Business Development Series – Archive


Week 1 – Introduction/Overview – The live videos of the this weeks first webinar sessions are pretty punk.   We are working to improve the process for next week (mainly getting a helper – if you are interested let me know).  I did make a version of the slides with audio narration.

Week 2 – Business Models

Week 3 – Market Research

Week 4 – Market Research – Deeper Dive

  • Review and Interview with Christian ZuckermanKahumana Farm/Housing/Learning/Retreat Community in Waianae, Oahu (45 min video)  See also
  • Discussion with Eli Nygren on research to create a sake brewery and bring back rice growing to Hawaii (30 min).
  • Evening Introductions (23 min)
  • Discussion of Market Research Experience over the last week. Briana Rodriques shares her notes.
  • Christopher Spezzano talks about his research over the last year in designing web tools (Form & Matter) to help match small local growers to aggregators, stores and direct to customers. Aram Armstrong who has worked as an interaction designer with IDEO and Eli Nygren who is a user interface specialist working in Japan and Maui, join in.   I am hoping to get their help in upgrading how we are able to share and collaborate around developing our business models.  Stay tuned.
  • HOMEWORK – Keep up the good work.  Next week we take a deeper dive on forecasting and developing financial projections.   Chaz Berman of Growers Secret a business that grew out of the mushroom operation the site for which the Farmers Union is looking at on Hana Highway in Haiku. The current R&D is in the former clinic at Puunene and Hanson Rd. where Tim Gunterʻs Maui Earth Composting is located.   Chad is the CEO and is based in SF.

Week 5 – Cash Flow, Forecasting, Pricing & Pivots

  • We talked with Chaz Berman, CEO of Growers Secret – a company that started as a mushroom farm and is now an international soil amendment company with offices in SF and R&D in Puunene.
  • Teena Rasmussen – who just sold her 40-year old flower farm, shares lessons about understanding costs, pricing, the importance of consistency and collaboration.  Teena has also always supported small business development and is currently the Maui County Economic Development Coordinator.
  • Updates on Market Research from participants. Brianaʻs notes on her research.
  • Forecasting and the inter-relationship between historical and future oriented financial statements.
  • HOMEWORK – Continue evolving your models including some cash flow projections.  We are also gearing up to create a class page with photos, short bios, and links to your business development website (more later).  Please send a short bio and photo and any links to class participant Eli Nygren  by noon next Tuesday.
  • Next Week –  Financials – Deep Dive on Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet, Ratios – and Valuation:  How much is your idea worth?   How do you figure out how much ownership you need to give in return for investment?  How do you value your contribution to a joint venture?   How do you sell your business when you are ready to move on?

Week 6Demystifying Financials

Reminder to send photo and bio to Eli Nygren  by noon next Tuesday.

Next Week – Creative and Appropriate Ways to Raise Funds

Special Session – Monday Noon with Jenny Kassan – an attorney pioneer in direct public offerings.  Please have a look at her website.

Wednesday Lunch –  Amy Cortese, author book and blog LocavestingTEDxMaui Speaker.


Week 7 – Creative and Appropriate Ways to Get Money For Food System Projects

  • Amy Cortese – Brooklyn based author and coiner of the term “Locavesting” TEDxMaui Talk from 2012
  • Amy Cortese – video with class what has happened since her talk and what is exciting and useful now.
  • Links from Amy
    • – crowdfunding site for renewable energy – crowdfunding meets muni bonds – community capital news & resources – crowdfunding aggregation site (for investors that want to try out crowdfunding & align their $ with their values)
    • Colleague Dan Miller is about to launch a crowdfunding site for farmers – stay tuned.
  • Jenny Kassan – Oakland based attorney pioneer in helping people raise equity investment from their communities.  Website includes intro to her “Six Steps To Prepare to Raise Money”
  • Video from Jennyʻs discussion with class.
  • Links from Jenny

NEXT WEEK – Focus on impact investors.  Guest James Frasier of Natural Investments.


Week 8 – Social Impact Investing, Metrics & Preparing to Make A Pitch

NEXT WEEK – Focus on Relationships – Developing, Maintaining, Putting Things in Writing –  with guests John Hauoli Tomoso (Episcopal Priest and Executive Director of Tri-Isle RC&D), and HFU member and attorney Michael Moskowitz.


Week 9 – Relationships – Review/Preview of Series – Legal, Accounting, Negotiation – Cultural Competency.

NEXT WEEK – Accounting systems for finance, safety and social metrics.

Week 10 – Systems for Accounting, Time Management, Social Metrics, Food Safety

  • Video – Update on Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) from Annabella Bruch & quick look at Sapere cloud based HACCP and GMP system.
  • DF Overview on Accounting, Time/Project Management, Social Metrics

Week 11The Fifth P – Promotion – Social Media, Public Relations, Food as Medicine

  • Danielle Miller – video – Overview of Social Media Management –
  • Tony Talalay – CEO of Brassica Protection Products ( – Video – sharing the story of developing a international health-focused product, fresh broccoli sprouts, out of top medical school, Johns Hopkins University and being forced to pivot to supplements.  Tonyʻs slides.
  • Katie MacMillan – video – Hawaii based Public Relations and Communications Consultant – Why are events important for promoting your business, how to develop or find them, and how to make the most out of them. Contact Katie

Week 12  –  Negotiation

  • Dale Bonar video –  was the first executive director for the Hawaii Islands Land Trust – currently working on affordable farming land trusts
  • Joel Edelman video – “Mindful Maui Lawyer” focused on agreements and problem prevention and when inevitable disagreements happen, smoothly reach positive outcomes.
  • “Getting to Yes” – 11 page pdf summary of classic book in table form.   Book review

Coming Shortly – Survey and Discussion of What is Next?









  1. Jenn Atkinson on August 12, 2017 at 9:22 am

    This is great! Thank you, David.

  2. Irene Plunkett-Mina on August 13, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Great first was wonderful to see other participants on video. Mahalo David!

  3. Mary Spadaro on September 10, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Hi David, It is so extremely generous of you to do this – thank you so much!
    Can you tell me how long you will be keeping the recordings available online?

  4. David Fisher on September 14, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Through the end of the course and maybe the end of the year.

  5. Jenn Atkinson on December 31, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Can you please keep the recordings available a little longer? It’s a great resources. I’m still using these resources to finalize my farm plan.