The first FoodBytes! Summit for 2016 is set to take place in Brooklyn, New York, on March 3, 2016, and applications are now open. Developed by food and agriculture bank Rabobank, the series is dedicated to helping food industry investors connect with new companies disrupting the current food production chain. Major partners include food innovation and resource platform Food+Tech Connect and monthly Bay Area networking event host SF New Tech.
Rabobank will select 10 companies from the pool of applicants to give five-minute pitches at the event. The 10 demo teams will receive some support regarding presentation prep, but Manuel Gonzalez, managing director at Rabobank and lead on the initiative, wants to encourage originality.
“We like the diversity, and we like to see their individualities show in the presentations. We favor that over a more formulaic approach,” Gonzalez told AgFunderNews. “Be yourself, talk about what you do, what problem you solve, who is your team, why you will succeed, and practice!”
The winning company is selected in a vote by the attendees, and invited to attend Rabobank Client Appreciation Events at the Plaza Hotel in New York City during December 2016, invite-only gatherings bringing together food and agribusiness industry leaders.
The first two FoodBytes! Events took place in San Francisco during February and March 2015, with mini mushroom farm developer Back to the Roots and probiotic soft drink maker Patrick’s Fine Sodas each winning a People’s Choice Award. Runner-ups included scalable insect farming specialists Tiny Farms, organic, non-GMO, and chemical-free mushroom-derived flavor maker MycoTechnology, and tree and vine-based crop operational management solutions developer Agerpoint.
“Brooklyn is not only a very experimental foodie place but also a hotbed for food entrepreneurs,” said Gonzalez. “It seemed a natural progression after two events in San Francisco.” Gonzalez predicts an impressive list of attendees for the Brooklyn event, including the East Coast venture capital community and the VC arms of major food companies in the region. He also suspects some accelerators will be in attendance.
Two remaining 2016 FoodBytes! events include the third annual FoodBytes! San Francisco summit in June, followed by FoodBytes! Boulder in Colorado during October.
As Rabobank’s growing roster of events indicates, investment in food tech is heating up. “Today, we see a more diverse group of investors, in particular from the tech world, coming into food,” said Gonzalez. “In the past, it was more of a ‘food insider’ world dominated by the established companies. Today, there are more and more people from outside of the traditional food world coming in and investing in very innovative ideas.”
Although Gonzalez sees this as a continuing trend, he believes that natural attrition will thin the competition, particularly when it comes to investors who lack the patience that investing in food and ag companies requires.
Applications for FoodBytes! Brooklyn close at 5 pm on Thursday, February 18. For more information and instructions on applying, click here.
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