In this series, New Hope Network covers the ins and outs of accelerators and incubators across the United States that provide mentorship, funds and resources to help grow natural businesses. Here, Sarah Sha, Good Food Makers Director at KitchenTown, explains how Barilla’s Venture Group, BLU1877, partners with KitchenTown to select a small group of young companies from around the world to work directly with teams from Barilla in developing and implementing innovative business solutions.
What: Good Food Markers, an 8-week program with a $10,000 grant designed around co-developing and executing on a pilot project with Barilla.
When: The planning between startups and Barilla teams starts in September and the pilot projects run from October to December.
Notable alumni: Renewal Mill, ReGrained, reBLEND
When are Good Food Makers applications open, and when is the application deadline?
Good Food Makers applications for Fall 2021 are open now and are rolling. Winning startups will be notified by September 2021.
What types of companies does Good Food Makers assist?
Good Food Makers is open to food and food tech companies from anywhere in the world that have at least a minimum viable product on the market that relates to one of this year’s challenge areas:
- Circular Economy: solutions to upcycle three specific side streams—pasta regrind, wheat bran and bread crust—in order to create a healthy, safe and nutritious circular food system.
- Better Food Delivery: creative solutions in preparation, delivery logistics, automation, packaging, recipe development and more to deliver high-quality meal experiences—in particular for pasta—through new restaurant and delivery channels.
- Digital Nutrition Guides: digital platforms to co-develop transparent, honest and accurate guides for nutrition, well-being, sustainability or even just what to put in your shopping cart.
- Easy Meal Routines: better-for-you meal services, kits or products to meet busy eaters where they are without sacrificing on nutrition or sustainability.
What’s your mission in doing this work?
BLU1877 launched Good Food Makers as the ultimate open innovation tool for Barilla to support the work of those creating the future of food and develop long-term partnerships. Barilla is 144-year-old company with a long-term vision of feeding people with sustainable products. This accelerator is a way to keep challenging the status quo, stay on top of emerging trends and technologies and collaborate with entrepreneurs who share a vision of making food that’s “good for you and good for the planet.”
What top attributes is Good Food Makers looking for in applicants?
Applicants should be ready to jump in and co-develop a project that results in actionable solutions. Good Food Makers is looking for passionate food systems entrepreneurs who understand the urgency of scaling solutions.
What is one game-changing piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs?
You don’t have to know how to do everything—just make sure you find the right people who do. Participating in an accelerator like Good Food Makers is an important chance to develop long-term relationships with people who will be your cheerleaders and mentors for those inevitable questions about product, brand, operations or anything else you need as your company grows.
What is your favorite project to have come out of Good Food Makers?
It’s impossible to pick just one! We’ve been able to pilot technologies for traceability (Connecting Food), alternative channels (Plant Jammer), personalized meals (Anycart) and regenerative agriculture (Smart Cloud Farming). We’ve dug into the nutrition, food science and manufacturing needs for a range of healthy CPG products (such as reBLEND, YouPeas and The Organic Pantry Co.) and alternative proteins (Planetarians). We’ve had an especially strong track record with upcycling and circular economy companies (ReGrained and Renewal Mill). The specific results of the pilot projects are still internal, however I can share that all 10 of the projects so far have been hugely valuable for Barilla. And it’s mutual. The startups have unanimously expressed how valuable it is to tap into Barilla’s internal expertise. This video shows a few of last year’s participants talking about their experience.