filler in the products. Freezing them ensures quality and purity. For more information on Hip Chick Farms food, go to www.hipchickfarms.com.

CHALLENGES
We were confused by certifications, requirements and licenses. We needed help refining our business plan and strengthening our financial projections. We did not understand UPC coding, how to work with markets and how distributions works! We needed a lot of help!

Business Advisor Anni Minuzzo provided the help Serafina & Jen needed. Since the business involves poultry, this brings in the necessity for securing or setting up a USDA-certified commercial kitchen; finding an existing facility that will accept contract production is difficult. Setting up their own production plant will be expensive and will take time; making the products organic is yet another hurdle to cross as these certifications require yet more money as well as time.

ACTIONS
We took a class from SBDC and received mentoring from Annie Minuzzo while we were in start-up mode. SBDC offered a class on the exact topic we needed help with, called “From Kitchen to Market”. Annie taught us about navigating the world of the food industry, distribution, and gave us insider tips we could not receive elsewhere. After the class, we met one-on-one to review our business plan and answer questions. She helped us to strengthen our financial projections, and make some important decisions on direction.

The clients felt certain they could combine their own resources with additional funds from friends and family members to get the start-up and working capital they would need. Anni stressed the vital importance of a well-researched feasibility/business plan to both create clarity around market awareness and cash flow expectations as well as to demonstrate their ability to generate sufficient sales to become a profitable and sustainable business.

RESULTS
Serafina & Jen presented an initial business plan draft to which Anni made comments and suggestions for some edits and changes – essentially recommending succinct text and  financial projections reflecting first five years with assumptions accompanying each year. 

In addition to starting their business, Hip Chick Farms launched a crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/953269395/hip-chick-farms-for-the-love-of-food-and-family to promote the company, the products and to garner backers.

Kickstarter allows start-up companies like Hip Chick Farms to raise much-needed capital through friends, family and supporters. The campaign promotes the local economy by supporting small businesses via non-traditional funding sources.

Hip Chick Farms received $25,308 from 114 backers to meet their goal of raising $25,000 by the April 12, 2012 deadline.

“Annie was informative, helpful and supportive. She pushed us to consider elements we had not thought of, which was very helpful in developing our business model.”

Hip Chick Farms, Inc.
Serafina Palandech and Jennifer Johnson
707-861-9010
serafina@hipchickfarms.com
www.hipchickfarms.com