Thursday, June 14, 2012

Minnesotans on the rise: Sarah Burt of Saucy Burt's!

Sarah Burt is the saucy owner of Saucy Burt’s, a fun and fabulous food cart on the corner of 8th and Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis! Even though Sarah is a relative newcomer to the Minneapolis food scene, she is clearly here to stay. Though Minneapolis has lately seen a growing trend of all things food, Sarah located a hole and had just the product to fill it – her meatball sandwich.

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Like most professionals, Sarah did not have a direct path leading her into entrepreneurship and even with the amount of joy cooking brings to her, she has not had it easy. Aside from the incredible amount of pre-work there is to owning a business, Sarah had to cook for 12-14 hours a day in the early days of running Saucy Burt’s.

Sarah’s takeaways from this experience include insights that other young professionals can incorporate into their lives. She has a few tips to share with other young professionals:

1. You cannot hide from social media, so use it to your best advantage. That means engaging your network. Without her built-in social network of online supporters, Sarah might not have had the initial success she did.
Thanks to social media, Sarah had a built-in fan club.  Sarah had about 1,000 Facebook friends for her personal page before the launch of Saucy Burt’s. She frequently communicated food related thoughts, pictures, reviews, updates, etc., through various social media outlets.  This integrated fan base gave her the momentum and pushes she needed to keep moving forward.

Sarah credits her remarkably successful launch to the growth of the food network and word of mouth.  Sarah was quick to point out that the word of mouth piece comes in two parts: the first being the more traditional word-of-mouth taking place off-line in the form of personal conversations and the second, and arguably the most important type of  word-of-mouth, is the online messaging spread via digital social networks.

Another contributing factor to her immediate success was the drop of Heavy Table’s piece on Sarah’s food cart, Saucy Burt’s. Couple Heavy Table’s article with the fact that Saucy Burt’s was secretly shopped by the Star Tribune’s food critic Rick Nelson, who of course gave a glowing review of Saucy Burt’s Classic Meatball Sandwich. 
2. Find a mentor. Having the ability to brainstorm with someone who had already found success in  the food industry was critical for Sarah.
Of course, there were many steps in between her initial days as a cook at Haute Dish and the launch of Saucy Burt’s, but after a lot of planning Sarah was finally ready to begin her entrepreneurial journey and open her food cart.  First thing on the long list of to-dos was to find a mentor – someone who to guide her through the process of opening her own business. She successfully found the perfect mentor thanks to the website Mentor Planet, which uses the same algorithms as many on-line dating sites to pair mentors to mentees. With the help of her mentor, Sarah began to find other leaders within her sector that were able to guide her though some of the back work that she needed to consider: building a long-term business plan, some expected pitfalls to anticipate, how to secure a small business loan, etc.
3. Do what makes you happy. 
Now that Saucy Burt’s is established and Sarah officially has her saucy brand, she has found what means the most to her: sharing her passion for cooking with her supporters. Sarah really wants to continue engaging the food community here in Minnesota. She keeps her fans up-to-date through Facebook, Twitter, and more she often uses these tools to share a piece of her day or any other information about daily life at Saucy Burt’s. Sharing these real life experiences and bits and pieces of daily life are how she continues to engage with her network and continue to build support for her brand.

Sarah has broadened her food cart options this year. She now has Saucy Chicken Meatball Sandwich as well as the Classic Meatball Sandwich, for those customers who want all the saucy goodness of the Classic Meatball Sandwich, but might not be so keen on the pork.

So, if you find yourself downtown Minneapolis you should stop by her cart on the corner of 8th and Nicollet, and in the meantime follow her on Facebook or Twitter!  

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