The Secret Ingredient in Food Entrepreneurship: Purpose

As seen in Alley Watch:

Published December 9, 2015

The trendy Brooklyn mega club, Verboten, was host to a vibrant network of mentors, investors and industry leaders at FOOD-Xcel Day III. FOOD-X is the first-of-its-kind, food-business accelerator recognized by Fast Company as one of the world’s ten most innovative companies in food.

FOOD-X partners with early-stage food entrepreneurs to bring products and services to market to scale change throughout the food system. FOOD-X provides coaching, mentorship, and up to $50K per team to accelerate their growth in exchange for 8% equity. Since inception in 2014, FOOD-X has made 33 investments and launched 26 companies. Shen and partners are managing towards their purpose by measuring success using long term, social-impact benchmarks such as improved access to healthful foods and behavior change.

Founder Shen Tong is a purposeful serial entrepreneur and also serves on the board of Food Tank. FOOD-X has been investing in wisdom since inception, said Shen. In our age of abundance (in the United States), ironically the face of hunger is obesity and the future of food is NOW. An analysis published this summer in JAMA Internal Medicine found that 75 percent of men and 67 percent of women ages 25 and older are now overweight or obese putting them at heightened risk for a wide range of health problems.

Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Executive Director at Consumer Reports Food Safety and Sustainability Center lead the opening keynote. Dr. Rangan is responsible for managing risk analysis, policy assessments, label evaluations, and consumer advice for tests, reports, and related advocacy work. She highlighted a shift in values critical to consumers when shopping for food. Consumers are no longer just focused on cost drivers, but instead look to fold into a larger purpose when making food choices. These considerations include

local environment pesticides working conditions animal health antibiotics GMOs artificial ingredients David McInerney, co-founder, Chief Merchant and Chief Food Adventurer of FreshDirect, shared his inspirational journey to and at FreshDirect. David has worked under Michelin star chefs in France and New York. FreshDirect, the leading online fresh food grocer in the United States is on a mission to make great food easy to get. Quality sourcing provided by FreshDirect is built on strong relationships and shared purpose. As the Chief Food Adventurer, David travels the world meeting with farmers, fishermen, and ranchers to source the healthiest, freshest, highest quality foods in existence for FreshDirect’s customers.

The food sector continues to be a high growth sector thriving with innovation and disruption. FOOD-X is accepting applications for the Spring 2016 Accelerator Program until December 31.

For inspiration, check out the following ventures that made FOOD-X’s third cohort of companies:

Bizzy Coffee wants to provide an organic, sugar-free, shelf-stable cold brew coffee without preservatives or pasteurization. Bizzy Coffee contains 2 ingredients, 300% more caffeine, 0 sugar, 0 calories.

Booster wants to make agronomic data accessible to every small farm in the world to help them double their yields.

ChugaChaga wants to provide the next generation health beverage infusing the superfood Chaga into bottled tea to restore, repair, and revitalize. ChugaChaga will also plant a tree for every bottle of ChugaChaga tea you purchase.

Cookmood wants to be the world’s largest online cooking school, empowering anyone to teach and anyone to learn via live interaction.

Crema provides the digital loyalty program and payment solution to support indie coffee shops under one coalition… because coffee matters.

Forkyoo is an online marketplace that transforms favorite local restaurants into fulfilment centers delivering pre-prepped, ready-to-cook meal kits to home cooks.

GIVN Water helps bottled water consumers feel good about each purchase. Every bottle of GIVN water sold funds one day of clean water for a person in need.

TRUEnergy wants athletes to feel good and perform better by providing all-natural energy shots infused with caffeine, electrolytes, vitamins, and antioxidants.

Wakati provides an innovative technology that increases the shelf life of fruits and vegetables for smallholder farmers in developing countries and reduce food loss/waste.

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