Producers Startup Program for Small Businesses, Farmers, and Entrepreneurs

The Chesapeake Agriculture Innovation Center (CAIC) is proud to present the Producers Startup Program, this free six-week program is designed to help farmers, entrepreneurs and startup businesses develop the tools necessary to begin and manage operations.
The program will offer six weekly web-based meetings and will cover key topics and skills training exercises necessary to achieve your business goals.

Program Overview

In this six-week course we focus on the design skills of ideation, prototyping and iteration. We will teach how to develop your ideas into experiments and provide the tools necessary to bring others in on your vision.

We will walk you through the nine blocks of the business model canvas and the importance of reviewing your business model often. We will look at your operation through the lens of experimentation focusing on actionable, accountable and audible results to assist your business navigate through the emerging environment of small business. This course is designed for startup companies.

Who is eligible to participate?

There will be five cohorts during the course of the year. The time commitment for this program is one day per week for six weeks. Each cohort is capped at 15 participants.

Small Businesses

All small businesses engaged in business operations that are directly related to value-added agricultural products in Maryland and Delaware.

Farmers and Entrepreneurs

Farmers and Entrepreneurs who are considering operating a business directly related to value-added agricultural products in Maryland and Delaware.

Course Schedule

Week 1: First week: Idea Generation, Understanding Your Market and Customer, Market Sizing and Analysis, Defining Your Competitive Advantage

Week 2: Reaching Your Market Segments

Week 3: Problems Facing Small Business, Financing Your Business, Types of Contracts

Week 4: The 9 Blocks of the Business Model Canvas

Week 5: Lean Model Canvas, Developing Strategies and Experimentation for Actionable Results

Week 6: Business Pitches and Preparing for Funding Options


Here is what previous participants have shared about our program.

What are the steps to enroll?

The first step to enroll is to fill out the registration form. Participants will receive a phone call from our Program Manager and will participate in a 15-minute orientation call. Those who are approved to participate will receive an email link to the course.

Please contact Brian Brown at 540 589-3532 or for more information.


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.