Led by Plum Organics founder Gigi Lee Chang, FoodFutureCo is unusual in the accelerator space as it focuses on companies in agriculture, food hubs, ag tech, supply chain, food tech and SaaS, as well as consumer products, and deals with companies that are already established, but need money and expertise to get to the next level.
While several food incubators, accelerators and investment funds have been launched over the past couple of years and high-profile entrepreneurs such as Mark Rampolla (PowerPlant Ventures) and Jon Sebastiani (Sonoma Brands) have moved into this territory, along with CPG companies with venturing arms such as General Mills, Kellogg and Campbell Soup, she said:
“We’re unusual in three ways. We’re looking at a very broad ecosystem; we’re very focused on companies that are mission and purpose driven; and we’re not looking at companies in start-up mode.”
Once you launch, you will nearly always encounter problems that you just didn’t anticipate
The scale up stage is often where companies encounter their biggest roadblocks, added Lee Chang, who said she is particularly interested in "stuff from other cultures that's not been leveraged yet in our food universe."
She added: “It’s hard enough to start a company, but it’s even harder to scale up and if you don’t have the capital or the resources to make progress, it’s difficult to get to the stage where you are going to be attractive to the next level of investor. It’s a very vulnerable stage in the lifecycle of any company.
“Once you launch, you will nearly always encounter problems that you just didn’t anticipate. It’s also lonely to be a founder. I know because I’ve been there, and once you get going, it’s extremely hard to pull back from the daily firefighting and think strategically about what you’re trying to do in the medium to long term.
“In some cases, we have started by having a conversation about a roadblock a company is facing, and ended up having a conversation about completely repositioning the business.”
Companies participating in the FoodFutureCo program will get assistance with:
- Business Strategy and Vision
- Branding and Marketing
- Growth and Scale
- Operations and Logistics
- Culture and Team
- Governance and Legal
We operate on a rolling application basis
Food Future Co – which typically looks to take a 6-8% equity stake in participating businesses - has two cohorts per year, with each program running for five months, and while the application deadline (12/9/16) for the first cohort of 2017 has just passed, it is still worth making contact, she said:
“We operate on a rolling application basis which means that any companies applying after 12/9 will still be considered either for cohort two or cohort three.”
Successful applicants will get intensive coaching in all areas required for running and scaling up a business, as well as mentoring from a team of seasoned food & beverage entrepreneurs, investors and strategists, but will not be required to relocate to New York (where FoodFutureCo is based), she said.
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