A Fireside Chat with Kim Bryden who talks about supply and demand matchmaking - Cureating the Connection
Submitted by Land Betterment Corporation
Hello – I’m Stephanie Conzelman, stakeholder engagement director with Land Betterment. Recently, I met up with Kim Bryden founder and CEO of Cureate, a social enterprise, women-owned business building an empowered food and beverage supply to meet a changing consumer demand. Kim founded Cureate in 2014 which has quickly become a tested model of supply and demand match-making, connecting a small business supply chain that has been fragmented for too long. We had a lively conversation where I had the opportunity to learn more about the “why” behind Cureate as well as her expansion plans. I think you will find this an interesting read. The full interview can be viewed here.
Q: Kim, please share with us why you founded Cureate.
A: The reason is very specific. It was curiosity! Why do we have to continue operating in ways as we always have with systems that no longer serve us? 8 years ago when I founded Cureate, there was (and still is) a fire in my belly to work with businesses who actually have a stable cash flow and a business model and not just unicorns in the media with multi-million dollar valuations but netting significant loses year over year.
So who are these businesses who are bedrocks of the community generating a lot of economic impact and jobs in their neighborhoods? These are the companies I want to work with. This is the question that sparked the WHY.
Food in particular touches so many of our systems! It’s self-care, history, culture, GDP economics, science and economic development. As a marketer and story teller at heart, I see food as someone’s heart on a plate. As a consumer you can use your dollars as a way to invest every day. For me, there is a story and a mission and I want to spread that word that you have that power every day.
Q: Originally Cureate was based in the mid-Atlantic region and about a year ago you expanded into northwest Arkansas. Can you share more information with us about this expansion and future expansion plans?
A: Yeah certainly! Why the HEARTLAND?
Half of our business is working with local purchasing anchors such as universities, hospitals and convention centers - helping them to shift their purchasing dollars to small local businesses. And the other half of our business is working with small local businesses to build better business practices. So supply and demand matchmaking or dare I say Cureating the Connection!
Prior to Covid, I was already thinking about how we were going to expand outside of DC and Baltimore and Covid accelerated that. The purchasing side of our business took a hit, so I decided to get in the car and drive west and learn more about the Heartland. I scheduled interviews and met with amazing people along the way to include small town mayors and breweries and other entities to learn how different people were adapting and innovating during a pandemic. By the time I got to Missouri, I was hearing loud and clear from the Heartland and almost with defiance that people are staying open and keeping it going.
Once I arrived in northwest Arkansas where brands such as JB Hunt, Walmart and Tyson are headquartered, I began learning about their campaigns to attract people who had recently relocated to work in the area. I wanted to know how these large companies planned for economic development to increase local and regional food systems. People want to feel connected to place and I wanted to know how they planned to create that connection. We then aligned with partners in the area. Forge, the oldest revolving loan fund in Arkansas with roots in agriculture, is one of our partners and through this relationship, we were recruited to have our second hub in northwest Arkansas. From there, we opened our Cureate Courses 1.5 years ago with 20 business participating. Today we have 3 more cohorts with an additional 30 business coming on board next year.
Q: I read a quote on your LinkedIn page as follows "Not only are we creating sales opportunities for #smallbiz, but also sparking joy for staff and guests with new, unique offerings inside their place of work." Can you tell us more about this?
A: This is anchored in the purchasing side of our business. Recently there has been a shift in the way businesses such hospitals, universities and convention centers are re-thinking what they are buying. Theses spaces want to have an association with food which could be tied to sustainability initiatives or diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
People are beginning to realize and be more aware of local money coming out of their communities and going to large far away corporates. One multi-national buying from another multi-national. So often folks can feel devoid of that community connection because they are not buying local.
On the other side, the food industry at large has experienced massive staffing shortages. So for the small business owner who potentially saw a reduction in foot traffic, they could have a dedicated audience and sales opportunity if they were imbedded into one of those systems like a corporate office, hospital, or convention center. We tried to figure out the need for uniqueness of product while imbedding the small into these large spaces. We created pop-ups where these small business brought their food into the large organizations and now there is variety and connection to community that was not there before.
Q: I am curious to learn more about Cureate Connect. This summer you shifted $30,000 alone through only pop-up hot bar takeovers and staff appreciation events back into the #local #community with your buyer partner University of Maryland Medical Center. I would love to hear more about Cuerate's community involvement.
A: The University of Maryland Medical Center has been a buyer partner of ours since 2018 and is an incredible ally committed to shifting their dollars back into the local community. This summer we started a pop up series in the medical center where we brought in local food companies into the hospital. This was a unique opportunity to featured small businesses inside a big businesses. Sometimes it’s really hard to leave your place of work because of time constraints, so we brought local food businesses into these larger organizations. This is a win-win situation for both – brining new and good food and making the employees feel cared for while eating local.
Kim is a true connecter or shall we say, Cureate Connect.
Q: Land Betterment is led by a team of entrepreneurs and is doing things differently very much like you. What excites you most about being an Independent Director of Land Betterment?
A: 100% - The Land Betterment team and I bonded around the WHY. Things can be done differently and both our organizations are doing just that. It’s not just their entrepreneur spirit however that excites me, but also the facets of the business such as E- Zone and the new businesses they have created from previous industries that no longer exist. We need to think about new business models, for what spaces look like now. That work force development component is really interesting for me – the coupling of work force and economic development and food companies. All this really aligns with Cureate and who I am.
Cureate is in the mid-Atlantic and now the Heartland. I think Appalachia (where much of Land Betterment’s work is focused) is the next frontier where we can work with the community and find out what the new industry looks like. I am so excited that Land Betterment is on the forefront of those conversations.
About Cureate and Kim Bryden
Cureate is a for profit, woman-owned, mission-driven small business that is building an empowered food & beverage supply to meet a changing consumer demand. We exist to build interconnected, economically-vibrant communities. Our focus is on the food & beverage industry across the value chain, which deeply touches all of our lives, and where there is an immediate need to change how we do business-as-usual. For more information about Cureate visit www.cureate.co or connect with us on Instagram and Facebook.
Kim Bryden has consulted 300+ small businesses on growth strategy, building out diversified revenue streams, and identifying new market opportunities. In addition to her commitment to small business growth at-large, Kim’s expertise has led her to develop multi-sector, public-private partnerships across industries such as governmental agencies, food tech start-ups, and top Fortune 500 retailers and foodservice operators. Kim is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a member of the Sandbox Network, and an advisor to Fair Farms Maryland. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Digital Media Management and Analytics from Georgetown University and a BA in Public Communication & Spanish from American University.
About Land Betterment Corporation
Land Betterment Corporation, an Indiana Benefit Corporation and Pending B-Corp, is an environmental solutions company focused on fostering a positive impact through upcycling former coal mining sites to create sustainable community development and job creation. The Company utilizes a complete solution-based lifecycle program to restore and rehabilitate the environment and revitalize communities in need of change and opportunity. Land Betterment accomplishes this by identifying un-reclaimed, run-down and neglected coal mining sites, fixing the environment through reclamation and remediation, and then repurposing the land to support a sustainable business that serves the community. Land Betterment firmly believes that with real solutions it is possible for restoration of impacted areas to live side-by-side long term employment, while building sustainable and safe surroundings for communities and our planet. For more information visit landbetterment.com or connect with the Company on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
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Land Betterment Corporation, an Indiana Benefit Corporation, is an environmental solutions company focused on fostering a positive impact through upcycling former coal mining sites to create sustainable community development and job creation. The Company utilizes a complete solution-based lifecycle program to restore and rehabilitate the environment and revitalize communities in need of change and opportunity. Land Betterment accomplishes this by identifying un-reclaimed, run-down and neglected coal mining sites, fixing the environment through reclamation and remediation, and then repurposing the land to support a sustainable business that serves the community. Land Betterment firmly believes that with real solutions it is possible for restoration of impacted areas to live side-by-side long term employment, while building sustainable and safe surroundings for communities and our planet.
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