Join us for a panel discussion with food business veterans! Topics include access to capital, fundraising strategies, and more.
JORGE GONZALEZ, START GARDEN
Jorge Gonzalez is a Grand Rapidian holding a degree in Public Administration and minors in both Business and Sociology from GVSU, Jorge joined the Start Garden team in 2017 from his 2 year term as Executive Director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Prior to that, he was at LINC UP as the Director of Economic Development for four years and has 15 years of experience in the banking industry. His last banking position was as VP of Community Development from 2005 to 2010. Jorge is currently the Director of Programs and Space at Start Garden.
BRIAN LAI, THE ONLY BEAN
Brian Lai is a first generation Asian American who embraced the entrepreneurial spirit at an early age while helping his parents run their restaurant. He started his first business when he was 14 and after graduating from Michigan State, he spent his early career in marketing, sales, and branding. His families background in the food industry and his passion to build an impactful company led him to create The Only Bean, a plant-based food company using beans to create innovative food products that are sustainable, healthy, and delicious.
HANNAH RAYCRAFT, SPERA FOODS
Hannah Raycraft is very passionate about health and wellness. We each influence our health by what we eat, and healthy, tasty food options are important for our well-being. Hannah has a hope and longing for change in this world’s diet and eating patterns. She believes change can come, and that even one food product like Spera Foods Tiger Nut products can aid in the process. This is why she chose Spera Foods as the name of the company, as ‘spera’ is simply Latin for hope.
KRISTINE YANG, THE ONLY BEAN
Kristine Yang grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan where she was surrounded by a family of food scientists. After graduating from Michigan State, she spent her early years in retail and international business while obtaining her MBA. Her experience in business and curiosity for innovative food products led her to create The Only Bean, a plant-based food company using beans to create innovative food products that are sustainable, healthy, and delicious.
MODERATOR: DEAN SINCLAIR, CPG FARMS