Calling all food & beverage entrepreneurs: Applications are open for FoodBytes! Chicago

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Calling all food & beverage entrepreneurs! Applications are open for FoodBytes! Chicago

Related tags: FoodBytes, Rabobank

Applications are now open for the 16th FoodBytes! by Rabobank global pitch competition, which is coming to Chicago for the first time in September and seeking emerging food and ag brands to pitch their innovations and network with corporate leaders and investors.

For FoodBytes! Chicago​, Rabobank is seeking startups focused on food as medicine, sugar alternatives, soil and water conservation, novel healthy ingredients, animal health, sustainable production, robotics, precision agriculture, food safety, and food waste.

The 15 selected startups will be assigned into two judging categories: CPG (consumer packaged goods), and tech (food and ag tech), but are all eligible for the People’s Choice Award (voted by the audience across both categories).

Each will get the opportunity to participate in a two-day education, networking, and pitching program held at Revel Fulton Market​ in Chicago on September 18 and 19​.

The deadline for applications (apply here​) is Sunday, June 23 at 11:59 pm CDT.

Networking opportunities

What participants enjoy most about FoodBytes! is that it’s more than just a pitch competition; it gives entrepreneurs access to Rabobank’s broader food and ag ecosystem, and helps them secure direct feedback on products, technologies and pitches from people that have been there and done that, said Nina Meijers, startup relationship manager for Rabobank's food & agriculture innovation team.

“For many of the startups, it's getting access to that ecosystem on an ongoing basis that is the most valuable part of the experience."​

The judges - who are interested in companies that have gone beyond the ideas stage and have proved their proposition to some extent - are primarily looking for:

  • Management team​: ​Exceptional domain and entrepreneurial experience.
  • Business model​: ​Companies with a clear understanding of their costs and margin structures, competitors, and ability to scale.
  • Market opportunity​: ​Judges are most interested in high growth market opportunities and high barriers to entry.
  • Product innovation​: ​The judges are looking for game-changing approaches to solving problems.
  • Production validation and traction​: ​Evidence companies are building a successful business and are able to raise external funds.
  • Sustainability and social impact​: ​Concept is focused on the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet.

On the first day of FoodBytes! Chicago (September 18), the 15 selected startups will attend group sessions on everything from deal structures to legal, financing, and branding, but will also get the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with mentors to secure direct feedback on products, technologies and their pitches.

On the second day (September 19), they will each give three-minute pitches to the judges​​ ​and the audience.  

The winners will receive:

  • The opportunity to pitch and network with c-level food and agriculture executives at Rabobank’s annual Food & Agriculture Summit in New York City in December.
  • Business consultation services, including: legal consultation; go-to-market consultation; recruiting consultation; and access to Rabobank research reports.

FoodBytes! Chicago is supported by presenting sponsor ADM​ with additional support from official sponsors Printpack​, Polsinelli​, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN​ and foodspace​; as well as supporting sponsors Agropur Cooperative​,  Creative Alignments​, Germin8Ventures​, The Intertwine Group ​and Boulder Food Group​.

Apply​ ​to FoodBytes! Chicago before Sunday, June 23 by 11:59 pm CDT.

Watch our video with the judges from FoodBytes! San Francisco in March to find out what makes a great pitch:

Checkout more videos from FoodBytes! San Francisco 2019:

Foodbytes-Kassie Borreson Fotografie
FoodBytes! San Francisco 2019 (Picture: Kassie Borreson Fotografie)

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