Incu-Baking the Ingredients to Fuel Michigan’s Food Economy

By Lauren Ebelt on April 7th, 2013 / Comments

It all started in 2010 when Marcy Bishop Kates had the idea of becoming a caterer. The Michigan native searched for a commercial kitchen to utilize for her catering venture, but was running into obstacles. She looked at a few different options before turning to a local business advisor, who introduced the idea of the company you see today: Incu-BaKe, LLC. Based in Holt, MI, Incu-Bake is a shared-use commercial kitchen that produces some delicious results.

Incu-BaKe, LLC, was founded in 2011 by Kates and her husband with a little bit of effort and a leap of faith. Incu-BaKe offers a unique range of incubator services for small businesses, which includes a 2000+ square foot kitchen, stainless steel work tables, a 200 square foot smoker room (with a built-in smoker), storage space, and 100 square feet of retail and office space. Incu-BaKe, with the help of Kates’ history in education, non-profits, and government, helps their clients follow their dreams. Incu-BaKe has over 40 alumni to the program—and counting! At any one time, this innovative business venture has 15-20 active clients.

It’s easy to see why Incu-BaKe has had great success over the past few years: the process is simple, but effective.

Incoming clients are invited to Incu-BaKe for an initial consultation, free of charge. There, they meet with Kates to discuss their idea for their small business. Past clients of Kates have graduated to create the latest packaged food products, become caterers, teach cooking classes, and sell at local markets. If you have a dream of opening a food-related business, Kates is here to help.

Kates walks her clients through the licensing process, and helps connect them to local businesses related to their product, such as the MSU Product Center or the Michigan Small Business Technology & Development Center. Kates takes care to move at the clients pace to get their business off the ground, which is an integral part of the process. No rushing means the clients get the care and guidance they need from Kates, and the end product that consumers love.

Once the clients are ready to begin producing, they have a licensing visit at Incu-BaKe, and then can rent out the incredible space the company offers. Kates takes the teaching a few steps further and assists with social media, connections to farmers and markets, stores, and retail outlets.photo of mitten munch trail bars

Kates’ love for her work shows. “I am so proud of the clients who have been with me for an extended period,” she says. “All of my good memories are centered around the clients who are 100% dedicated to turning out a safe, quality product.” One of those clients includes Mitten Munch, a maker of trail mix bars, who just opened a production facility. Learn more about Mitten Munch and their tasty product at www.mittenmunch.com.

Kates’ help is just part of the equation of success, as she is sure to point out. “Realize how hard it can be, and how much money it can cost,” Kates says to new small business owners. “Have faith in yourself…support other small businesses. Lift each other up, don’t cut each other down.”

She gives great advice because she knows—for years Kates has worked as an AmeriCorps Program Officer for Michigan. Programs within AmeriCorps helped her realize how important food culture was to community, and how badly there needed to be a place like Incu-BaKe that would help support those in the food community. As a caterer and party planner herself for six years, Kates’ expertise is a perfect fit with Incu-BaKe’s mission, and with the various clients it serves.

Expertise, a lot of great space, a bit of innovation, and a local mentality—those are the keys to success for this company, because Incu-BaKe is more than just a shared-use commercial kitchen. It’s the beginning of an opportunity. “I believe that small business’ and the local food movement will help revitalize Michigan,” Kates says. “We have amazing people here, and I’m honored to work with so many of them.”

To learn more about Incu-BaKe, please visit their website at www.incu-bake.com.

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About the Author

Lauren Ebelt

Lauren is a recent graduate from Michigan State University. She likes traveling, blogging about the food she eats, and correct grammar.