CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (April 15, 2021) --- Two Chattanooga-based organizations, BrightBridge Capital and Proof Incubator, are collaborating to serve new and existing businesses in the food and beverage industry and consumer packaged goods small manufacturers.
BrightBridge Capital announced that the nonprofit economic development agency will serve as a partner and content provider for Proof Incubator which focuses on “education, innovation and acceleration for talented owners and operators in the rapidly growing food and beverage industry”.
“We know Mike Robinson and his team and recognize the good work they have been doing in the hospitality sector, especially through their Restaurant Recovery program,” said Bill Pollard with BrightBridge.
While Proof operates a brick-and-mortar space for rotating restaurant concepts from local chefs, the key component of their offerings is programming. Proof provides a fast-paced curriculum that guides operators through all components of business, managing supply chain issues and cash flow, to pricing out menus, to health code updates. Operators receive one-on-one coaching with Proof’s team members, who bring a collective 100 years of industry experience.
Proof currently works with regional economic development partners, such as Chambers of Commerce, entrepreneur centers, and SBDC offices, to bring programming to businesses in individual markets.
Robinson said, “Because accessing capital is a common need for the clients we serve, this partnership is a natural fit. We have developed financial modeling tools to help our clients manage costs and track expenses, which not only helps operators to be profitable, but it also improves their ability to qualify for funding.”
Through their partnership, BrightBridge will instruct Proof’s clients on how to access the different types of capital that are available, including from traditional lenders and investors, and will also serve as a provider of non-bank funding for those who cannot obtain conventional financing.
Robinson continued, “In addition to our direct partnership and providing program content, we recognize that BrightBridge can help us to enter other markets in Tennessee, North Alabama and North Georgia since these markets are in their service area and they already have contacts. We anticipate that demand for our program will grow, especially as the restaurant industry continues to emerge from the pandemic.”
While Proof always planned for the expansion of their programming, the pandemic put Proof in a unique spot to grow quickly. Since March 2020, they have hosted courses in Chattanooga, Knoxville, the Tri-Cities area and Cookeville, and plan to launch offerings in North Georgia, Alabama, and Central and West Tennessee.
“Proof was created well before the pandemic; operators in the food and beverage industry have long needed resources beyond one-off entrepreneurship seminars,” said Robinson. “While we can’t be certain when the chaos of the pandemic will fade, Proof will continue to provide valuable offerings to support the ongoing needs of food and beverage operators.”
Tiffany Pauldon-Banks, owner of Lil Mama's Chicago Style Hoagy in Chattanooga, went through Proof’s program in 2020 to plan for her launch earlier this year. Proof assisted her with building out operating procedures for employees and food cost analysis, and Proof was ultimately able to help her lower her food costs.
“So many things in the industry that come up are unexpected, but I knew with that Proof, I had someone to call to say ‘Hey, this is what I’m experiencing’ and ask if it’s normal and if they can help me,” said Pauldon-Banks. “It’s given me a great sense of confidence because now when I’m making decisions for the restaurant, I have an opinion from someone who is experienced and gone through what I am now.”
ABOUT BRIGHTBRIDGE CAPITAL
BrightBridge Capital is a private, non-profit economic development agency. BrightBridge works in partnership with local, state and federal governments, community banks and private lenders to provide affordable financing for businesses. For more information, visit www.BrightBridgeInc.org.
ABOUT PROOF INCUBATOR
Proof is an accelerator, incubator, and bar based in Chattanooga, TN. Founded and led by food and beverage industry veterans, the mission of Proof is to support owners and operators in the industry through programs, resources, and community. Collectively the Proof team has 50+ years of experience, with expertise ranging from management training to operations to marketing (and more). To date, Proof has supported more than 150 businesses through its programs. Learn more about Proof at www.proofincubator.com.