Cultivate Small Business


Meet the alumni


Ryan Nahas

No Joke Smoke

Ryan has spent over 20 years in the restaurant business, 15 years behind the bar and 6 in the kitchen. All of these experiences along with his love of BBQ has been his driving force to create a New England style of BBQ sauce. For the past 7 years Ryan has been creating recipes for their line of sauces and in January 2015 No Joke Smoke was born.

Linh Tran


It all started with two best friends at Brown University who shared the same desire to make an impact.  During a late night conversation about inequality in Vietnam, Linh and her co-founder decided to visit one of the country’s most fertile but underdeveloped regions.  During her stay in Vietnam, Linh’s host mother showed her a Gac fruit grown in her backyard, calling it ‘the fruit from heaven’, describing to Linh the fruits healing power, and describing how she incorporated it into her family’s daily meals as a Vitamin A source.  Intrigued by the fruit, Linh began experimenting in the kitchen once home.  Three fellowship awards and multiple experiments later, XOI was founded in late 2016 to empower Vietnamese farmers, while sharing the Gac fruits nutritional benefits and the first-ever line of Skincare Beverage with the world.

Jon Huang

The Savory Cater

Jon’s journey in the food industry began with a food-photo-sharing app.  From there, Jon realized that most people don’t know what to eat until you recommend something to them- not just recommend anything, but something new, fresh, yet safe and not way off the deep end.  Deviating from the idea of an app and fast forwarding to today with over 100 orders, The Savory Cater has become the caterers’ caterer that strives to deliver food adventures to the curious offices by partnering with local, specialty food vendors that focus on quality as well as memorable service throughout Boston.

Vishal Thapar

Boston Chai Party

Vishal loves ideas and the only thing he likes more, is making these ideas come to life. He’s always tried out new things and has been curious about the world. Most of his conversations will involve the statement “Wouldn’t it be cool if?”

After he finished his degree in computer engineering, he moved to the USA from India to pursue his PhD in CS. He’s worked on multiple projects and ideas since, but one of his biggest needs was not having access to Chai. He grew up making, loving and sharing Chai. In 2015, when he learnt about how Tea farmers in India are being exploited and that some of them are making < $2 per day, he decided to do something. He started Boston Chai Party to support tea farmers in India and to bring Chai to America, a country he now proudly calls home. He still works full time as a researcher in cancer genetics.

Boston Chai Party has successfully managed to introduce Chai to Boston and has taught more than a thousand people how to make real Indian Chai. They do this via online instructions and videos on their website as well as at farmer’s markets like SoWa. They hope to take their business to a new level with their latest product, Chai in a bottle. When Vishal is not making Chai or researching the mechanisms of cancer, he likes to play badminton or just watch his kids make a mess in his living room!

Teresa Thompson Maynard

Sweet Teez Bakery

Sweet Teez Bakery, a dream turned Ideal that blossomed into a delicious cupcake. Started by a local mom in the Dorchester area. Teresa Maynard grew up in Dorchester’s Codman Square area where she is now raising her children. Growing up with various food allergies, and now raising kids with allergies, she realized a simple peanut can make the search for a good cupcake near impossible. After purchasing countless baked goods and worrying about the ingredients, she set out to provide customers with high-quality baked goods made to meet their nut free needs and delight their taste buds.

Sweet Teez Bakery is a family owned business. Sweet Teez Bakery specializes in custom baked goods with unique flavors & creative designs. Our products are made from scratch using quality nut free ingredients. Sweet Teez bakery launched its business delivering in the Boston area in late 2016 at the CommonWealth Kitchen. The CommonWealth Kitchen’s incubator allows the business to establish a following and gain capital before moving into a retail location in her Dorchester neighborhood. Teresa wants to open a retail location in the near future once she has raised the capital. She wants Sweet Teez Bakery to be really adorable and scenic and big on atmosphere, a destination place in Dorchester.

The bakery has been making traction in the Boston area. Sweet Teez Bakery sold out at the 2017 Boston Wine Expo. Sweet Teez Bakery participated in the 2017 New England Dessert Showcase and won Best Chocolate dessert for our Dark chocolate cupcake with semisweet chocolate ganache. We broke into the Wedding scene this summer doing a few weddings in the area. This past summer we hit a major revenue milestone. Some of Sweet Teez Bakery corporate clients include Capital One and Babson College. Sweet Teez Bakery is currently working on expanding their business into the wholesale marketplace where they can sell their bake goods to cafes and restaurants. While scaling a new business has its challenges, Teresa is excited about the future of this growing business.

Sweet Teez worth every bite…

Sherie L. Grillon

Nola’s Fresh Foods, LLC

A native of New Orleans, Sherie Grillon has always been passionate about food. Her earliest memories are of being in the kitchen with her maw-maw (grandmother) watching cooking shows and preparing the family dinner.

In high school, Sherie began working in restaurants in the French Quarter. Always watching-always learning. As a student at the University of Texas in Austin, Sherie continued to work in restaurants and fell in love with the bold flavors of Mexican cuisine. It was there that she began experimenting with making her own salsa.

After years of perfecting the process and much encouragement from family and friends, Sherie launched NOLA’s Salsa in 2011. Today, NOLA’s Salsa is carried in stores and restaurants throughout the Northeast. And the revolution continues to spread.

Renée Scharoff

Blonde On The Run Catering

Believe it or not Chef Renée started out in the fashion industry working for a Japanese designer. Growing up on a farm in Connecticut and having a French mother is where she learned her love for both food and fashion.

Upon graduating from Culinary school, Renée headed to the East Coast of Dublin Ireland to work at Brownes Brasserie and Townhouse, a classic French restaurant in a magnificent boutique hotel.

Renée is currently located in Boston, MA. She also spends a fair amount of time working in the South of France.

Nikki Economides

fixx chocolates

A desire to continue learning, combined with a tireless commitment to provide consumers with the ultimate culinary experience, has resulted in Nikki Economides developing into a renowned and celebrated pastry chef. Nikki got her start in the kitchen of a family-owned West Virginia hotel, where visitors repeatedly returned specifically for the young chef’s creations. A graduate of Johnson & Wales, with a degree in culinary and pastry arts, Nikki’s earlier career included working side-by-side with Corporate Executive Pastry Chef Norman Love and Pastry Chef David Robbins at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead, Atlanta. She joined Finale Dessert Company, the country’s first upscale dessert restaurant, as Executive Pastry Chef in 1998 and was a driving force in building the company’s brand, reputation and innovative menu of gourmet confections. Throughout her career, Nikki and her creations have been featured in various magazines and television shows, including the Food Network, TIME Magazine, Bon Appetit and Town & Country.

Fixx chocolates began in 2013 after Nikki took a trip to Madagascar. She became inspired by chocolate yet again and decided she could take the candy bar experience to another level…an exciting and indulging level.

As she relentlessly pursued and shaped her vision for the ultimate gourmet candy bar experience, Nikki researched and sampled the products available to consumers, buying candy bars from local gas stations to candy shops in Paris. Her goal was to create something that nobody has ever experienced, something innovative, and something to satisfy gourmet addictions. The result was an assortment of unique, rich and superb creations that will elevate your candy bar experience. From peanut nougat and bacon to praline crisp and passion fruit jelly, the fixx experience will introduce you to intoxicating flavors that will reinvigorate your love of chocolate.

Narosmi Auguste

Belle Creole Cuisine/Technology App/Jazz Cafe

Narosmi Auguste [pronounced: Na-Rose-Me, The (e) is silent at the end of Auguste] was born and raised in Boston, MA, and has a background in Haitian heritage. Throughout her life, there has been a blending of American and Haitian culture and with that she has been presented with different types of cuisines. She was introduced to the business world at a young age by her parents. She witnessed her parents operate a small boutique in Cambridge, MA. However, with the increased pressure of life, they had to shut down. It was a multitude of things but business education was one. In the back of her mind, Narosmi would like for that experience to not repeat.

Narosmi attended Boston Community Leadership Academy for High School and the University of Massachusetts Boston for College. She studied International Business Management and Finance and completed an internship in Shanghai, China. Although she went to school for management, Narosmi has only been able to take these skills so far. She has traveled the world and in her realization, business and food is a common language. She left finance and opened a small restaurant. She’s had it now for two years and needs help branding and expanding whilst introducing her technology to the restaurant world that will help revolutionize how people with allergies eat at different franchises.

Her restaurant is focused on serving traditional Haitian/Caribbean cuisine with a mixture of American food. She would like the help of Babson College and Santander to help her grow and expand whilst introducing her products and technology to the restaurant realm and beyond. She would like to have a focus in reducing world hunger, if, done successfully put a percentage of sales towards that focus. She would like to provide jobs to the economy.

Morad Bouzidi

Mo’Rockin Fusion

Growing up in Morocco and many times helping my mother in the kitchen, I got to love cooking from an early age.

Coming to the US at my twenties I worked at different fine dining restaurants in Atlantic City and then in Boston. I was eager to start my own business and to work for myself. I have always been passionate about food and cooking. Then I got the idea for a Food Truck. I bought a normal cargo truck and due to the high prices in the market for building a truck and due to the small budget I had, I decided that I will do it on my own. It took me more than 6 months of hard work in the cold Boston winter, until the truck was fully equipped and ready to hit the road. City of Boston runs a special program, which is designed in a lottery principle for every season from April to November. For 2 consecutive years though I was unable to get spaces in Boston, due to the high competition. Finally at the third year in 2016, I got few good spots in Boston and decided to start working. The food I serve at the truck is Moroccan spiced and very flavorful. It brings the taste of Morocco with a little twist, so that it can fit even the pickiest eater’s taste. The sauces are what it gives the finishing touch and make everything taste even better. The truck is a hit in the Boston Market and it keeps gaining popularity every day.

From being unknown and having only three working days of the week, it is currently being invited to many festivals and there is catering for almost every day of the week to different companies and private parties. I am opening a location in Abington in the next few weeks. The future plans are to open a brick and mortar locations in Boston and the surrounding areas.

Melissa Stefanini


Melissa is a Miami native living in Boston with eight years of experience as a copywriter and brand builder. While living and working in Los Angeles, Melissa and Buenas co-founder Sebastian had a craving for the flavors they grew up eating and made a fateful batch of empanadas to share with co-workers. Over time, their food became the highlight of the work week, and a job opportunity in Boston became an opportunity to share South American-style empanadas in a place they figured there weren’t many. The daughter of a small business owner and no stranger to making decisions on the fly that others may caution against, Melissa convinced her new employers to make those empanadas available as a weekly in-office lunch option. The Boston empanada scene proved to have room for one more golden-baked voice and the pair has been wholesaling empanadas and other specialty products inspired by family recipes starting in early 2017.

Meg Crowley

Third Cliff Bakery

Meg Crowley is the owner/baker of Third Cliff Bakery based in Dorchester, MA. Meg is a South Shore native who studied communications at UMass Amherst. After school and a brief stint as a ski bum in Colorado, Meg pursued a career in nonprofit development for Boston-area organizations that support vulnerable communities and improvements to public education.

In late 2013, Meg traded her desk job for a spot in Crop Circle Kitchen, the culinary incubator now known as CommonWealth Kitchen. There, she launched Third Cliff Bakery as a roving bakery, popping up at farmer’s markets, special events and street vending from the Third Cliff trike (a mobile cafe cart). Today, Third Cliff supplies both retail and wholesale baked goods to the Boston area via trike and events as well as providing baked goods for several local cafes.

Meg lives in Jamaica Plain with her husband and dog.

Mark Finnegan

Prospect Ciderworks

Mark is 26 years old and grew up in Harvard, MA, on a small family owned apple orchard. He made his first cider his senior year at Connecticut College. He graduated in 2014 with a double major in International Relations and History. During his junior year, he completed an internship in New York City in Investment Management. After graduation Mark worked at a tech startup in Boston, putting in long hours with what felt like a very unrewarding career ahead. In 2015 the idea for a cider company started and evolved into what is now Prospect Ciderworks.

Luther E. Pinckney

One one nine

Luther Pinckney is passionate about two things: the city of Boston and food. Born and raised in Roxbury, Pickney has become extremely familiar with the residents of his hometown and knows exactly what the locals desire when it comes to the dining scene.

Pinckney’s enthusiasm for the hospitality industry began in his early twenties when he began working at the front desk of the Colonnade Hotel under David Colella, Vice President of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and Chairman of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. While realizing his passion for the industry, Pinckney worked his way up the ladder and eventually moved to the Inn at Longwood as the rooms’ division manager.

Pinckney is focused on making the restaurant a place where all people can feel welcome and comfortable with his accommodating personality and southern hospitality rooted in his upbringing by parents from the south.

In addition to his career, he is devoted to serving his community through philanthropy. Pinckney has made it a commitment to donate to a number of local charities, some of which he has known from childhood. For fun, he likes to ski, travel and spend time with his family any chance he gets.

Lucero Leon-­Chi

Whipped – Urban Cupcake Co.

We are Whipped – Urban Cupcake Co., a Boston based cupcakery that has concentrated on redefining the cupcake experience. We are the only cupcakery specializing in mini designer cupcakes, free of all artificial colors, flavorings and preservatives from top to bottom, encouraging consumers to indulge smart. The product line includes a range of flavors as well as vegan and gluten-free options. Moreover, our award-winning cupcakes (judged and crowned as the best cupcakes in Massachusetts) have been featured at events hosted by The Knot and Sephora just to name a few.

John Hopkins

Five Way Foods, LLC

Prior to founding Five Way Foods, John was a corporate channel development and marketing executive working with leading global expertise software companies. He built and managed partner channels with leading value-added resellers, systems integrators, and other technology service providers. John is a proven producer, with extensive experience in developing partner programs, go-to-market strategies, channel enablement plans, and sales campaigns. Subject matter expertise in his prior career included threat intelligence, network security, incident response, SIEM, cyber risk assessments, managed file transfer, secure data transmission, Big Data, analytics, and databases.

A lifelong foodie, John founded Five Way Foods in November 2015 to offer consumers a “fresh take” on broth. In broth, Hopkins has found a niche market, as he taps in to popular culinary trends, including bone broth as a stand-alone beverage and a source of sought-after health benefits. John left his technology position in June of 2016 to focus full-time on growing the company. Today, Five Way Foods has four all-natural fresh broths; beef, chicken, fish, and vegetable. The broths are sold on-line and in retail stores, including Whole Foods Market and Roche Brothers.

Jennifer Lauren Turner

Miam Miam Macaronerie

I started my culinary career by attending Cambridge School of Culinary Arts.  After completing the yearlong program, I graduated with a Professional Chef’s Certificate, and a strong desire to open my own culinary business.  Not certain of which direction I wanted to go in, I went back to the university I attended after high school, Suffolk University.  There I completed my Bachelor’s of Business with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.  With these degrees under my belt, I felt it was finally time to jump in head first, and opened my first business, which was a chocolate café.  I created hand-painted chocolates and offered other café staples such as coffee, tea, and daily pastries.  From there I went on to open a much larger food concept, with two business partners.  Within the first year, I decided to leave the company.  While overall this felt like a business failure, I took it as an incredibly valuable learning experience.  I was going to have to create something from nothing, and find a whole new concept.  I approached a good customer of mine from the past stores, and asked her if she wanted to open a Macaronerie together, and that is how Miam Miam Macaronerie was born.  We started in 2014 with $500 and a vision.  We worked out of a commercial kitchen, with our sights on a storefront location.  In the meantime we did numerous pop ups, and events to get the word out about our French macarons.  In November of 2016 we finally opened our shop in South Boston.  We have been growing ever since.  Future goals include a second, larger café style shop, and our catering/corporate business.

Caroline Huffstetler

nutty life

Nutty Life founder Caroline had a major sweet tooth as a kid. Her candy and sugar addiction continued through college. That started to change around her junior year at Boston College.

As she grew more health conscious, Caroline got curious about why and how the almond milk she was buying didn’t need to be refrigerated. After extensive research, she learned a lot about the chemical additives found in these milks that blew her away! Below is just one example of an ingredient you might find in the typical nut or soy milk sold at your local grocer.

Carrageenan: the same chemical used to de-ice airplanes. YES… you read that correctly. And the only purpose for this chemical in your alternative milk is to prevent separation & to thicken it (i.e. To make it seem like your nut milk has more nuts than it actually does). The non-food grade (degraded) carrageenan is a known carcinogen, causing colon cancer and bowel inflammation in lab rats. The food grade carrageenan (undegraded) can contain as much as 25 percent of the degraded carrageenan. There is debate around whether the undegraded variation causes the same colon and bowel problems as the degraded carrageenan. The uncertainty is enough to keep us away from carrageenan the carcinogen. A common misconception: carrageenan is derived from seaweed, so it must be okay for us to consume. Because of the highly chemical-induced process of converting the seaweed into carrageenan, the seaweed is no longer seaweed at all.

We don’t even know the effects of consuming some of these additives on our bodies and health! And most of the research points to scary outcomes down the road. Most leading brands of almond milk contain only 2% almonds. Each bottle of Nutty Life contains at least 8% nuts & up to 35%! Our milks are full-bodied, filling, and mouth-watering good!

Blonde Beauchamp


Boston-born, Haitian-American with a passion for culture and entrepreneurship. With an MBA and international work experience, I am curious, adventurous, results-driven and committed to having tangible impact in my community. I was inspired to start thisHAITI while living in Ireland where I created Haitian Experience Dinners for friends and non profit organizations as a means to raise funds. The response to those experiences were very successful… I noticed people were asking a lot of questions, inviting me to their homes to cook, or asking to come to my place to eat. It always became an opportunity to talk about my Haitian culture, hence served as the catalyst to this business venture.

Audrey Yap

Noodle Lab

Audrey was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Her family has been in the restaurant business since 1991. In April 2014, she packed up her Prius and made the cross-country drive to Boston. Audrey heard about the Boston Public Market opening in 2015 and decided to apply as a vendor. She feels very fortunate to be a part of the Boston Public Market since its inception. Being in Boston has been an amazing adventure so far and she is looking forward to the possibilities!

Amanda Escamilla

Tex Mex Eats

Amanda Escamilla is the founder of Tex Mex Eats. Amanda grew up on the Gulf Coast of South Texas fueled on traditional, authentic Mexican food, grilled meats, fresh seafood. Her greatest influence is her Mother’s cooking where she learned how to put passion, talent & infectious enthusiasm into every dish she makes. Amanda takes pride in her “Texachusetts” flavors that combine Mexican dishes with local New England ingredients.

Since moving to Boston over 20 years ago, Amanda has worked in a variety of restaurants where she has developed a love for sourcing local ingredients whenever possible, whether it be a whole pig from Athol, MA or tomatoes from the nearest Farmers Markets. Most recently Amanda has served on the catering team of Cambridge, MA’s legendary East Coast Grill.

Alex Britto Pereira

Zing Bowl Brazilian Healthy Food, LLC

Alex is passionate about sports since he was a kid. When he was 5 years old his parents moved to the U.S.A., here he started to participate in Bicycle Cross competitions in New Jersey and won the 8th place in the world competition in Indianapolis. From 10 to 15 years old, back to Brazil, he played the official indoor soccer league for Flamengo, the largest team in Brazil. After growing up in a family with uncles and cousins working in farming and foodservice businesses, Alex developed true passion for healthy food. He is now motivated to use his knowledge and work for a sustainable food chain that can improve people’s lives and bring a safer environment.

Alex has 20+ years of experience in the financial sector and holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration from PUC-RJ, an MBA in Business Administration from COPPE-RJ, an MBA in Finance from IBMEC and an MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Heather Yunger

Top Shelf Cookies

Heather Yunger didn’t take a typical path into the culinary world, it came mostly out of a crazy (but effective) superstition. A superstition for her beloved Boston Bruins meant bringing her signature cookie, Black & Golds, for every home game. When the Bruins set off on their duck boat parade, it was decided that Top Shelf Cookies would be her new goal.

Operating out of CommonWealth Kitchen since September of 2014, Top Shelf Cookies continues to create handcrafted artisan style cookies ranging from classics like chocolate chip to any of the varieties of beer infused cookies we make! We’ve been told the cookies are so good, they should be hidden away from friends, family, spouses, even your kids!

Ellie Tiglao

Olio Culinary Collective

Since 2014, Ellie has engaged in a number of creative food projects, including the worker co-operative Olio Culinary Collective and Kulinarya, a cultural advocacy program focused on culinary arts. Her presentation of Filipino American cuisine has earned her some local press, notably from Boston Magazine, Metro Boston and the Boston Globe. In 2018, Ellie will lead the Olio team to open a brick and mortar location in Union Square, Somerville’s Bow Market named Tanám, which will feature a model of collaborating dining that will bring together chefs, artists and guests alike.

Ellie comes from a long lineage of farmers and culinarians, but initially studied neuroscience and came to Boston for immunology research in 2010. She also serves as Board President of the Greater Boston Chamber of Cooperatives, sits on the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts’ Advisory Council and was a 2017 Chapter Network Fellow of the US Federation of Worker Coops.

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