But the recently launched online platform Foodbevy seeks to level the playing field and eliminate the resource and network gap that holds back some early stage entrepreneurs – especial BIPOC, minority and female founders – by connecting them with industry partners, discounts, education and a community to help them succeed wherever they are in the country and the process.
“Foodbevy is really built to be an online platform for food and beverage companies with the goal of helping them to be able to grow from startup to scale, and we do that by providing a series of resources, including a director of buyers, distributors, investors and the like, special discounts geared specifically toward early stage food and beverage brands, a community to collaborate and a series of educational webinars and information for brands,” Jordan Buckner, founder of Foodbevy.
He explains in this episode of FoodNavigator-USA’s Investing in the Future of Food that the idea for the platform came to him after he launched his energy food business TeaSquares five years ago and learned that many of the struggles he faced were shared by other entrepreneurs. However, he noted, not all founders have access to the same resources that he did – something he hopes to change.
While the platform is open for all food and beverage entrepreneurs, Buckner says he is actively reaching out to BIPOC and female founders who often face a more significant wealth gap than their white male counterparts and who must overcome systemic biases.
“One thing I am hoping to do is connect founders with investors who believe in their product and mission and story, and want to support them and their vision, and not necessarily try to change them to fit into a mold,” he said.
Easy to search directory, community group facilitates matchmaking
To efficiently connect emerging brands and industry partners, Buckner has created at Foodbevy a directory that he likens to Angie’s List or Yelp, which brands can join with a click of button but which industry partners must apply to join.
Brands can use the directory to search and learn about companies offering various services to manufacture and scale a company in the food and beverage industry. If they need additional help, Buckner works directly with them to find the right partners, and when possible “provide warm introductions.”
The platform also includes a community group where founders can “crowdsource” tips, tricks and advice for common challenges, Buckner added.
While FoodBevy offers a light version of the platform to brands for free, to gain the full benefit of platform brands and industry partners must pay a membership fee of $360 per year, which will help sustain the website. Buckner stresses, though, brands can recoup this investment through discounts offered on the platform.
Industry partners that want to be listed on the site and have access to the platform’s benefits can choose a plan starting at $499 per year. This money will help the website and service self-sustain so that when participants and founding members are less available because they are managing their businesses, the platform will still be beneficial.
Ultimately, Buckner said his goal is to give everyone the chance to succeed – even if they don’t have a rich uncle, ivy league education or influential connections to help open doors.
“Far too often founders kind of get stuck in these traps along the way and they end up having to close down their businesses, and they have really great products that they are passionate about,” Buckner said. “I really want to see a world where everyone can be successful and so, if anyone wants to join me on that journey as a brand and industry partner, please come join Foodbevy.”