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How To Monetize Your Food Obsession

Career

According to Bon Appetit, tastemakers hold power in the form of social media accounts. You no longer have to be a well-established food critic to be treated like one; all you need is a camera of some sort and a social media following. Different tastemakers have different policies, as the realm of social media tastemakers is still very new.


Some people take advantage of this, while others don’t. Be the one who takes advantage, but don’t overdo it. In fact, a higher following doesn’t necessarily grant you better treatment or even access to the goods. Restaurant PR firms have become weary of the arrogant self-proclaimed Insta-famous divas, and they will opt for those with a more modest following (between 10k and 40k).

Code #1 in The Career Code, entitled Find Something You Love to Do, and Then Figure Out a Way to Get Paid for It” is arguably one of the more disputable codes in the book. What if what you love to do is illegal? What if it’s self-destructive? What if the amount you get paid for it isn’t enough? Hillary Kerr, herself, added a caveat to this code. She loves food, and her friends urge her to turn her love into something she could monetize – because she easily could – but she won’t. “I love food, but I don’t ever want to look at it from a work perspective.”

However, for those of you who who wouldn’t mind turning your lifestyle into a steady cash flow, keep reading. You, too, can join the ranks of New Fork City and The Infatuation. The best part is that people (like your mom) can no longer tell you to stop thinking about food because thinking about food all the time is your job now.

Your objective is to become a tastemaker or what 2016 refers to as an “influencer.” Put simply, “a tastemaker is anyone who can influence the way you eat.” According to David Sax, the tastemakersaved the deli.

The best part is that people can no longer tell you to stop thinking about food because thinking about food all the time is your job now.

That being said, the ones who act like divas do it because they know they can get away with it. Not only can tastemakers – particularly those on Instagram – save a business, but they can also help a business flourish. And restaurants know this – going so far as to hire architecture firms to design their spaces to achieve peak “Instagrammability.” Even I have an entire board on Pinterest filled with pictures of menu items from restaurants I want to try in New York City. All of them are pictures I pulled from tastemakers on Instagram. I had no intention of ever going to Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer or Emmy Squared until I saw pictures of the food on Instagram. That’s no coincidence.

But why stop at restaurants? “Each of these Instagrammers has amassed a group of loyal followers, often parlaying that success into cookbooks, TV shows and brand partnerships.” One ‘grammer turned her “Instagram pics into an e-commerce business that prints the photos onto phone cases, tote bags and stationary.”

You need to take an epic photograph. Go beyond epic, for good measure. You need to geotag. You need to hashtag. You need to tag(your sponsors).

Most importantly, do not to lose your footing as a tastemaker. You must be on top of the food trends. According to David Sax, “the most successful food trends reflect what’s going on in society at a given time.” If you see that juicing is in again, strike a sponsorship deal with Organic Avenue (before they die again). If there’s yet another national tragedy, make yourself available to the well-known comfort food brands and restaurants before anyone else does. Pay attention, and stay with the times.

Right now, it’s a culture, but it won’t be long before it’s a full-fledged industry. Strike while the iron is hot. Then, when it cools down, monetize another obsession.

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#GetFunded: The Best Way to Kick Off Pride as an LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneur

We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.


The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").

To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.

These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.

However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.

This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.

The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.

As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.

Apply to pitch!

SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.

Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.

Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!

Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.

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SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.