When Brandon Parrott texted a photo of his tomato basil soup to his mother, he had no idea it would lead to a business venture. Now, as a part of the LAUNCH Chattanooga Kitchen Incubator Startup Matrix program, his food truck, Fully Involved Bistro, is a full-time family project.
Through the 16-week program, Parrott and his wife, alongside other area entrepreneurs, receive support for everything from technology to budgeting and funding to marketing strategy. The class began with digital skills training, tailored to a startup food venture’s needs, and a Chromebook device from Tech Goes Home, an opportunity made possible through a $20,000 grant from Truist Foundation.
“It’s really opened my eyes,” he said of the program. “This new Chromebook, the budgeting knowledge, all of it. I know where I can be most efficient now.”
Pat Rowe, outreach manager and member support specialist for the Kitchen Incubator of Chattanooga, said the class is about bridging the information gap, as well as providing access and resources ensuring both entrepreneurs and their small businesses thrive.
“It’s instrumental to be able to partner with Tech Goes Home, a lot of these participants didn’t even have a laptop before this,” he explained. “Now, they’re learning new things every week that will continue to help them connect in their life and in their business.”
That sort of support is exactly what Tech Goes Home works to provide, through community partnerships like with Truist Foundation, said TGH Program Director Sammy Lowdermilk.
“Truist Foundation aims to fulfill Truist’s purpose of inspiring and building better lives and communities by increasing economic mobility for all through entrepreneurship,” said Truist Chattanooga Market President Jim Vaughn. “That’s why we’re excited about the work Tech Goes Home and other partners are doing to strengthen the small business ecosystem here in Chattanooga, supporting entrepreneurs so they can thrive in a technology-dependent world.”
For Parrott, also a volunteer firefighter on Highway 58, the class is a chance to scale his new family venture, which became a more personal project when his mother was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
“Most days, the last thing I cook on my truck is a cheesesteak just for her,” he said. “… And soon, I’ll have my first food truck paid off and I’d like to have a second more customized one.”
And, through this Truist Foundation grant, more classes for small business owners and entrepreneurs are coming this year. For more information about Tech Goes Home and the wide range of opportunities available, visit www.techgoeshomecha.org.