Entrepreneur Profile: Matt Joyce and Kaitlin Kickstart Award

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


We're fortunate to live in a community that is incredibly supportive and collaborative when it comes to entrepreneurship. On Tuesday, June 7, we announced that The Twisted Shrub won the Kaitlin Kickstart Award, founded by Matt Joyce. Matt was a finalist in our 2015 competition and is already paying it forward. We wanted to know more about Matt and his journey as well as who has helped him along the way.

The path for any entrepreneur involves numerous relationships, small wins, and good ol' luck. Who has helped you along the way?
Entrepreneurship is all about learning your industry as quickly as possible. Mentors help to accelerate that learning process, which makes them crucial to success. My original mentor is Lisa Nicholson, founder of Salsa Lisa. I then met family friend Erik Johnson, a former General Mills chemical engineer. Early on at the Minneapolis farmers market, Liz Elert was my best customer. She continues to be an exceptional branding mentor, and was recently hired by Jessica Alba to be Head of Creative at The Honest Company.

Matt Joyce

The MN Cup was a tipping point for Joyce Foods. Our first time entering the MN Cup, Joyce Foods won the Digging Deep award and $1100 in prize money for 11th place from Kieran Folliard (founder of 2 Gingers - sold to Jim Beam).  Kieran's faith in myself and my product gave me the confidence to go all in. Kieran's support and mentorship helped Joyce Foods become a Finalist in last year's MN cup competition, which gave us legitimacy and attracted generous investment offers. I cannot overstate the effect my mentors have had on me and my company. I appreciate them all, and hope to reward them some day.

You have big dreams for Joyce Foods and are in the beginning stages of making this vision a reality. Why are you giving back to entrepreneurs early in your company's life?
My mentors have helped build my dream, so I will do my best to help others build their own. I believe in paying it forward, so this year we will be presenting The Kaitlin Kickstart Award and $1100 in prize money to 11th place, just as Kieran did for me. The award is named after my close friend Kaitlin Beske, who left us much too soon in 2012. She was like a sister to me. Kaitlin was one of my biggest believers early on, when most thought I was crazy putting my time and life savings into a garlic dip product. I want to support young entrepreneurs, just as Kaitlin supported me. 

Food entrepreneurship is a big deal in Minnesota. What's some advice you'd like to share with other early stage food entrepreneurs in Minnesota?

  • Matt Joyce
    Starting a food company is a never ending grind, and very expensive. Before committing your time and money to a food venture, first prove demand at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. The foot traffic is 3,000 people per weekend, so it offers a great platform to see if people want what you are selling.
  • In addition to leveraging mentors, I believe audiobooks are key to entrepreneurial success. I recommend 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss to learn business efficiency hacks. I also love How Rich People Think by Steve Siebold, which will completely shift the way you think about making money.
  • Outsourcing is essential to scaling a food business. The best business is one that can sustain and operate without you in it.
  • Your network is your net worth. Help people as much as possible, without expecting anything in return.
  • Leverage AURI for free state funded services like R&D, label calculations, microbial & shelf life testing, etc.
  • Competing in the MN Cup is an absolute must! The MN Cup will encourage you to develop a strategic business plan, receive constructive criticism from experienced entrepreneurs, recruit mentors, hone presentation skills, solicit investment offers, and the $80k in potential prize money doesn't hurt!