FoodBytes! is a relatively new event in the food and beverage networking calendar, but it is one that is growing at a phenomenal speed. Launched last year by organiser Rabobank – the premier bank to the food, agribusiness and beverage industry – FoodBytes! celebrates innovation in the industry, helps entrepreneurs and start-ups meet investors and “creates a platform to turn today’s new ideas and technologies into tomorrow’s solutions”. Their first two events were held in San Francisco last year, but this year the team have expanded the event to three major US cities, Brooklyn, San Francisco and Boulder. We spoke with Manuel Gonzalez, head of western region at Rabobank, about the event, the success of last year and plans for 2016.
Tell us about FoodBytes! What’s the aim of the event and why was it started up?
FoodBytes! Brooklyn is the latest in a series of conferences we created to foster new ideas in food, innovation and technology, and bring them together with investors. This will be the first FoodBytes! event on the East Coast. Rabobank has partnered with SF New Tech, San Francisco’s largest and longest running tech showcase company (who produced the 2015 events), and Food + Tech Connect, the New-York based site for the food tech and innovation sector to bring FoodBytes! to a new audience.
What were some of the highlights from the 2015 event?
We had our first two FoodBytes! events in San Francisco last year and both were considered successes for Rabobank. The events were sold out with broad audiences looking to hear first-hand from unique food and ag-tech start-up companies, and discuss new businesses and trends in the industry.
The companies that stood out at the 2015 events were:
· Patrick’s Fine Sodas, a beverage startup specialising in healthy, probiotic sodas
· AgerPoint, developers of industry-leading technologies that redefine data acquisition, analysis, and translation for growers of fruit bearing trees and vines
· Tiny Farms, a platform for the production and distribution of insects as commodity agricultural products
· Back to the Roots, a startup specialising in “ready-to-grow” and “ready-to-eat” products
· MycoTechnology, a food processing platform that uses gourmet fungi to transform agricultural products taste, value and nutritional characteristics. Each of these companies either won or were runners-up in our FoodBytes! People’s Choice Award.
Tell us about how a company pitches their ideas to investors.
Each company selected to demo at FoodBytes! is given the opportunity to present for five minutes to a room filled of investors, business leaders, technologists, media, and others. Once the live demonstration is over, each company will then answer questions from the audience for five minutes. Above and beyond the ten chosen companies, about 20 companies are either chosen in advance or invited on the day to present a 60-second pitch about their company to FoodBytes! attendees – it’s a fast-paced and exciting part of the event.
You’ve got three events in 2016, your first in March. How are the preparations coming along?
Preparations are coming along well. We’re currently fielding submissions from companies to demo in March with the first five companies being announced last Friday 12 February. The other five will be announced later in the month once applications have closed. Edible Brooklyn and Gothamist have come on-board as our media partners and we will be announcing our guest speakers and sponsors in the coming weeks.
What do you hope to achieve at this year’s shows?
There are so many great start-up companies in the food, agriculture and beverage space doing great innovative work, and that’s why we created FoodBytes! We want to create new opportunities for start-ups in new markets, and at the same time give investors looking to finance the next bright idea in food a place to meet these new and innovative companies that are disrupting across the food chain, and in food-related software and applications, distribution, manufacturing, production and more. We hope to create a match, either now or in the future.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019