Meet Lizzie Bell, Co-Founder of Off the Beaten Path Food Tours and Experiences
Welcome to another week of #WomenCrushWednesdays! Up next: the amazing Lizzie Bell!
Describe your business. What is its main goal/function?
Lizzie: Off The Beaten Path Food Tours and Experiences runs food tours, chocolate tours, progressive dinners, and trivia nights in cool and interesting Boston neighborhoods. Our mission is to share delicious food, support local businesses and entrepreneurs, and highlight the rich cultural history of off-the-beaten path destinations in Massachusetts and beyond!
Our guided tours are tons of fun for locals and visitors alike and currently run in awesome cities such as Somerville’s Davis and Union Squares, Cambridge’s Harvard, Central, and Kendall Squares, Jamaica Plain, and Lowell with more tours in development to launch this year.
We also offer group tours which are perfect for birthday parties, corporate team bonding, bachelorette parties, conference attendees, and travel groups. And we run a series of Foodie Trivia Nights at interesting breweries that tests guests’ knowledge of local history, food, and beer while providing the chance to earn great prizes.
Why did you decide to become a female founder? What inspired you to start your business?
Lizzie: I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and always knew I wanted to start my own company. I started my career in advertising and market research so I had a really strong foundation of how to build a product that meets guests’ needs that resonated competitively.
After earning an MBA from Babson College, I worked in Brand Management for a natural products food company. In my role, I was the general manager for my brand, and I came to appreciate running all aspects of the business. Besides food, one of my passions is travel, especially to off-the-beaten-path locations.
On a trip to Japan with my husband, we took a really memorable food tour in Arashiyama which is in Kyoto, Japan. We became really excited about introducing guests to cool neighborhoods in Boston that we know and love and spent considerable time exploring. We had so much to share!
What are the greatest challenges of founding your own business?
Lizzie: I’ve been lucky to work part-time for Babson’s WIN Lab accelerator so that has really helped me continue to collaborate with others on varied projects and also to earn some money to keep myself afloat during the start of our business. My role at WIN Lab really inspires me, and I encourage other female founders to consider applying to the accelerator in Boston or Miami.
That said, I face a lot of “critical risks” in the business such as what if a guide stops working with us or a restaurant decides to no longer be on the tour. It can be really stressful to have so many balls in the air while we don’t yet have enough funding to hire enough help.
How have your experiences as a female founder shaped you?
Lizzie: I’ve always been resourceful and creative and a lover of problem-solving and brainstorming. Becoming a founder is a natural fit for me as I am highly productive and can get a lot of work done efficiently and done well in a short period of time.
I fully embrace all aspects of growing the business, and hearing the positive guest feedback has been extremely rewarding and motivating as well as being able to provide marketing opportunities for small businesses as well as the chance for our talented and awesome guides to earn additional side-income and share their passion for the neighborhoods we tour.
As a natural connector, developing community partnerships has been incredibly rewarding and invigorating.
Growing up, what were your goals in life? Did you ever imagine you’d create something like what you created?
Lizzie: Growing up, my dad was an entrepreneur and my mom a very creative teacher. As a kid, I could entertain myself to no end with a craft drawer, and I used to write my own newspaper to give to my family to read. In high school and college, I always gravitated to roles such as International Club president or Editor of my high school paper. Where there was a will, there was a way, and I knew with some forward thinking and coordination, I could get things done.
I initiated a school-wide survey on substance abuse for my high school newspaper, analyzed, and reported on the results. In college, I created a concert series and obtained a grant to allow area musicians such as those from Berklee School of Music to play on campus at Wellesley College in a coffee house series that I curated.
Later on, for my alumnae group I ran a very successful women’s career dinner series which led me on really interesting journeys connecting people from all different fields. My love of event planning and bringing people together around unique and thoughtful events has definitely propelled me to start my current company.
In addition, I’ve worked in the food industry for over 15 years, so I know it very well from restaurant to grocery to food service, and I admire local and creative concepts with a nod to historical context and great food.
What’s next for your business?
Lizzie: Off The Beaten Path Food Tours is growing fast, and we’re looking to add to our team! Do you know of any potential guides or marketing interns who may want to work with us? Send them our way! We are set to launch additional tours this coming year, and we hope to continue to create new programs that will inspire locals and guests.
If any of you would like to partner with our business, please reach out to us as we are excited to push ourselves to grow in new directions. Our email address is email@example.com. Send us a note anytime!
What advice would you give to the next generation of women and girls looking to make an impact?
Lizzie: I’ve been somewhat disappointed in my generation so far as they haven’t challenged the status quo as much as I would like them to, and yet I do see hope for the future. I think that above all people should be kind to each other and take the high road whenever possible.
It’s easy to take things personally, and many will disappoint you or not be able to share your vision, but if you start each day anew with a fresh attitude and realize that there’s others out there that will help you on your way and keep your positive attitude, you can accomplish such wonderful things in this life.
As Grateful Dead says, “all good things in all good time,” meeting your goals doesn’t happen overnight, but if your mission continues to resonate with you, then you are on the right path of learning and accomplishment.
Special thanks to Lizzie Bell for taking the time to share her amazing story!
For those of you who live or plan on visiting Boston, ‘Off The Beaten Path Food Tours and Experiences’ is not something you want to miss out on! Check out their website to book your tour now!