Erin Vranas, who owns Parthenon Gyros with her husband Dimitri, is a longtime client of the Small Business Development Center at UW-Madison (SBDC). She attended SBDC’s Entrepreneurial Training Program and completed a business improvement plan for Parthenon Gyros in 2017. Now, she’s working with SBDC consultant Anne Inman on the business plan for her new venture, Yips Yogurt Chips.
“My primary purpose in enlisting the help of SBDC is to develop my business plan—a living, breathing document,” Vranas says. “I’m hoping, with SBDC on my team, that I’ll be able to evolve this document and that SBDC can help me create more connections as the business continues to grow.” Inman has helped Vranas prioritize and establish industry connections.
“Consulting with Anne has helped to provide a roadmap of where and when to focus attention,” says Vranas. “Starting a business can get very overwhelming, so it’s nice to have a sounding board. If I have questions, Anne will answer them, find the answer, or point me to someone else who can answer them.”
Inman has provided Vranas with reports to help with primary market research. “She also participated in my secondary market research, when I was sending out product and collecting feedback on it,” says Vranas. “She also helped me with the format of my survey, so I could apply it.”
Inman checks in regularly via email for updates and alerts Vranas to industry-related news and opportunities. “It’s great to have an accountability partner,” Vranas says. “I’m a learner at heart, so every experience helps me become more well-rounded in business and as a person. Anne helps me put the pieces together, step by step, with clarity.”
In addition to SBDC, Vranas has leveraged UW-Madison resources like the Discovery to Product initiative, the Center for Dairy Research, and the Food Research Institute.
“Cecily Brose has been an awesome mentor and connected me with Tera Johnson from the Food Finance Institute,” Vranas says. Brose is an Innovation and Commercialization Specialist at UW-Madison Discovery to Product with over 20 years of product and packaging experience in the consumer product industry. “We’re not looking for financing yet, but I do have that as part of my strategy, once we need to do an investing round.”
Vranas met with Food Research Institute staff to get her questions about food science and food safety answered and appreciates knowing she can continue to reach out to the institute with questions going forward. Vranas has also met with staff at the UW-Madison Center for Dairy Research, where Turbo Program Technology Commercialization Manager Vic Grassman helps entrepreneurs in the dairy industry get their products to market. Read more …
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