As an accomplished strategic business development, marketing, and operations professional, Kim Bryden has focused her expertise on the food & beverage industry, and supporting small business growth at-large, for more than a decade. Her management experience ranges from working in and alongside governmental agencies, to increasing sales as Top Fortune 200 retail management, to deploying agile, innovative marketing and partnership strategies at food tech start-ups. Since founding Cureate LLC in 2014, Kim continues to build out this multi-sector, public-private partnership approach. Whether its working with Anchor Institutions in Baltimore City on localizing procurement, to reimagining retail experiences for corner store owners to grocery chains, to developing educational entrepreneurship curricula for economic development agencies, Cureate takes a 360-degree approach — and that growth mindset comes from Kim and her passion for learning.
- CEO Hack: Consuming content from my industry and beyond
- CEO Nugget: Develop the skill of active listening
- CEO Defined: (1) Having more ownership of my time (2) Developing businesses that are value-aligned
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the IAMCEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Kim Bryden of cureateco. Kim, it’s awesome to have you on the show.
Kim Bryden 0:38
Thanks so much.
Gresham Harkless 0:40
No problem super excited to have you on and before we jump in, I want to read a little bit more about Kim so you can hear about all the awesome things that she’s doing. And As an accomplished strategic business development, marketing, and operations professional, Kim Bryden has focused her expertise on the food & beverage industry, and supporting small business growth at-large, for more than a decade. Her management experience ranges from working in and alongside governmental agencies, to increasing sales as Top Fortune 200 retail management, to deploying agile, innovative marketing and partnership strategies at food tech start-ups. Since founding Cureate LLC in 2014, Kim continues to build out this multi-sector, public-private partnership approach. Whether its working with Anchor Institutions in Baltimore City on localizing procurement, to reimagining retail experiences for corner store owners to grocery chains, to developing educational entrepreneurship curricula for economic development agencies, Cureate takes a 360-degree approach â€” and that growth mindset comes from Kim and her passion for learning. Kim, are you ready to speak to the IAMCEO community?
Kim Bryden 1:48
Oh my gosh, I’m so ready. Thank you for having me in.
Gresham Harkless 1:51
No problem, super excited to have you on because you’re doing so many different things, and so many phenomenal things to impact, you know, some of these entrepreneurs and business owners. So before we jumped into hearing more about that, I want to rewind the clock a little bit. Can you take us through your CEO story? What led you to get started with your business?
Kim Bryden 2:07
Whoo. Yeah. So I have been in this, this food industry for like you mentioned over a decade now. And it started in government around licensing and regulations. And then I moved into grocery retail, in a management capacity, thinking about how, how and why the reasons people buy and what changes consumer buying behavior, how do you create a business that is up and from the communities you’re a part of, then that experience just led me to really thinking about? How are people engaging with the things that they’re buying and consuming, again, from a food perspective, not just in physical brick and mortar locations, but also online. Obviously, with the advent of technology, social media, people are shopping more with their eyes online. And so that pushed me into the food tech world. And really understanding how technology platforms have created efficiencies, and also opened up a lot of opportunities for more people to be seen and heard with their businesses. And over time, I just started thinking about more and more how companies were being founded and funded and who had access to these amazing opportunities that our our new world has provided for us. And I just hit a point in 2013, the last company I worked for, they had raised a multi million dollars in order to skyrocket their growth. And that was all around a perceived value of what this business could become. I think we’ve heard the traditional story of like, the unicorn, if you will. And I just kept thinking, what, what is this perceived value, and it’s a perceived value by whom and for whom, and a lot of times that value is put on a business based on a subset of investors. Or you might hear like, you’re you’re optimizing your profits for your shareholders. And I just kept thinking, ah, I want to be working with businesses that I don’t know crazy idea, have a business model and care about stable cash flow, what
Gresham Harkless 4:30
would it fucking
Kim Bryden 4:32
I just feel so strongly that food is someone’s heart, on a plate or in a package and also provides such ample opportunities for economic development and growth, to create more agency and purpose in one’s life. And that’s when I left that that last role that I was in and started to write because I just had this fire in my belly of how food could be this really strong economic Jen and actually be again oven from you could create businesses that were oven from your community and that money could circulate back into the local community and local economy in which you’re a part of.
Gresham Harkless 5:14
So I absolutely love that and love you know why you started everything. And I appreciate you for, for listening and paying attention to that fire in your belly and taking those steps in order to do that, because I think so many times we forget, I kind of the power we have in some of the decisions that we make. But I think you’ve taken it, you know, lots of stuff for a pass bad because not only do you recognize that, you recognize the power of food, as you said, but recognize, and are able to kind of educate and empower those people that are starting these businesses and organizations and those companies with the tools in the know how in order to execute on that.
Kim Bryden 5:50
Exactly. We often say curate, you may make jam but not know how to run a jam business. And you come to us, because so much about starting any venture is for sure you have your product or service that is your unique value proposition it is your your main crux of what you do. But there’s all of these other aspects to running a business that isn’t actually about the product you’re selling. And so we really dive deep with the small businesses we work with on the supply side of the coin, like you said, creating this empowered food and beverage supply, what does it mean to actually meet this changing consumer demand? And how do we do that?
Gresham Harkless 6:32
Nice. So yeah, absolutely love that. And so funny, because I think the beginning of the book, one of the books, often references the E myth. And it talks about not pie, but I think it’s not not jam, it was actually pie. And how realizing that running a business is so much more than kind of that pie and, and how most people don’t really understand those aspects. So that’s why I love you know, your business and everything you’re doing, because it takes that, you know, to an entirely different level. So I know you touched on a little bit, and I did as well, when I introduce you, could you take us through a little bit more on how exactly you work with the clients you serve, and how exactly that process goes.
Kim Bryden 7:07
Definitely. So I carry it, we have these three core tenants, and they all work together and sort of funnel into one another. So on that building an empowered supply. That first vertical is called courses. And so we are hired by economic development departments or workforce development, nonprofits, anyone who sees entrepreneurship as a means for job creation, or overall economic growth to a City metro area. And so we run cohorts of entrepreneurs through our curriculum that we’ve created. And again, like we’re talking about the it’s all, it’s all about running the business side of a food business. And we’ve seen over 150 businesses through our programs to date. So that’s been pretty incredible. And over time, graduating different cohorts of businesses, we get a ton of inbound emails ranging from you know, I’m in the farmers market, what’s next? Or maybe I’m in whole foods like now, what do I do? And so we started thinking about, okay, where are these larger areas of opportunity to shift the dollar back into these local small businesses that aren’t maybe the traditional verticals you would think of? So a lot of times when people think about local food, you may think of farm to table in a restaurant or, or that grocery store. So we decided, Okay, if we’re not thinking about restaurants, and we’re not thinking about grocery, who else has a sizable amount of budget for food procurement. And so we started looking at food service in universities, hospitals, pension centers, corporate cafeterias, this other supply chain that a lot of people maybe don’t think about as often. And so that led to this second vertical of our business Connect, curate Connect is our proprietary procurement platform where we become the local purchasing team at these larger anchor institution accounts. So they’ll say anything to us from, we want more vegan products, you know, a very broad ask to something very specific, like we need kombucha and so we then act as that local purchasing team and bring those products into their operations to change up their product mix on their shelf and and ultimately drive sales for everyone, right like this is it we’re not a nonprofit, you know, this is a for profit business and we’re trying to make money for all stakeholders involved. So courses is again building that empowered supply to meet this changing consumer demand that then happens with Connect. And then the last piece of it is consulting. There are different entities who want us to help them reach Imagine their retail experiences. And and think about how I mean, shoot, we’re living in these now times of COVID-19. Right? And so there’s a lot of change happening in how people spend their money and where, and, and what the face of cities or even suburban or rural areas look like. And so we become a part of these different initiatives to reimagine, again, retail experiences and also like food systems at large and, and how can we think about it now going into this next 2020? decade and beyond?
Gresham Harkless 10:39
Awesome, awesome, awesome. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an apple book or a habit that you have. But what’s something that makes you more effective, efficient?
Kim Bryden 10:50
I don’t know if it’s a hack, but it is a thing that I have always done and will continue to do. And that is I don’t, I do not consume content that is just of my industry. And I think it’s really important for everyone to be an expert generalist in a way and understand how, like movements in blockchain or artificial intelligence, or whatever, you might think it’s a completely disparate and disparate industry biodiversity. But so much of our world, obviously, is very interconnected. And so I, I force myself to listen to podcasts, read news articles, find books that are outside of just me staying in food culture world.
Gresham Harkless 11:44
I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO, nugget. So this could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice, it might be something you would tell yourself, you will tell a client or even tell yourself if you were to happen to a time machine.
Kim Bryden 11:55
I guess something past Kim did that is really beneficial for President Kim, is that I think that this developing the skill of active listening cannot be underestimated. And what I mean by that is, oftentimes when you’re in a networking event, or on a panel discussion, or on a podcast, right, like there are so many spaces where you might be thinking about what you want to say next, as opposed to really hearing what the person’s telling you. And this also applies to sales. I mean, the amount of times I have people trying to sell me something, but they’re not actually listening to the problem I have. And so you have to be able to know Yes, like, what is the goal or objective you might be having in that situation, but you need to actively listen to what that person’s problem actually is. Because at the end of the day, like business is about solving problems and having someone pay you for your solution. But But what if the problem they’re having is like, they want to impress their boss, right? And that might, like what does your product or service have to do to help them achieve their goal of wanting to impress their boss, but but they’re not going to flat out say that, you know what I mean, you need to, you need to pick up on those cues in a conversation in order to really feel what is it that the that that person wants in their life? Like what do they define success as and what motivates them?
Gresham Harkless 13:34
I definitely appreciate that nugget. And so now I want to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we’re all gonna have different quote unquote, CEOs on this show. So Kim, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Kim Bryden 13:46
It means personally, having more agency and ownership of my time, and sometimes that that ideal cannot, you know, at times be in contrast with something like financial stability, right? Like you’re, you’re stepping into this one thing you value and it’s possible that these other things are a little bit more askew. But that is something that I personally value a lot. But in the context of running an organization, I feel so strongly that the CEOs of now and in the future need to be developing businesses that are that are so values aligned.
Gresham Harkless 14:29
Awesome, awesome. Well, Kim, truly appreciate that perspective. And I appreciate your time even more, but I wanted to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there’s anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get a hold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you’re working on.
Kim Bryden 14:44
Oh, thanks so much. And truly, I am so eager to chat with anyone who’s listening. You can go to our website which is cureate.co at C U R E A T E.co. That’s also our Instagram handle cureate.co; C U R E A T E. co. And yeah, on the website, you can sign up for the tidbit newsletter that I referenced. It’s also a podcast that you can find on iTunes and Spotify. Just different business lessons learned, ranging from overall entrepreneurship top topics to very specific food industry knowledge so really eager to hear from you and learn about your business endeavors.
Gresham Harkless 15:29
Awesome, awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much again, Kim. We will definitely have the links and information in the show notes and I appreciate you or minutes with the knowledge so that we can arm ourselves and see the change in our in our community. So I definitely appreciate that message and all the awesome things you’re doing and I hope you have a great rest of the day.
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