Rabobank’s FoodBytes! Selects 10 Startups to Pitch in SF

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Rabobank, the food and agribusiness bank, has announced the finalists for its upcoming FoodBytes! San Francisco pitch competition. On June 16, the selected 10 companies will get a five-minute spot to sell the judges on their business in addition to a five-minute question and answer session with the audience of investors, media, entrepreneurs, and other industry members.

Among this year’s competitors, a few themes standout including seafood and aquaculture, a segment of the agtech segment that’s been little served by the entrepreneur and venture capital communities until recently.

Finalists innovating in these sectors include:

  •  New Wave Foods – New Wave Foods is a sustainable seafood company that is hoping to create food that is healthier and better for the environment while providing ingredients for outstanding culinary experiences.
  •  Olakai, Inc. – In the Hawaiian language, Olakai means “health from the sea.” With a mission of building transformative technologies to bring sustainably grown foods from the oceans to people everywhere, Olakai also aims to enhance plant culture and cultivation in saltwater aquaponic systems.
  • Salty Girl Seafood, Inc. – Salty Girl Seafood was founded out of a love for the ocean and the belief that serving sustainable, traceable seafood dishes should be fun and easy. Their seafood is portioned and entirely traceable back to the fishermen or fishing community where it was caught.
  •  Seamore – Seamore has launched “I sea pasta,” a 100% seaweed product that resembles tagliatelle pasta. Seamore aims to unlock the true potential of the world’s most sustainable food: seaweed.

Other finalists are focused on increasing access to nutritious food:

  •  Byte Foods – Byte uses RFID-enabled refrigerators to sell fresh food 24/7 in areas deemed “food deserts,” which the USDA defines as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods.
  •  Chapul – Chapul is aiming to introduce edible insects into Western cuisine as a nutritious and sustainable protein. The company sells a line of gourmet energy bars containing a signature protein powder derived from crickets worldwide.
  • Imperfect Produce – Imperfect Produce works directly with farmers to find a home for “ugly” unwanted produce that’s often left on the farm, through a produce delivery subscription in the Bay Area. The company’s prices are 30-50% less expensive than grocery stores due to the visual imperfections of the produce.
  • The Salad Bar Nutrition Company – The Salad Bar offers a new way for healthy professionals to increase their vegetable intake while on-the-go. Both of their delicious flavors, Carrot Spice & Kale Quinoa, deliver a full serving of veggies, a ton of fiber and don’t have any added sugar.

The remaining startups include:

  • Soliculture – Guided by the belief that greenhouse growing is critical to the future of agriculture because of the pressures of climate variability, Soliculture is hoping to reduce the capital costs associated with greenhouse growing by integrating solar technology into greenhouse roofs.
  • HarvestPort – HarvestPort is a shared economy marketplace for seasonally used agricultural equipment, giving farmers the option to rent equipment in peak season, and earn revenues off-season by lending idle machinery.

“With nearly 200 applicants, we’re thrilled to announce the 10 finalists that will share their innovative businesses at FoodBytes! San Francisco,” Manuel Gonzalez, head of western region for Rabobank North America Wholesale and founder of FoodBytes! said in a recent press release. “It’s great to see such a wide variety of startups that are eager to share their food and ag tech innovations with the world. We’re excited to give the stage to these companies to highlight their passion and amazing ideas.”

Rabobank has selected several additional runners-up to give 60-second pitches during the opening reception of FoodBytes! San Francisco, including household food waste fighters Foodfully, fermented and probiotic food makers genuine grub, food safety database developers Hazel Analytics, social network MeWe, healthy food finder ShopWell, insect-based chip maker Six Foods, volcanic water bottler Waiakea, plant-based dairy alternative developer Willow Cup, and biochar crop input provider Charborn.

Other startups that are interested in pitching at the event will be given the opportunity to register for the open mic session on the day of the event.

The winning company will be selected according to the attendee’s popular vote and invited to attend a number of Rabobank events designed to create networking opportunities and exposure for the prevailing startup.

In March 2016, vegetable-based sweetener company True Made Foods won the FoodBytes! Brooklyn pitch competition, pooling the votes from over 250 attendees. In 2015, the inaugural and second FoodBytes! Events took place in San Francisco 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, which is also an AgFunder alumnus.

Each of these winners and runner-ups has secured multi-million dollar funding deals. Search for details on each.

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