In this new series, we highlight accelerators and incubators that are offering assistance to food startups across the country. Here, we feature FoodBytes! by Rabobank, which pairs innovative food and agriculture concepts with the capital needed to bring them to market, through a pitch competition-meets-networking event. This year's events will take place in New York City, Netherlands and Austin, Texas, and are open to participants worldwide. We talked with Manuel Gonzalez, North America Head of StartUp Innovation for Rabobank.
What type of companies do you assist?
FoodBytes!: Through FoodBytes!, we assist startups within the food, beverage and agribusiness sectors that share a commitment to finding groundbreaking innovations in food and agriculture. We help companies that demonstrate industry creativity, sustainable practices, growth potential and social innovation.
What’s your mission in doing this work?
FoodBytes!: As the world rapidly changes, we believe that it is crucial to encourage, support and promote an ecosystem full of different business models and viewpoints that will drive innovative solutions to the global food challenge of feeding more and more people in a sustainable way. FoodBytes! was created with the simple mission of uncovering the most groundbreaking global concepts in food and agriculture, and pair those ideas with the capital needed to bring them to market. Through our Banking for Food vision, we aim to contribute to the four dimensions of food security—increasing the availability of food, improving access to food, promoting healthy nutrition and increasing stability.
What attributes are you looking for in applicants?
FoodBytes!: We are looking for startups that are creative and passionate about pioneering the future of food and agriculture. We are interested in applicants that can react quickly and efficiently within this rapidly evolving ecosystem. The criteria for selection differs slightly depending on the startup genre. For example, sustainability focused startups should focus on the triple bottom line: people, profit and planet, while a technology focused startup must provide a competitive advantage. All companies should have a plan to scale and have a social impact!
What one piece of advice do you have for entrepreneurs?
FoodBytes!: My one piece of advice for entrepreneurs is to embrace your passion and never be afraid of failure. Passion scales, and failing forward is the right way to learn and move on. You never know when your idea could turn into tomorrow’s solution.
What is your favorite project to come out of your accelerator?
FoodBytes!: Now, that’s a difficult question. I am incredibly proud of our FoodBytes! alumni and their ability to sustain growth while improving on social impacts. I continue to be impressed by the wide variety of innovations that come out of FoodBytes! For example, Mad Agriculture harnesses the nutrient recycling abilities of insects to turn food waste into feed supplement, while Kuli Kuli provides protein alternatives that are rich in iron, calcium and antioxidants. And it is very difficult not to mention other great innovations, new business models and ways of relating to the consumer just as companies like Back to the Roots, Imperfect Produce and LoveTheWild do. Or the great science done by companies like DouxMatok, Myco and N-Chroma. FoodBytes! is a lot about the discovery, and we have certainly learned a lot from all the companies that have been on stage with us.