Chattanooga’s Consumer Goods Accelerator was launched in summer 2018 by Proof co-founder Mike Robinson and Mia Littlejohn in partnership with regional entrepreneur center, CO.LAB. The program engages business owners and entrepreneurs with pre-packaged food and beverage products to develop, grow, or innovate their product or delivery method.
The 10-week accelerator program covers multiple areas of business and product development, tapping into experts on the Proof team and a network of industry mentors and corporate partners.
“It’s designed for early-stage companies working in the consumer goods sector,” says Tim Moore, Program Manager at Proof. “Participating businesses review and dissect everything from finance and operations to marketing and sales, fundraising for capital, and developing their distribution channels.”
Just Add Spice: Alchemy Sets Out to Grow
Co-owners and brothers John and Henry Oehmig bought Alchemy Spice Company in early 2019. They participated in the Consumer Goods Accelerator’s 2020 cohort, looking to innovate in the consumer goods space.
“Alchemy clearly had a high-quality product that had been validated with its existing customer base,” Moore says. “The Oehmigs wanted a business they could scale and saw potential for their existing business lines.”
Based in Chattanooga since 2003, Alchemy has been making consistent, high-quality products for years with a loyal customer base in the Chattanooga area. Currently, the company offers a consumer product line with 24 spice blends, gourmet salts, and oil infusion bottles distributed through retailers and direct ecommerce. The foodservice arm of the business serves restaurants in Chattanooga with bulk single spices, and the private label and co-packing arm package spice blends for private companies.
Through the accelerator, Alchemy owners sought strategic advice and networking to position the company to reach a larger market. While refreshing their existing branding, labels, and ecommerce site, the Oehmigs connected with mentors and experts who provided strategic direction for tapping into the largest possible market.
“I saw an opportunity with Alchemy to build on the high-quality products and grow our distribution regionally and nationally,” says Henry Oehmig. “We’ve developed new branding and packaging for our consumer products and worked closely with the Proof team and mentors for guidance. We’re really positioning the company for growth into next year.” Through the accelerator, the Oehmigs bounced ideas off Proof specialists and gained valuable contacts in the industry. As a result of that experience, they connected with consultants to build a sophisticated digital marketing and ecommerce platform. They also gained a better understanding of navigating distributor and broker relationships.
“We heard from experts who had really valuable insights and knowledge about each area of our business,” Oehmig says. “Speakers covered a range of topics and let us dive into the weeds, so to speak, asking critical questions that we used to make real-time decisions to build our business.”
Oehmig says the accelerator unlocked industry-specific knowledge and best practices that set Alchemy up to execute on strategies to grow the business.
“We’ve done a lot this year that’s foundational to long-term growth for us — our brand refresh, updated labeling, our ecommerce site, the accelerator program, and moving into a new facility that’s more conducive to our operation,” Oehmig says. “We’re excited to grow our footprint in ecommerce and retail, and our food service side has doubled in the last year as owners and operators seem to be receptive to the value we can deliver. We have incredible momentum across our main business lines, and we’re ready to execute on sales and growth and leverage the work we’ve done.”
Proof Bar & Incubator offers mentoring and guidance through its Consumer Goods Accelerator and Restaurant Recovery programs. Read about our programs and team.