Kris Schoenberger, owner of BBQ’d Productions—a mobile catering and full-service party planning company – attended Access to Capital Chicago as a finalist in the Growing Chicago: $10k Business Pitch Contest. He hoped to win the money to finance a second trailer. Instead, he made an important connection with loan officer Jennie Motto from Accion Chicago, a microfinance organization that helps businesses get access to capital and offers education and other resources on how to grow a business. Jennie took special interest in BBQ’d Productions’ unique business model and encouraged Schoenberger to apply for the Brewing the American Dream Program, which is sponsored by Samuel Adams in partnership with Accion.
Fast-forward six months and BBQ’d Productions has expanded its one-trailer operation to a four-trailer fleet that is booked every weekend through the end of this year. Schoenberger has been working with Accion and Samuel Adams who have helped finance the company’s growth and have provided him with educational resources to help manage this expansion.
“Being accepted into the program was a cool thing – to be mentored by Sam Adams is like having your high school football team being mentored by the Chicago Bears,” said Schoenberger.
Even bigger things are to come for Kris & BBQ’d Productions
Schoenberger will be featured on the label of a new Samuel Adams beer to be released in early 2014, and BBQ’d Productions will be at upcoming brew fests with the brewery.
“I think the coolest thing was how excited Jennie Motto from Accion was about my company and what we did,” he said. “With her excitement and having someone who was behind me believing in what I had and what I was doing made the process nice and easy going to go through.”
The Brewing the American Dream Program was launched in 2007, and has altogether distributed more than $2.5 million in capital to more than 270 food, beverage, and hospitality entrepreneurs helping to create or retain more than 1,800 jobs across the nation. The program also includes speed coaching events, business and financial literacy seminars and webinars, and access to an online community.
“The biggest thing people say is network, network, network—that is an understatement,” he said. “I was just going through all the business cards of those everyone I met there. There were so many people at the event that have helped me that I still keep in touch with that continue to give me the moral support to achieve my goals as an entrepreneur.”
Kris will be at Access to Capital in Seattle – this time, to share his success story, which is just one of many successes that have originated at an Access to Capital: Money to Mainstreet event. We can’t wait to see what spirals out of Seattle!