On May 5th The Mixing Bowl and Slow Money Northern California hosted the second annual Food Funded event. The goal of the event was, not surprisingly given the name, to connect food entrepreneurs with the knowledge and capital they need to turn their ideas into successful businesses. Over 350 people gathered at the Presidio in San Francisco to make this happen.
The day kicked off with three parallel panel sessions covering everything from financing, to technology, to sustainability. In addition to hearing expert opinions on these topics, audience members were treated to an interactive and engaging conference experience as the moderators grounded panelist’s comments in specific roll play situations (e.g., “I just started my own vegan pop tart business. I know I need to have a website, but I don’t know anything about computers”). This helped ensure the audience members left with actionable takeaways and insight into difficult decisions, rather than polished success stories. For example, Adam Sah of Buyer’s Best Friend and ByteFoods explained how he uses a requirements document to evaluate potential technologies and narrow down quickly to the most relevant and cost-effective solution. Later, Victoria Fiore of Plum Organics suggested using the B Corp Impact Assessment as part of the diligence process to explore the sustainability impact of a potential venture.
Over lunch attendees had plenty of time and space for networking, fueled by tasty samples from various startups. Networking time ensured that even entrepreneurs who were not presenting or demoing had the opportunity to connect with their peers, show off to potential customers, and attract the attention of potential investors.
“Food Funded created an authentic connection between the investment and entrepreneurship communities. And they did so in a way that doesn’t feel purely transactional. People here are really trying to build a community, but without taking away from the key mission of getting food funded”
– Food Entrepreneur Aleem Ahmen (LoveGrain)
The afternoon was all about deal flow. Twelve startups were selected to present on the main stage to a packed audience and a panel of investor judges, Esther Park, Hanson Li, and Marco Vangelisti. Judges gave feedback based on three criteria: relevance of the market need, creativity and innovativeness, and the ability of the team to execute.
“Seeing all the other pitches was really helpful. So was getting feedback from folks who are experienced seeing this kind of presentation. Participating in Food Funded is really valuable in helping us to build our brand, and getting recognized helps us build credibility with investors”
– Community Grains
The Judge’s Choice award went to ByteFoods; runner-up was Community Grains. Winners will receive free classes from another event sponsor, The Food Business School. The day ended with a networking reception and a two-room entrepreneur showcase. Each of the twenty-four selected entrepreneurs had a table, often with samples or demos.
“Being a sponsor for Food Funded puts us in the same room with people who we want to support, and it creates an opportunity for us to express our needs so we can find great products that work with our business model in the food service industry. It offers us a place to express who we are- a company resilient to the trends”
– Joni Sare, Epicurean Group
Food Funded was made possible by a number of sponsors, including main sponsors Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Slow Money Northern California, and Epicurean Group.