Cooking Up the Next Class at Techstars Farm to Fork

The 2019 Techstars Farm to Fork class is composed of an incredibly diverse set of amazing people and ideas. Founders will be joining us in Saint Paul, Minnesota from all over the world including companies from Australia, Canada, India, Israel and the United States!  

Agri-food, food tech, farm to fork – as more and more people take notice of this vertical more names for it are created. Regardless of how you refer to the space, our focus for the program continues to be tech-enabled startups, software, hardware & IoT, that want to solve big problems in the food world. This year’s class truly represents technology that will impact the industry from farms all the way to the fork.     

Our mentors from Cargill, Ecolab, and our broader startup community look forward to diving in to help these founders build big companies that will change the world. Personally, I am excited to work with these founders, not just for the next three months, but for the rest of their entrepreneurial careers. They are passionate, hardworking and smart.

Please join us in welcoming the Techstars Farm to Fork Class of 2019!

Transparent Kitchen (Ottawa, CA)

Transparent Kitchen is transforming the future of dining and sustainability by helping restaurants use data to create personalized experiences for their customers. Their first product turns a restaurant’s PDF menu into an interactive digital experience to optimize a customer’s experience and help the restaurant better understand how to act on predictive insights into their customer base.

transparentkitchen.com

Trackter (Atlanta, GA)

Trackter is a total fresh produce supply chain management solution. They allow companies to connect buyers, shippers, and logistics partners in a system that automates communications between these stakeholders in order to reduce phone calls, emails, and repetitive data entry – to ultimately enable all parties to generate higher profit margins. 

trackter.us

Purpics (Austin, TX)

Founded on the idea “pictures with purpose,” PurPics connects brands to everyday consumers over a cause. The platform drives 10x higher engagement for brands, enabling businesses to better engage and understand the next generation of consumers. For users, PurPics empowers them to promote the brands they love to raise funds for the causes they care about.  

purpics.com

Phood (Boston, MA)

Commercial food waste prevention through AI. Phood is helping food service establishments understand, evaluate, and control their food waste with the power of machine vision.

phoodsolutions.com

Otrafy (Vancouver, CA)

Otrafy is a supply-chain management platform that runs on a track and trace model with a focus on data sharing and product history. They provide digital integration between farm, manufacturing and retail supply chain for ongoing tracking of relevant production information.

otrafy.com

Imago AI (Gurgaon, India)

ImagoAI is building a new standard of food quality. It helps companies increase their revenue by providing superior food quality and reducing food wastage in the supply chain. It’s artificial intelligence platform analyse food quality parameters in real time at production grade speed and also detect foreign object contamination.

imagoai.com

Food For All (Boston, MA)

Food For All believes that food should be tasted, not wasted. With their app, consumers can find and enjoy meals from restaurants for at least 50% of their original cost. For restaurants, this means an extra revenue stream and a great story surrounding the prevention of food waste.

foodforall.com

EcoPlant (Kibbutz Gevim, Israel)

EcoPlant provides Industrial IoT energy efficiency as a service. EcoPlant has developed a SaaS solution that connects to air compressors’ controllers and pipeline sensors to continuously monitor, control, and optimize the entire system. Using predictive AI algorithms, EcoPlant conducts ongoing energy surveys and dynamically controls each compressor, as well as the entire system, to significantly reduce energy waste and optimize maintenance.

ecoplant.co

ConverSight.ai (Indianapolis, IN)

ConverSight.ai is providing business insights through natural interaction and conversation. The platform creates and aggregates actionable data to help business leaders to make informed decisions without having to manually create reports or spend money on developing additional digital infrastructure.

conversight.ai

Contain (Reno, NV)

Contain Inc is a fintech platform dedicated to indoor growers, those farming in warehouses, greenhouses and container farms.  Our platform solves indoor growers’ largest issue, finding funding, through data-driven leasing and insurance products.

contain.ag








Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator – 2018 Results & 2019 Vision

2018 – The Results

Our first Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator Class, in partnership with Cargill and Ecolab, completed our first program this past October.

Applications poured in from 40+ countries resulting in the selection of nine amazing companies from all over the world. More than 100 mentors participated over the course of the program and over 40 venture capital firms met with the companies during 13 weeks of Techstars Farm to Fork.

The nine companies that attended the program represented an incredible breadth of concepts: from restaurant tech to supply chain to manufacturing and digital solutions for farms. Our corporate partners Cargill & Ecolab were both highly engaged in the program, providing invaluable access to subject matter experts and industry executives. This engagement led to POC’s, investment, and ongoing talks with seven of the companies that went through the program, and two of the nine companies are staying in the St. Paul area to further build their businesses and brands within the twin cities ecosystem.

We are excited to continue to support and work with the 2018 class as they move onto the next phase of their entrepreneurial journey. Check out this documentary on the first class of Techstars Farm to Fork to learn more about their journey.

Looking to 2019

We are thrilled for year two of Techstars Farm to Fork and have already begun meeting companies that are interested in our 2019 class. Applications open January 7th!

In year two of program, we are excited to work with companies building tech enabled businesses, software, or hardware focused on solving global problems in the food world. This includes US-based businesses as well as businesses from other developed nations and emerging markets.

We have a broad scope in focus: on farm, supply chain and logistics, processing and manufacturing, water tech and restaurants, and even companies building platforms for large enterprises! Ultimately, we want to work with great entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds that are working on world-changing ideas. While not a complete list, here are four broad areas of focus for our 2019 Techstars Farm to Fork program:

Robotics and Automation

Labor shortages, safety and the state of technology have all created an environment ripe for robotics and automation across the entire food value chain. Manufacturing, cleaning, pest control, warehouse management, supply chain, restaurants and food production are all arenas where we are interested in exploring solutions.  

Platforms

Food is the largest industry on the planet, estimated at about 10% of the world’s GDP. There are a variety of platforms that may not be “food” specific but can be leveraged by enterprises in food, like Cargill, Ecolab, and their food industry partners. If you are building a tech platform and food companies are an interesting market, you could be a good fit. A few specific examples:

  •        Workforce Management
  •        Employee Safety
  •        Data Acquisition
  •        Computer Vision/ML
  •        Predictive Modeling

Food Safety, Quality Assurance, and Security

Food safety is a worldwide issue and continues to be a focus for our program. We are interested in digital solutions anywhere in the food value chain from real time pathogen and allergen detection to predictive risk assessments. We continue to be interested in the traceability of food throughout the supply chain, including real-time sensing and monitoring. The utilization of different computer vision and imaging technologies for things like QA, safety checks, and the monitoring of food could have a major impact on food safety and security. We are also interested in the management and reduction of food waste as it impacts food safety, quality, and security.

Water Tech

Water tech is a new area of interest for us in 2019. The food industry uses approximately 70% of the fresh water consumed on an annual basis, so this focus is a natural fit for our program. Specifically, we are interested in technologies that help ensure access to sufficient clean water for those that need it. This could include, but is not limited to, a variety of concepts, including non-invasive contamination monitoring and detection, new methods of conservation, and smart water usage.

Join us for 2019

From farms to restaurants and retailers, we want to help entrepreneurs build technology with the potential to have a significant impact on the food world. These four buckets are just a starting point, and this is not an all-inclusive list. Check out last year’s thesis, as there are more concepts there that continue to interest us. We will inevitably be blown away by unique concepts we haven’t thought of, so if you have a great team and a big vision we want to hear from you.  

Request office hours, one-on-one time with program staff to share details of what you’re working on and learn more about the accelerator. Or, if you’re ready, start your application on January 7th!








Announcing the 2018 Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator Class

We are thrilled to announce Techstars Class 136 – the 2018 Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator Class. Today, in St. Paul, Minn., these companies begin their work solving real problems across the entire food value chain, from food safety to supply chain management and restaurant efficiencies to the upcycling of food waste. The companies join the Techstars worldwide network, which includes more than 1,200 companies across the globe.  

In December, we announced our partnership with Cargill and Ecolab. Our goal is to build a world-class Techstars mentorship-driven Accelerator program focused on helping entrepreneurs solve some of the world’s biggest food challenges. The last six months have been a whirlwind of travel, scouting and meeting with hundreds of exceptional entrepreneurs from across the globe.

The entrepreneurs powering these companies traveled to St. Paul from several states across the U.S., India, Canada and Brazil. While in Minnesota, the companies will have access to more than a hundred mentors, including business leaders and subject matter experts from Cargill, Ecolab and our amazing entrepreneurial community.

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, and I am excited to jump in to help this outstanding group take their businesses to the next level.

The Techstars Farm to Fork 2018 Class:

Big Wheelbarrow

Big Wheelbarrow makes it easy for companies to buy from local farms using the power of AI.

dishq

dishq leverages food science and artificial intelligence to predict people’s tastes. We’re helping the industry with key challenges including recommendations and personalization, menu and product development, and insights and trends.

EIO Diagnostics

EIO improves the lives of dairy farmers by early detection of illnesses in their animals.

HeavyConnect

HeavyConnect allows every farm to eliminate paper bottle necks, from food safety compliance to hourly time-keeping.

IFS

Induction Food System’s industrial heating technology helps food and beverage manufacturers improve efficiency and expand production with on-demand precision heating equipment.

pepr

Pepr increases restaurant profitability using data intelligence and automation.

Renewal Mill

Renewal Mill is building a more sustainable food system by harvesting byproducts from food manufacturing and upcycling them into high-quality ingredients and delicious products.

TradeLanes

TradeLanes is a global trade market network that connects all trade participants into a single document chain over the lifecycle of an international trade shipment. This “single source of truth” saves exporters 30-80% on supply chain management.

Traive

Traive enables affordable farming loans and profitable investment portfolios through an innovative data-driven credit risk assessment algorithm.








Global Applications for the Techstars Worldwide Network are Now Open!

There’s an often-repeated stat that 90 percent of startups fail. Not sure the source is, but no doubt that it scares entrepreneurs. At Techstars, we see the reverse in our accelerator portfolio – 90 percent of our startups are active or have successfully exited. Which statistic reflects your business? If you’re ready to succeed, take the next step and apply now to the Techstars worldwide network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders.

At Techstars, we are on a mission to help entrepreneurs succeed. Our mentorship-driven accelerator programs invest in founders to help them do more faster. Over the past 10 years we have helped over 1,274 companies grow and raise over $4.4 billion in funding, with a market cap of $11.4 billion. Now, we are excited to start the search for the next wave of companies to join our worldwide network!

We are reaching new regions and verticals around the world with our newest mentorship-driven accelerator programs. Applications are opening for five new programs:

Take the next step in your journey and apply to join the Techstars worldwide network with more than 10,000 mentors, partners, investors and founders.

This is more than a three month program, the Techstars worldwide network is for life. Listen to stories about our founders from Techstars alumni companies like SendGrid, ClassPass, and DigitalOcean.

Application deadline is April 8, 2018 for most programs. We will be announcing details for information sessions and online events where you can connect with Techstars founders and team, as well as mentors who have the experience and proven track record to help you succeed. Be on the lookout for more details soon!

When you apply, you can choose from any of the following locations and verticals:

For tips and resources on the application process, check out our Application Toolkit.








Future of Food Panel Series Part 1: Future of Agriculture

Date: February 22, 2018
Time: 6-8:30PM
Location: CIC Boston – Lighthouse 20th floor, 50 Milk Street, Boston, MA 02110
 

Local Boston startups have been developing new tools to advance current agriculture practices including seed innovation, hydroponics, satellite imagery and robotics. Join Branchfood and members of Boston’s agriculture technology sector to discuss the latest products on the market, how to launch and grow a successful business and how technology innovation is driving change in agriculture. At this event you’ll get to connect with commercial agriculture technology leaders, advisors, entrepreneurs, and get to check out the latest products and technologies at our showcase. 

Schedule:

Event Networking & Demos begins at 6:00 pm
Panel Discussion starts at 6:45 pm
Event ends at 8:30 pm

2. Registration link

http://bit.ly/FoF2018

Interested in Office Hours? Register here: https://f2fboston1.youcanbook.me

 








Planting the Seed for Techstars Farm to Fork

‘Farm to Fork’ – almost everyone has an immediate reaction or assumption when they hear this phrase. We are excited to partner with Cargill and Ecolab and I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what we are thinking about for the first Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator.

Broadly speaking, the digital side of the food value chain is of most interest to us. This could be companies building smart devices, working with big data, artificial intelligence or creating a new software solution. Challenges to food are not limited by geography nor rural or urban settings.

The space is incredibly broad and there is no way we could put together an exhaustive list of opportunities that may catch our eye, but here are a few specific areas of interest to get us started:

Farm Productivity

Two easy questions to ask when defining this bucket: Does it make a farmer’s life better, more sustainable or more productive? How can we help farmers do more with less? From weather and climate to animal health and productivity to computer vision, this bucket alone is big. Here are a few more areas of interest:

  • Automation
  • Smart Water Usage
  • Ag Finance
  • Payment Systems
  • VR/AR
  • Yield Management/Prediction
  • Risk Management
  • Animal Health / Animal Productivity
  • Weather/Climate Systems
  • Drones
  • Storage
  • Robotics
  • Credit
  • Computer Vision

Food & Safety

A very popular topic in 2017, food & safety will continue to be a hot topic into the foreseeable future. When we think about food safety, we think about it across the entire value chain. This includes the safety of employees working in the space, the safety of the end consumer – anyone that eats, pest control and animal health and safety. Big data, machine vision, blockchain, and new software systems are all tools entrepreneurs are using to tackle these problems and we are excited to see what’s out there. For us food safety goes beyond just “safe food.”

Food Retail & Restaurants

How and where consumers find and eat their food is changing. Is technology going to have the same effect on brick and mortar grocers or restaurants that it has had on traditional retailers? We have already seen several trends begin to take off that are driven by technology including food with a story, farm to consumer, food ecommerce, and food delivery all of which are interesting. Beyond these how entrepreneurs tackle prepackaged foods, restaurant management and health and nutrition could all be interesting. I am excited to see how entrepreneurs are innovating in this space.

Food Manufacturing & Supply Chain

Another really large bucket, it’s everything between the farm and the fork! I have always loved companies tackling real problems in areas that may be a bit less “sexy.” From machinery to the financial tools that make the supply chain run, there is a ton of potential here. Here are a few themes in this space that are interesting:

  • Traceability
  • Sustainable Supply Chain
  • Transparency
  • Blockchain
  • Cold Chain
  • Last Mile
  • AI/Robotics
  • Quality Contro
  • Energy Consumption
  • Computer Vision
  • Predictive Modeling
  • Futures and Automated Trading
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Smart Devices/IoT

Waste Management

Roughly one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. This is almost one trillion dollars worth of food each year which equates to about one billion tonnes of food. One Billion! About 2/3rd of this waste comes from industrialized countries and the other 1/3rd occurs in developing countries. The problem doesn’t stop with food; water waste is also a major issue. Tackling these problems will be a major path to feeding and providing sustainable, safe water for the world’s growing population.

 

Are you working on a solution for the areas mentioned above? Applications are open, apply today!

Feel free to send me an email to connect – brett.brohl@techstars.com. We will also be on the road over the next few months. Look out for us in NYC, Miami, San Francisco, Memphis, Kansas City, Omaha, Austin, Boston, and maybe a few others! Stay tuned to Techstars social media for updates.








Announcing Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator in Minneapolis–Saint Paul

Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed, is excited to announce the launch of the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator. It’s our first program focused on the tech/digital side of food and agriculture and I’m thrilled to be on board as the managing director.  As the name implies, we’re looking for the best entrepreneurs across the entire food value chain, from AgTech, manufacturing and supply chains, to food safety, waste reduction and traceability.

Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator will be based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and Cargill and Ecolab will be partners for this program.

Ecolab is the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services that protect people and vital resources. With 2016 sales of $13 billion and 48,000 associates, Ecolab delivers comprehensive solutions and on-site service to promote safe food, maintain clean environments, optimize water and energy use, and improve operational efficiencies for customers in the food, healthcare, energy, hospitality and industrial markets in more than 170 countries around the world.

Cargill provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Together with farmers, customers, governments and communities, we help people thrive by applying our insights and 150 years of experience. We have 155,000 employees in 70 countries who are committed to feeding the world in a responsible way, reducing environmental impact and improving the communities where we live and work.

Personally, I have been an entrepreneur and investor for most of my career. I’ve bootstrapped, raised venture capital, taken three companies to exit and have had at least one fail along the way. Entrepreneurship is my passion. I can’t think of a better platform to help fellow entrepreneurs succeed than this new program combining the Techstars worldwide network with these two powerhouse organizations in food and agriculture.

Our new mentorship-driven accelerator program will be located in the center of the food and ag tech world, The Twin Cities, where there are more than 25 billion dollar plus food and ag tech companies employing nearly 100,000 people focused on food and ag space. The program will run in Q3 2018; applications will be open on January 8, 2018.

Opportunity for Disruption

The food value chain continues to grow as an area of focus for entrepreneurs and tech investors. Why? Because the time is right for disruption! Globally, food spoilage is rampant; food safety is a growing concern, yet we don’t have the solutions to create more land or enough fresh water needed to feed the growing population. Now is the time to change the way things get done. Great entrepreneurs tackle big problems and the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator is thinking huge.

The Perfect Vertical for the Techstars Process

While there is growing interest in using technology to disrupt the space, food and ag entrepreneurs lack the attention and resources that benefit other verticals. But big players are now ready to move. Cargill and Ecolab are working with Techstars to see the global challenges and possible solutions through the eyes of entrepreneurs. They want to work closely with these innovators and help develop technologies that take advantage of opportunities and solve big problems.

Entrepreneurs shouldn’t go it alone! Both Cargill and Ecolab have broad knowledge and deep industry expertise — we leverage their resources to help entrepreneurs navigate a path from idea to impact? The Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator is the perfect platform to connect these global giants in food processing, food safety and agriculture with innovators who have ideas and technical knowledge.

Everyone wins. Because at Techstars and with our partners, we share a give-first mentality, we’re going to help entrepreneurs do more faster.

A Food and Ag Hub That’s Ready for Innovation

Choosing the Twin Cities location was strategic. Minnesota was built by food and agriculture innovators over 150 years ago along the banks of the Mississippi and it continues to be a thriving, supportive place to build a company. Today we house many of the largest food and ag companies in the world, a renowned land grant university and an ecosystem full of top talent that specializes in this vertical. Our history is food and agriculture and with programs like this food and ag tech will play a big part in the region’s future.

As the managing director of the Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator program, I’m excited to work with Cargill, Ecolab, Techstars and the best entrepreneurs in the world to disrupt food and agriculture.