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    Brian Wallace, President and Founder of NowSourcing, Inc. wants Louisville to stop thinking small and start getting competitive with other cities. He feels Louisville is falling behind the times and advancements of others cities like Nashville and St. Louis.

    “Why can’t we do better?” Wallace wants to know. Back in August, he organized the first #ThinkBig event to get people talking to each other, sharing ideas, and starting actions. The first #ThinkBig was a success, and is now a series of events. This time, Biran Wallace’s vision was to go deep into one specific topic – food (a topic near and dear to my heart).

    On Wednesday night, November 19, Brian and NowSourcing hosted the second installment of the #ThinkBig series, #ThinkBig: Food Edition, focusing on food industry and technology. Representatives from the food industry, entrepreneurs, investors, food enthusiasts and people who love Louisville all gathered to share and create actionable steps for a bigger, better city.   A panel of guest speakers from the food industry shared food trends and offered help to those others looking to grow their businesses.

    Brian Scantland, VP Development of Planning & Performance Improvement at Long John Silver’s said, “I can’t think of anywhere in the world where you’d rather have a startup as it relates to food.” Louisville is the headquarters for many restaurants such as Yum! Brands, Long John Silver’s and Papa John’s. Scantland and Charles St. Clair, Former CMO of Long John Silver’s, agree the larger food corporations often can’t grow smaller ideas because of time and resource constraints. This gap opens up opportunities for partnerships with startups and smaller companies.

    “How do you get the meetings with the big companies?” asked an audience member.  “Folks here are pretty friendly. There's a bias to help folks,” said Brian Scantland. A benefit of the Louisville culture is Louisville folks are approachable. So Brian’s advice is to just…ask.

    Another panel member, Alicia Kelso, Senior Editor at Net World Media Groups, spoke on the need for Millennials to know what they are consuming. They need to know where their food comes from and that’s driving food companies to be more transparent.

    But it’s not just Millennials wanting to know where their food is grown. Krey Keeney, Purchaser of local a specialty produce at Creation Gardens has seen continued growth in his business delivering local produce to local restaurants. People want to consume locally grown vegetables and fruit. Keeney said he even delivers to chains like Cracker Barrel and P.F. Chang’s.

    The growth in the fast-casual restaurant concept, (think Chipotle or Blaze Pizza) is another trend Alicia Kelso has noticed. Customers want to be in control and customize their food. Several restaurants (such as McDonalds) want in on the fast-casual market and are testing concepts.

    After the panel answered a few questions from the audience, the floor was open for a few local startups to introduce themselves.  Jeremiah Chapman, Founder of FreshFry, LLC has invented a pod that extends the life of frying oil. He’s a finalist for the 2014 Vogt Awards and is looking for connections in the restaurant industry to sell his products. Kela Ivonye is the Owner of Arrow Food Courier, a food delivery service in the downtown and old Louisville areas. He’s looking for customer feedback on what food to be offered for delivery, working to expand their delivery range and developing an app.

    If you’re looking for a way to help Louisville grow and connect with others, then don’t miss out the next #ThinkBig. It’s a free event and they serve great refreshments. Attendees were treated to delicious cupcakes and cheesecakes bites from Fleur De Lisa’s Sweets.

    For more information on Brian or NowSourcing visit their website.

    Allison Myers's picture

    About Allison Myers

    Aspiring Marathoner. Experienced Cyclist. Extreme Foodie. Founder of @EatLoveLouisville. Instagram Fanatic. Marketing Maven. Shoe Fashionista.

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