Congratulations to Wellntel, the 2015 Blender Champion!

This year, 12 impressive teams from around the U.S.–and beyond–competed in Silicon Valley’s signature ag and food business pitch competition, The Blender, at the 2015 FOOD IT Conference at Stanford University. The competition was held in two rounds with an early morning “Appetizer” round, and an afternoon “Main Course” round featuring the top four companies. The competition was judged by two groups of experienced investors and domain experts (one group for each round) who contributed valuable insights to both the participating companies and also the audience. They were:

 

“Appetizer” Round

Drew Taylor, Taylor Farms Ventures

Geoff Eisenberg, Ecosystem Integrity Fund

Jonathan Mi, BrightPath Capital

Mark Kahn, Omnivore Partners

Samantha Wai, Innovation Endeavors/Farm 2050

 

“Main Course” Round

Adam Anders, Anterra Capital

Andy Wheeler, Google Ventures

Andy Ziolkowski, Cultivian Sandbox

Geoff Smith, Mars Ventures

Gilad Novik, Horizon Ventures

John Hamer, Monsanto Growth Ventures

Nicola Kerslake, Newbean Capital

 

The “Main Course” featured a selection of companies as diverse as they were compelling. The champion, Wellntel (Milwaukee, WI), featured a timely smart sensor for monitoring groundwater levels and informing water use decisions. CTO Nick Hayes’ only challenge after being awarded the Golden Blender trophy was fitting it in his bag for the flight home to the Brew City. The champion was accompanied in the final round by Dine Market (New York, NY), an online marketplace aggregating restaurant vendors and enabling real time price comparisons and streamlined procurement (pitched by CEO, Guy Praisler); Food Origins (Watsonville, CA), which seeks to provide granular chain of custody data from field to retailer in addition to very valuable field labor productivity data in specialty crops (presented by CEO, Nathan Dorn); and Mavrx (San Francisco, CA), an aerial imaging and analytics platform leveraging proprietary algorithms to provide real-time and predictive insights into changes in crop and soil conditions (pitched by CEO, Max Bruner).

 

As was the case in last year’s “Blender” competition, the other participating companies all brought their “A” game and presented an array of valuable products and platforms. In alphabetical order they were:

Barn2Door (Seattle, WA)–a marketplace for sustainably raised food

Cityblooms (Santa Cruz, CA)–modular microfarms targeting underutilized spaces

HATponics (Rossville, GA)–delivering hydroponic, aquaponic, and terraponic solutions to developing world communities aimed at stemming the spread of hunger

Intelleflex (Santa Clara, CA)–offering a pallet-level freshness monitoring service reducing retail food waste by up to 50%

Juicebot (San Francisco, CA)–a vending machine allowing for custom-blend local, raw, organic cold-pressed juice delivered in reusable glasses

Manage My Coop (Eugene, OR)–an online buying club for local organic foods allowing streamlined group purchases

The Not Company (Santiago, Chile)–a company leveraging machine learning algorithms to remake food products with sustainable ingredients

Sereneti Kitchen (San Francisco, CA)–introducing the Cooki–an all-in-one kitchen appliance that creates simple out of the box fresh meals delivered weekly

 

Congratulations to all of our companies that participated! This event will only get better in the coming years!

Please stay tuned for video of the entire proceedings, which The Mixing Bowl will be sharing shortly.