Startup Grant Contest update: 3 Chicks and a P

Jennifer Rittner-Paniccia

Jennifer Rittner-Paniccia

There are just over two weeks left to enter a business idea in the All Over Albany Startup Grant Contest, sponsored by Staff Ciampino & Company P.C., Certified Public Accountants. One winner will receive $1,500 from Berkshire Bank to help start up a new business, or take an existing business to the next level. You should apply. Don't wait!

Two years ago 3 Chicks and a P, a family-run hummus and tapenade business, took home the $1,500 prize in the Startup Grant Contest. Back then owner Jennifer Rittner was just starting the business with her husband Matt, and their delicious hummus recipes had become farmers' market favorites.

Today you can find their products at The Niskayuna Co-op, Honest Weight, Healthy Living Market, and the Schenectady Greenmarket. They're now preparing to move into larger markets, and Jen says their startup grant is still working for them.

startup contest 2014 sponsor ad staff ciampino

It's been almost two years since you won the startup contest. How have things been going with the business?

Great! We are pumping along. We are in somewhat of a transition period now where we are looking at maybe doing some rebranding. We'll be at the Home and Garden Show at HVCC this weekend. We've expanded to a couple of non-traditional vegan pestos that are very popular and we have gotten into some other stores. We do really well in the co-op. We are looking at some repackaging to push larger distribution, but we are still working full time right now and there's definitely challenges with that.

But that's still our goal. We are also trying to get into another large farmers' market, but we have not been able to do that yet because they have other other hummus vendors.

What did you do with the grant money?

We put the money back in to the business. We were able to buy more equipment to keep up with the demand for the products. And we still have some of that money sitting there, holding on tight, to do some product labeling. Some of the larger chains like to see that, but customers also like to see it to know about nutritional value and what ingredients are in the product that they are purchasing. That is in the next phase of our growth.

That $1,500 was so helpful for a small business just starting up. It really made the difference between being able to pay your mortgage or not that month and still grow the business. That was money to help us move forward that we didn't have.

3 Chicks and a P judges' samples
The samples 3 Chicks and a P shared with the judges during their presentation in the finals.

In addition to the business, the contestants walked away with a lot of advice from the judges. Was there anything in particular they said to you that proved particularly useful or true?

One of the judges was concerned about the family dynamic and being able to handle the stress of a family-owned business -- having small children and all. I really heard that concern and we've kept that in mind in our approach to the business. We try not to burn the candle at both ends. Do what you can do. Work slowly at a pace that works for you and don't necessarily listen to the advice of others who say you have to quit your job. We do what works for us and what works for our family.

What else did you take from the experience?

It definitely helped with connections. Seven months after the contest we had customers come to us and say, "I saw you on the AOA grant contest." Even today, nearly two years later, we have people who recognize us from that.

What is your advice for this year's contestants?

Do your market research, know your brand, know your product, and have passion for what you are doing. Passion is the key. You really have to love what you are doing because you do it 24/7.

Sometimes I have to say no to things. The home and garden show we are doing this year asked us to take part last year. But last year we just were not prepared. You have to know what you can handle.

This interview has been lightly edited.

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

Photos from the "Inaugurate Resistance" march and rally in Albany

Thousand of people turned out in Albany Saturday for the "Inaugurate Resistance" march to protest the presidential administration of Donald Trump and rally for issues... (more)

Taking in The People's Art

Let's look at some art. That sounds like a good idea today. We got a chance this week to finally check out The People's Art... (more)

The @Hudson Park residential conversion in Albany gets planning OK

Another residential conversion -- this one will add 75 apartments to the Hudson/Park neighborhood -- got the OK from the Albany planning board Thursday evening.... (more)

Stuff to do this weekend

We do solemnly swear that we will faithfully execute the task of finding you stuff to do this weekend, and will, to the best of... (more)

Morning Blend

Inauguration Many "New York Republicans at the presidential inauguration festivities" articles: + Local state Senator George Amedore on Trump: "We need a fighter in Washington... (more)

Recent Comments

Bruce Fence Company came through for me in a big way last spring. Another local fence company gave me a price and a date and then faded away. (Perhaps a bigger job came along, but have the decency to call.) Needless, to say this failure to keep the date as promised created frustration with the neighbor on the other side of the fence. From my first telephone contact with Bruce to my first visit in their office and then through to completion of the job, every interaction was friendly and professional. The entire transaction went like clockwork.

Just down the road for Albany: paying for parking by license plate and mobile app

...has 4 comments, most recently from Mike

A good contractor for installing a fence?

...has 7 comments, most recently from Alf

The new plan for a big mixed-use development near Quackenbush Square in Albany

...has 13 comments, most recently from Stan

The @Hudson Park residential conversion in Albany gets planning OK

...has 2 comments, most recently from Stan

New online home for the Cohoes Mastodon

...has 1 comment, most recently from Tim