Success stories

Casa Manioca

Casa Manioca is located in London, ON, and sells Brazilian snacks such as croquettes, cheese bread, mini pies and empanadas.

“My family has always been passionate about cooking and hosting, and when my sister moved to Canada, we decided to turn our family recipes into a business. As a small business, we have many challenges every day. The main challenges are finding information on our daily operations, where to purchase equipment, how to find out about regulations for the food business, and how to increase brand awareness of a product not well known in Canada. All the meetings and mentorship we have attended through the Foodpreneur Advantage Program have helped grow our business.”  

Vanessa Rodgher, owner of Casa Manioca

Grape Leaves Food

Jenna’s father started Grape Leaves Food as a restaurant in Windsor. They started making their Middle Eastern garlic sauce over three decades ago. With its increasing popularity, they decided to pivot to manufacturing in 2021.

“We have increased our presence throughout Ontario and strengthened our relationship with our US distributor. We have been going back to our roots and doing in-store demos [and trade shows] since word of mouth has been a great form of advertising for us. The Foodpreneur program has helped us to prioritize what is working well for our business and growing via those channels. It has also helped us make decisions that fit our plan and future goals, not just the industry standard pathways.”

Jenna Skeineh, Owner of Grape Leaves Food

Amazing Bakery

“I would like to thank the London Small Business Centre for putting this Foodpreneur Advantage program in place. It’s a very robust program for small businesses. When I started, I checked many websites for information to support my food business but still needed more. When I enrolled in the Foodpreneur Advantage Scale-Up program, the roundtable sessions provided us a lot of knowledge and exposure in the food sector. We had numerous food experts from regulatory to sales and marketing to success stories engage and support our businesses as we strive for growth. That was tremendously helpful. My monthly one-on-one coaching reviews always motivated me and provided me great support when there were issues to manage. I received terrific advice and accessed other experts to support my business and instill the confidence in me as an entrepreneur to grow Amazing Bakery.”

Funmi Ogunshote, Owner of Amazing Bakery 

Montañeros Coffee

Montañeros are big-hearted and warm people, farmers and coffee growers. They take pride in what they do, live in harmony with nature and love the mountains: their most precious treasure. Co-owners Wilmer Hernandez Palacio and Caterine Arboleda Muñoz grew up on farms in Colombia, learning coffee inside and out from the generations of Montañeros that came before them.

“The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre and Foodpreneur gave us the support, tools and advice to improve every day. It was great to network with other businesses in Windsor and share with each other. It was a wonderful experience that generated a positive impact on our company due to the training received, the people we met there, and the funds they gave us to develop the business.”

Wilmer Hernandez Palacio, Founder of Montañeros Coffee

Cafézia Coffee

“I’ve never been through a business mentorship program before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. But I was blown away by the quality of our mentors, the involvement that the Foodpreneur Advantage program had in my own business, the support, and the connections. I highly recommend it to anyone getting started or is at that next level to scale up their food business. You will connect with people who will help you from the stage and beyond. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.”

Jenna Goodhand, Owner of Cafézia Coffee

Green City Aquaponics

“I believe that you need to learn continuously, and that’s the best way to move forward and what the London Small Business Centre and the Foodpreneur Advantage Program provided me is skyrocketing and catalyzing the learnings I needed in the entrepreneurial world. It can be very scary out there and sometimes you don’t know what you need to know. Participating in the Foodpreneur Advantage program enabled me to truly understand the necessary requirements in a very short period of time.”

Rheece de Veyra, Founder of Green City Aquaponics

Mary’s Mindful Bakehouse

After being diagnosed with an inflammatory condition years ago, and doing a lot of research, Mary started making simple food swaps. By choosing better-for-you ingredients, and making some simple lifestyle changes, the inflammation went away, and her body was able to heal. Mary’s mission is to share their better-for-you baked goods, to help people feel better too.

“The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre (SBEC) and Foodpreneur program have helped us take our products into 13 retail locations. The SBEC has helped from the very beginning from working on our business plan and financials to hiring our first employee. The program really helped with my pitch to land new retailers. I really enjoyed learning from all the businesses that presented, knowing that they started out just like us, and to see how they grew along the way, and apply the learnings to my own business.”

Mary Draper, Owner of Mary’s Mindful Bakehouse

New Leaf Planet Based Food

“We are very excited to expand our company and grow our business to get into a retail market to develop a couple of our different products. The Foodpreneur Program offered us really good solutions. Some roadblocks we had were trying to determine how we get the product to the market. Some experts talk to us about packaging and the certain ways to do it, as well as all of the nutrition label information we are required to have. And that was very enlightening. Over the next year, we hope to continue to develop our products and successfully get the beef burger and one of our sauces into a retail store.”

Andy Coughlin, ower of New Leaf Planet Based Food

Frittos & Co.

“Being part of the scale-up program was a huge opportunity to connect with other entrepreneurs in the food industry, exchange experiences and learn a lot about the most important topics to grow our business. On top of that, the grant helped us to invest in our business, increasing the growth potential.”

Marcelo Braga, Ticiana Braga, and Wallace Franca, founders of Frittos & Co

Cedar Valley Selections

“Our business was launched in 2015 when my son and co-owner, Ameen Fadel, took his idea through the Student Ventures program, administered by the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre (SBC). The SBC’s amazing staff, along with participation in tradeshows, were key to our growth in the industry. Knowing that SBC always had our back was the most reassuring feeling that kept us going. Obstacles? Call SBC. Need to network? Call SBC. Need any business advice, leads or information? Call SBC! We can’t thank the staff enough for all of their support. Every entrepreneur who has reached out to us since our beginning has received the same advice: Contact SBC!”

Surria Fadel, Co-owner of Cedar Valley Selections

Forest City Microgreens

“The London Small Business Centre has been amazing through the Foodpreneur Advantage program. It has given us the ability to connect with experts in the food industry and with other food business owners. There are an incredible number of resources shared that make the process of starting and growing your business smoother because of their knowledge and expertise. The Foodpreneur Advantage program guides you through the necessary steps and helps you challenges you to analyze and plan the growth of your business appropriately.”

Santiago Ramirez, Co-owner of Forest City Microgreens

Lunar Hot Sauce

Currently available in 60 independent retailers in Ontario, and since Jan 2023, available at over 500 TJX Stores (Winners, Marshalls & Home Sense), Lunar Hot Sauce started making small batches at home and started posting photos on Facebook, then our neighbours started purchasing it.

“We realized we’ve got a really good recipe and people started coming back and asking for more. What’s special about our brand is that we actually fermented our sauce for at least 90 days before the cooking process started. The fermentation is not giving people heartburn.”.

Luna MacLeod, Owner of Lunar Hot Sauce

Joanie’s Pastries

“In 2018, Joanie’s Pastries started off by participating at butter tart festivals and local markets, showcasing our amazing gluten free butter tarts.  As word spread and the need for delicious gluten free treats became more evident, our need for space and equipment increased. Our brick and mortar space opened in September 2019 and with our ever growing list of products, we now employ 5 staff and continuously add to our menu. Our Maple Bacon Tarts, Carrot Cake and Cinnamon Buns are among some of our best sellers! I would tell businesses just starting out to use the resources around them. All of those first steps have been walked by past entrepreneurs, so ask the questions, seek advice and learn from those around you. Focus on what you are good at and look for those around you who can help fill in the gaps. The London Small Business Enterprise Centre has been a tremendous support to our business. They have helped us apply for grants to help us work more efficiently. They have generally been a great resource and happily answered all the questions I’ve had.”

Joan Hepburn, Owner of Joanie’s Pastries Gluten Free Inc.

The Hot Sauce Co.

“The Hot Sauce Co. is a straight up, premium hot sauce company. We officially broke onto the scene in March 2020 at the Heatwave Hot Sauce Expo, alongside side dozens of established hot sauce companies. Currently our operations have 1 full time employee and two part time contractors who assist with production of the sauces. We’re a small batch producer and we make all-natural hot sauces with 3 flavours available year-round and new monthly limited-edition flavours to keep things spicy. The London SBC provided my company with access to industry experts and curated education resources one would otherwise have to search for in the sea of information we call the internet. My advice to new businesses would be to trust the process, and stay hungry for more.”

Jesse Long, Founder of The Hot Sauce Co.