Young Guns: Laid Off and Starting Up


Belinda Di Giambatista, a 2005 graduate of Stern's executive MBA program, turned to the school when she was laid off in February 2008 after 10 years in financial services.

With the help of the school's entrepreneurship center, Di Giambatista launched Butter Beans Inc., which provides organic, homemade, hot lunches to school-age children.

Today, Di Giambattista is building up her business in Brooklyn, New York, and says getting fired was one of the best things that ever happened to her.

Butter Beans Kitchen co-founder Belinda Di Giambattista answers the 6 Shooter Q&A:

Q. What are your three biggest tips to entrepreneurs?

A. 1.Surround yourself with smart people who are experienced in your industry or general business and let them help you 2. Make sure you have the time to commit to your venture when you launch it, because it will take more time than you think you have… 3. Know your customers. Talk to them every chance you get, leverage your network, conduct primary marketing activities, and make sure they are willing to pay you money for your product or service before you spend a lot of money on your business.Q. Where were you the moment you thought of your business plan?

A. I was on vacation with my husband and my son in Costa Rica on a yoga retreat. My son was almost 2 years old at the time. The retreat was partly organized by my current partner, Felicia Desrosiers, Director of Wellness for Butter Beans. She led the nutrition aspect of the retreat. My husband came up with the initial concept for Butter Beans that week as we ate healthy food and thought about how great it would be if our son had healthy food at his daycare every day.Q. What was the one thing you didn't know that you had to bluff your way through?

A. I am not a professionally trained chef by trade and had to rely on my home cooking skills to get us through the first six months.Q. What is one life lesson that has helped you build your business?

A. Believing in myself and that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Q. To someone who was just laid off, what would you tell them?

A. If you are recently laid off, now may be a good time to reflect to determine the right next step for you and your career. I always knew I wanted to start my own business, so the timing for me was not as bad as it was for others in my situation. I knew it was the right time for my career to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities. Regardless of what everyone says, keep your options open and as you evaluate each potential direction for either new employment or starting out on your own, consider the pros and cons of each and decide what is right for you personally so that you are living the life that makes you the most happy.

Q. What is one word your employees would use to describe you?

A. work-a-holic

And if you know a young entrepreneur with an interesting story, e-mail us at