EASTON, Md; March 3, 2021…The Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC), announced three of the Subject Matter Expert (SME) companies that will be providing services to the constituents of ESEC’s new Chesapeake Agricultural Innovation Center (CAIC).

“We are pleased to welcome Grow and Fortify, Cureate, and Kitchen Table Consultants as the first SMEs who will be resources for CAIC,” said Mike Thielke, ESEC Executive Director. “We will be adding more SMEs as we identify more specific needs that CAIC must address.”

Kitchen Table Consultants, based in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, will provide mentorship in several subjects including profit analysis and benchmarking; daily profit metrics; forecasting, budgeting, and fundraising; market and sales strategy and execution; and leadership development.

 Cureate is a woman-owned business based in Washington, DC, that offers strategic counsel to help small businesses navigate shifting consumer tastes and interests in the agriculture/food space. Their mentorship will cover the topics of successful go-to-market strategies, market analysis, sales channels, distribution, and marketing.

Annapolis-based Grow and Fortify focuses on value-added agriculture startups that require mentorship in the areas of government regulation, licensing, packaging, labeling, zoning, and permitting procedures.

CAIC’s mentorship activities were part of the proposal ESEC submitted to the USDA to compete for the grant that established CAIC. In addition to providing mentoring in their special subjects, CAIC’s SMEs will be involved in the organization’s program development and planning that will take place from March through May. Beginning in June SMEs will develop and present workshops for CAIC’s constituents and will offer monthly office hours for one-on-one mentorship.

About ESEC: The Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center (ESEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, based in Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, with a mission to educate and support entrepreneurs. Its initiatives include F3 Tech, a program that focuses on bringing technology solutions to the Farm, Fish, and Food industries.

 About CAIC: The Chesapeake Agricultural Innovation Center (CAIC) was established in late 2020 as a new program of ESEC’s F3 Tech initiative to expand F3 Tech’s focus on food technology. CAIC is funded by a two-year, $470,800 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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Mini-Grants up to $5,000 are available for:
– Market Research and Validation of Target Market
– Customer Acquisition
– Product Development Initiatives
– Food Safety Classes
Value-added producers and companies with traction ($20,000 or more in yearly revenue) in Maryland and Delaware are eligible to apply for Mini-Grants. Participants may apply once for each of the categories. Applicants must demonstrate that they have a unique and differentiated product or service that incorporates an aspect of innovation or technology in its production, processing, distribution, or other element of the food supply system.
Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Award decisions will be made and funds will be available no later than three weeks following the receipt of a completed application.
Application Process
Applicants must submit Mini-Grant proposals by filling out the form at this link. Copy(ies) of quote(s), proposal(s), estimate(s), or any other supporting documents.


CAIC offers access to Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who can offer authoritative advice based on their deep knowledge and experience in a specific area. See the ADVISORS page of this Web site to learn more about the SMEs who are available to CAIC participants.

Date and Time of Session: Wednesday, October 20th; 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM
Course Description: This presentation discusses strategies for B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) growth via marketing and sales. The presentation focuses on each company’s plans to diversify its revenue streams by using e-commerce, exporting, and overall customer acquisition tactics to support and enhance brand awareness.
Desired Prerequisite Knowledge and Experience of Attendees: There are no prerequisites for this Virtual Presentation.
Criteria for Acceptance into the Virtual Presentation: Attendees need to have a product-based business; this is not suited for technology and/or app companies.