Double Mixed: Thoughts from a two-year old

This week I ran across our blog post “Mixed Up for One Year Now” that I wrote around this time in 2015 when the Mixing Bowl turned one.  Now, having turned two, I thought I would take stock on where we are and how we’ve grown.  

From a Mixing Bowl perspective, these are exciting times as we have made new additions to our team! Debby Haslem, Director of Marketing, comes to us with a long career in the food industry. And Sara Friden joins us as Marketing & Events Project Manager with experience in tech events and PR. We’ve also added some great new Advisors, and remodeled our website thanks to Michael Rose’s leadership.

After the success of our Food, Ag & Health Solutions Summit at UC Davis, I am pleased to say that we are continuing to upgrade the Mixing Bowl’s game on events. On March 23rd, we will host Mixing Bowl NYC  in conjunction with Davis Wright Tremaine, NYTECH, Cornell, and Forbes; and on May 5th, we will have another FOODFUNDED event with our friends at Slow Money…And that’s just the beginning!

We’ve decided to modify some details for this year’s flagship event, FOOD IT, with Stanford’s FEED Collaborative, to align with Forbes on their Ag Tech Summit in Salinas, July 13th-14th. The FOOD IT event will be held on July 12th at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Last year’s event had attendees from 17 countries and our goal this year is to get even more international participation.

Overall, food tech and agtech REMAINS HOT! In this regard, not much has changed from what I wrote a year ago:

“FOOD IS HOT right now in Silicon Valley! Silicon Valley is a frenetic place with tons of networking events and an already over-stimulated and over-caffeinated tech demographic. The result is a small geographic space with a huge case of Attention Deficit Disorder. Recently we have seen a number of new conferences and incubators pop up connecting food and agriculture to Silicon Valley. While this is generally a good thing, it does make us wonder if we are seeing too much of a good thing. I’ve been in Silicon Valley since late 2000 and have seen technology sectors with their high-priced conferences hyped and abandoned.” 

On the food/agtech innovation events and incubation, we are probably close to the smoke point where any more heat will start to cause deterioration. This caused me to write “9 Billion Food Events by 2050?” last Fall. One change to note in this sector since last year, is that more and more of the events are no longer separating “food” from “agriculture”.  When we started The Mixing Bowl just two years ago to “connect innovators in food, ag & IT” we were one of the few that looked at the application of tech from soil to stomach. 

On the funding side, there is concern about having reached a boiling point where any more heat will begin vaporization, and thus I wrote the post “The Coming Sag in Agtech”. We have deep concern that much of the funding in this segment is misguided in that it is not aligned with the current real innovation challenges in food and agriculture. Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 is a false design challenge. I sincerely hope that we don’t see food/agtech go the way of cleantech where we fall victim to our own hype. In this regard, I’ll end with a statement I wrote a year ago that still proves true today:

“For those of us leading the charge in this space, it behooves us to avoid the fate of past tech fads and not lose sight of the bigger goal of responsibly raising and sustaining awareness of the real needs and real opportunities for tech innovation in the food and agriculture space.”

Rob Trice, Founder, The Mixing Bowl