There’s a buzz in the air from the moment you walk through the doors of Pilotworks Brooklyn in the old Pfizer building. Entrepreneurs staring at computers in the co-working area while others have meetings and still others take a break from whatever task they were working on, coffee cups in hand. Meanwhile, the kitchen is a mix of organized chaos with food artisans toiling in various sectioned off stations, trying out new recipes, fulfilling orders.
There’s no magic formula for creating a successful business. Passion, perseverance and luck are all part of the equation, in ever-shifting amounts. It’s something Nick Devane and Mike Dee, the co-founders of Pilotworks, are familiar with. The whole idea for their company came from a failed one (they previously ran an Etsy-like service where customers could buy from home cooks) that showed them a gap existed for small batch food makers that weren’t yet ready to have their own work kitchen but needed a cost-effective production space outside their homes.
In the past years, Pilotworks—formerly known as Brooklyn Foodworks (BF)—has become known for its holistic approach to entrepreneurship providing not only a kitchen for food entrepreneurs but a place to bring the food business community together. The two opened Pilotworks in 2016, buying the space as Brooklyn Foodworks from Dinner Lab when they were shutting down. Like the previous BF incarnation did, the revamped Pilotworks gives members a licensed production facility. What’s more, members can now also sign up for a membership giving access to the business’s larger nationwide co-working spaces, mentorship resources, food entrepreneur networks and events.
“We allow our members to focus on what they do best, and that’s making food,” Devane said.
In the process, Devane and Dee have found their own success. Pilotworks now has six kitchens across the country (Brooklyn, Chicago, Dallas, Newark, Providence and Portland, ME) with more expected to open in 2018. At the Brooklyn space—home to local favorites that include Sweet Pistachio, POPTEA Sparking Tea, Zesty Z, Woldy Kusina and Dank Banana Bread—they recently took over another floor of the building, which will give them space for more than 100 additional companies, bringing their total capacity up to more than 200. In the next few months they’ll also be adding on a larger co-working space area.
We’ll be waiting (hungrily) to see what new food business come out of the space.