Preserving a family tradition and reaching new heights with Foodpreneur

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre has a long history of supporting the Windsor and Essex County small business community. We are here to offer our support via training programs, complementary consultations, mentorship and access to available financial assistance programs.  

Whether you are just starting your business venture, or are looking to expand, we can help you along the way to realizing your potential. 

The Foodpreneur Scale-Up Program is one of our more popular offerings that is offered twice a year, under the umbrella of Foodpreneur Advantage. This program encompasses a comprehensive 10-week educational series for a select group of businesses that produce consumer packaged goods and have demonstrated high potential to scale operations. Within those 10 weeks, business owners are provided with access to industry experts, customized workshops and peer-to-peer discussion circles. 

Foodpreneur has been a popular program among local business owners. All participants leave with lasting knowledge and the tools necessary to scale their businesses.  

On August 1, we will be accepting applications for our Fall cohort for Foodpreneur Scale-Up. We have marveled at the creativity and tenacity of the entrepreneurs we’ve met over the years and we look forward to assisting a new group and watching them flourish. Our role in facilitating the program in the region has helped local “foodpreneurs” to rise above their competition. Many notable food manufacturers that have completed the program and found great success include Cedar Valley Selections, Zuleeats and Montaneros Coffee

The makers of JP Smitty Sauce, Jason and Laura Gill are another notable entrepreneurial pair who were recent participants in the Foodpreneur program. 

The story behind the sauce is heartwarming and inspiring. It began with a simple family recipe. Gill explained “the recipe is from my wife’s grandmother and dates back to the ‘70s. My father-in-law started making it when she passed away in 1990 in small batches for friends and family.” 

He landed on the name Smitty Sauce and had developed the recipe making slight changes over the years “until he was satisfied he had the perfect blend of ingredients and spices. He passed it on to my wife and I at the end of 2021 in hopes that we would be able to get into as many fridges and backyard barbeques as possible.” Once the business was founded in 2022, the Gills changed the name at once in honour of their father, John Paul Smith. The sauce is now known as JP Smitty Sauce. It is distributed through over 40 retail locations and the Gill family attends as many markets as possible. 

The Foodpreneur program has been beneficial to Gill, “we have met so many amazing people through this program. The guest speakers have all been so relevant to a new business.” Gill added, “Offering so much assistance and guidance making this journey a lot easier. I would 100% recommend to anyone starting out to look into this program.” 

Owning the business has brought much joy to the family. According to Gill “we enjoy the family bond it has created for us. Our two girls, ages 16 and 14 are at the perfect age to help out with production and market events”. Involving the children in the business has allowed for many learning opportunities, “we have tried to include them as much as possible in the purchasing, sales and marketing parts of the business, showing them the rewards and also the struggles of owning a small business.” 

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre sets you on the right path. If you have considered owning your own business, now is your chance. On entrepreneurship, Gill notes “it was always a dream for us to have something we could call our own and though it has not always been sunshine and rainbows, the positives certainly outweigh the negatives.” Gill adds this advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, “take the chance, don’t wait until it’s too late. It offers so much freedom and the rewards are many.” 

Become a client of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre and receive support in launching or expanding your small business, contact us for more information.