Upicnic | How-to Startup: Commercial Kitchen Space in NYC – and Incubator!

How-to Startup: Commercial Kitchen Space in NYC – and Incubator!

BY ALP AND MARTA
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3/28/2016

Just about a year ago, Upicnic was still a homeless venture, tossed around by waves of options, just shy of being overwhelmed by entrepreneurial uncertainty. The only compass at our disposal was pointing toward the very basic needs of a tech & food startup: find a commercial kitchen! Sure, insurances, certificates and all the bureaucratic fun that goes along with starting any business were also a big part of our day. But finding actual kitchen space was definitely the biggest challenge.

Here below are the criteria that guided our decision:

Price Point

Renting anything in New York City costs ridiculous amounts of money. Plus, who wants to commit to a multi-year lease when your startup does not follow an established business model but is, in fact, disrupting them all?

Location

We wanted to start by serving all main New York parks and piers, and dreamed to be able of doing so with a few hours time window – it was clear from the start that Upicnic needed a commercial kitchen for rent that was in Manhattan, not in the-middle-of-nowhere borough.

Flexibility

Because our business model was so disruptive and untested, we also needed a facility that could accommodate flexible shifts and hours, so we could test different solutions and experiment what worked best right from the start.

Equipment

If you’ve ever cooked for more than 5 people, you know that commercial kitchen equipment is the key to success. If you have absolutely no other choice, working in batches is the only other option – but that’s a time-draining and soul-sucking solution.

People

It may sound cheesy, but we wanted to work with genuinely good, helpful people in a supportive environment. We started a picnic company with the mission of helping people have fun, slow down and enjoy each other’s company away from every day’s hustle and bustle – so we had to set the example first.    

 

After quite a bit of research we came upon HBK Incubates, which promised all of the above, and more. Right from our first meeting we knew this is where we wanted to be. The staff was super helpful, the application process clear and simple, and their bread beyond delicious.

So what is HBK Incubates? It’s a shared commercial kitchen and business support program in East Harlem run by award winning food business Hot Bread Kitchen – which, by the way, is where all Upicnic breads, chips and crackers come from.

So, yes, stating the obvious, they rent commercial kitchen space at affordable hourly rates, but they also have all kinds of helpful webinars, events and business advisory programs to help entrepreneurs.

On top of that, their breads are pillowy-soft, fragrant slices of heaven and they come with an amazing social enterprise tag, since the Hot Bread Kitchen bakery is a nonprofit that builds lasting economic security for low-income, immigrant and minority individuals by creating pathways to professional opportunities in the culinary industry.

We feel so thankful and so lucky to be a part of HBK Incubates. Finding commercial kitchen space in New York is not easy – finding a culinary incubator is even harder. HBK Incubates seamlessly blends both functions, embracing Upicnic on both the business and human level.

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