Entrepreneurs advance through the four-month incubation program as part of a cohort, sharing knowledge and experience across cultures and skill sets, promoting social bonds and mutual understanding.
The LIFE curriculum is carefully designed, curated and localized to ensure entrepreneurs are receiving the context they need to launch successful businesses. It includes 25 modules of specialized content and covers 60 hours of teaching on the principles of entrepreneurship, financial management, marketing, negotiations and legal issues. Entrepreneurs are also trained on topics such as food safety and financing for food businesses to enhance their sector-specific expertise.
Each cohort commits to 12 weeks of training led by qualified trainers (both Turkish and other nationalities) from the business community and academia.
In addition to the core LIFE curriculum are expert-led workshops. These one-day trainings provide participants with additional culinary, business and marketing skills, depending on their needs.
At the FEC, LIFE Members have access to a commercial grade kitchen certified for small-quantity production and uniquely designed for multiple businesses to test their recipes and products at the same time. The kitchen is paired with attached cafe seating, giving entrepreneurs the opportunity to host pop-up meals and practice hospitality and customer service.
Gastrodiplomacy event series
Throughout their incubation period, each cohort teams up to host special events that engage the local community and promote an exchange of culture through food. These gastrodiplomacy events, which often feature guests from the food sector and business community in Turkey, also serve as a prime networking opportunity for entrepreneurs.
LIFE staff facilitate one-on-one mentor-mentee relationships by matching members with a seasoned entrepreneur in a similar line of business. Within the mentorship program, the FECs
- Recruit, interview, select, match, monitor and evaluate mentor-mentee relationships.
- Ensure mentors and mentees are equipped with the tools to maximize their relationship, including but not limited to setting expectations and providing training as needed.
- Encourage mentors and mentees to utilize both online platforms and the FECs in maintaining the mentoring relationship.
- Support evaluation and sustainability including succession planning, mentor assessment, mentor population growth, mentee process evaluation, and program effectiveness assessment.
Mentors are also encouraged to provide other forms of support to FEC members (not only their mentee) including facilitating business relationships, access to finance, etc.
In addition to a structured mentorship program, LIFE provides a suite of services for entrepreneurs to establish and grow their businesses. These services include
- Formalization, registration and legal support
- Access to finance and start-up support
- Networking, thematic events and seminars
- Business pitch competition, with seed funding for winners