Meet Katarina Midelfort
“We started our family farm by looking at what the community was missing out on that would grow well on our farm. We added the mulberry business because it was clear after a couple years that mulberries are a versatile and delicious fruit that has many uses in foods, and that we couldn’t possibly specialize in all of them… so we decided to provide mulberries in several ways to be incorporated into other’s recipes."
Q & A
Q1: What is your background and what are you doing now?
A1: “I am co-owner and founder, along with Chris Rhodes, of the startups Purplewood Farm and Midwest Mulberry. Purplewood Farm is our family farm which produces and sells maple syrup, honey, blueberries, mulberries, lavender, fruit jams, and crafts in Stamping Ground (Scott County). Midwest Mulberry is a business-to-business offshoot of Purplewood Farm supplying mulberries to restaurants, food manufacturers and drink makers. I am also a full-time biochemical engineer."
Q2: How did you to come up with the idea for Purplewood Farms and Midwest Mulberry?
A2: "We started our family farm by looking at what the community was missing out on that would grow well on our farm. We added the mulberry business because it was clear after a couple years that mulberries are a versatile and delicious fruit that has many uses in foods, and that we couldn’t possibly specialize in all of them… so we decided to provide mulberries in several ways to be incorporated into other’s recipes."
Q3: What has been the most rewarding part of founding your own startup?
A3: "The most rewarding part of our startups is meeting all the other amazing people along this path. Entrepreneurs are fun, lively, creative, and determined; These are great people to hang out with and get to know! Another rewarding part of a startup is having the authority and freedom to see the challenge, unravel it, and find the next step along the course. We want to be successful, so we need to find what the customer needs, figure out how to make that happen, and deliver…. And then repeat. The feeling of success in meeting your goals through your efforts, even the little baby steps, is great. Always remember to see the small successes and enjoy them."
Q4: What community resources would you recommend to other founders?
A4: "We started our startup journey through the UK Von Allmen Entrepreneurs Bootcamps 1.0 and 2.0. I highly recommend these free programs to get support, education, encouragement, and some structure to the planning process. In addition, I now routinely attend the Wednesday morning Startup Breakfast hosted by StartupLex. This group is diverse and encouraging. You can listen to other’s business development, ask questions and lend your ideas and experience to others. It is a very supportive group. In addition, I have entered several pitch competitions and gotten support from the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC), KCARD, KY Pitch mentors (Kentucky Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs), UK Von Allmen staff and mentors, and mentors that I have met through StartupLex and the pitch competitions themselves."
Q5: What is one piece of advice you would share to anyone considering becoming a founder?
A5: “I would encourage anyone with an idea to pursue finding out if you like entrepreneurship. And I most certainly encourage everyone to participate in the Von Allmen Entrepreneurial Bootcamps and/or the Startup Breakfast conversations, depending on what point you are in your startup journey. The road to starting a business is much more enjoyable with others to converse with."