The Meatery: Leveraging Start-Up Support Services in Southern Minnesota

March 09, 2023 |

Southern Minnesota is defined in many ways by its vibrant food and agriculture industry, and specifically, its propensity for innovation and entrepreneurship within the space. Through a collaborative approach to connecting communities, The Meatery serves as a prime example of a small business leveraging available resources to grow their venture while elevating their mission of feeding inspiration and inspiring access.

The Meatery launched in April of 2022 with the initial goal of fostering a community of amateur meat hobbyists, or as they like to call them, Meathusiasts. The community they set out to build was curated for individuals who were interested in where their food comes from, finding quality meat products, and learning how to prepare them. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shut down of meat packing facilities would lead The Meatery team to re-evaluate their initial vision. Colette Drager, Co-Founder of The Meatery, shared, “We knew what we were creating needed to be more than just a space to enjoy quality meat. As farmers, it was important that our business model provided folks with access to delicious products while also supporting people who produce it.”

To further refine their business plan, The Meatery sought out technical assistance from the South-Central Small Business Development Center (SBDC). The SBDC hosted at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Strategic Partnership Center offers no-cost, customized consulting to businesses throughout their entire life cycle, alongside cohort style entrepreneurship training. One of these trainings included the Waseca New Business Challenge- a partnership between the SBDC and the Waseca Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Waseca New Business Challenge is designed to help local entrepreneurs become pitch ready through engaging in a 10-week training program where they develop a stronger small business network and receive 1:1 mentoring from the SBDC. “The Waseca New Business Challenge is really what we needed. Something to hold us accountable, and something to get us started”, shared Molly Byron, Co-Founder and Social Media Content Creator for The Meatery. Following The Meatery’s experience in the Waseca New Business Challenge, their team would enter the state’s largest startup competition- the Minnesota Cup. The pitch they had refined through the Waseca New Business Challenge would land them a top 10 spot in the Food, Agriculture, and Beverage division. “The great part about participating in an entrepreneurial cohort is that we started on the right foot. It’s part of the reason I think we’ve had such a successful launch- because we had the resources provided through the SBDC.”

What started has a community of meat hobbyists has evolved into a small business partnering with other small businesses to curate personalized meat collections that customers can purchase online and have shipped to their door. The Meatery’s platform allows for partner shops to expand their businesses and give meat-lovers a home to learn fresh ideas, get creative, and foster community. “The Strategic Partnership Center has been invaluable to the growth of our business, with its similar mission to expand rural resources and celebrate agriculture”, shared Byron. “Through the South-Central SBDC services and training opportunities, their support for local entrepreneurs ensures that we can keep building our businesses and working our way towards a bold future.” If you are interested in learning more about the services provided by the South-Central SBDC, please contact Mike Hahn at or apply for services online at To learn more about The Meatery, please visit their website at