Tourism - food and culinary tours

Cultivate Advisors Helps Entrepreneur Diversify & Scale 3 Tourism Companies to a Successful Exit.

Cultivate Advisors Impact

Shane Kost started Chicago Food Planet to connect his passions of travel and food. Through his work with his advisor, he was able to grow and scale, Chicago Food Planet and take his expertise to launch Global Food Tourism Association.

Cultivate Advisors partnered with Shane to:

  • Build and develop his executive team
  • Convert operation from owner-operator to scaled
  • Recruit, hire, and train 15 new employees
  • Refined services & created business packages to increase revenue
  • Implemented new products and services
  • Launch Global Food Tourism Association
Cultivate Advisors Impact

Cultivate Advisors Impact

Shane Kost

As a consultant myself, I was hesitant to seek advice outside of my comfort zone, especially with individuals outside of my industry. Cultivate quickly highlighted that I was missing critical skills and insight into how best to grow and scale my business(es). I’m excited by the strategies they’ve infused into my brands and only wish I’d invested in their knowledge and resources much earlier.

Shane Kost

Global Food Tourism Association | Food Tour Pros | Chicago Food Planet

Challenge Solution Outcomes

Challenge

In 2006, Shane Kost started Chicago Food Planet, a Chicago-based food and culinary tour company that offers a unique Chicago food and cultural experience. After much success, Shane decided to launch Food Tour Pros to help others start and operate their own food tour businesses in cities across the globe.

Shane was a little skeptical about partnering with an advisor. Shane is a top expert in Food Tourism, teaching other entrepreneurs how to open food tours across the world. At the time, he was responsible for helping to create 90% of the industry, but he kept seeing that food tours would always cap out at a certain level.

Shane wanted to scale. He had seen success in the owner/operator model he had built, but he didn't know how to take it to the next level.

Solution

He partnered with his advisor to develop the infrastructure for scale, starting with building out an executive team that could take over different departments in the business and allow Shane to remove himself from the owner/opertator model.

Next, they focused on financials and looked for opportunities to tighten up the systems within the business and increase profitability. When they moved to sales and marketing, they looked for opportunities to move from the traditional B2C to tap into B2B market. Seeing an opportunity to capitalize on custom events they hired a salesperson to partner with businesses and create customized employee experiences and private tours.

They also work together on creating a partnership with Navy Pier, one of Chicago’s largest tourist destinations. This partnership allowed Chicago Food Planet to massively increase brand recognition and help to drive more leads into the business.

In 2015, after working with his advisor on tightening all of the systems and processes and converting Chicago Food Planet from owner-operator to a scaled model, refining services for Food Tour Pros, Shane and his advisor got to work to launch his third brand, Global Food Tourism Association.

Outcomes

In 2020, COVID hit the Tourism industry very hard. Many businesses suffered and had to close their doors. Fortunately, with all of the work Shane put into the business and all of the systems he had implemented with his advisor, he was able to sell Chicago Food Planet at value.

In 2022, Shane returned to Cultivate to work with an advisor to build his newest business venture, real estate investment.

How We’ve Helped Other Businesses

Real Estate - brokerage

Since filming this video, Mike McElroy has successfully sold Center Coast Realty

Since filming this video, Mike McElroy has successfully sold Center Coast Realty

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Kogut & Wilson Case Study

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Tourism - Luxury Tours & Transportation

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Engineering - Landscape Architecture

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Food & Beverage - Wholesale Bakery

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Healthcare - Neuropsychological & Psychological Testing

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Manufacturing - Sign Manufacturing

Silicon Signs Case Study

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Tourism - Rentals & Tours

Mad Moose Rentals & Tours Case Study

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Trades - Residential Replacement Windows, Doors, and Siding

Adkins & Sons Case Study

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Software Implementation - workforce management

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