Connection and community: two words that came up over and over again during our September 7th event “Startup Pitch Night: Focus on FoodTech” as our pitching companies discussed the ways that food can connect citizens to their city, businesses to their employees, and people to their own bodies and each other. Food itself is often a community experience: the discovery of it, the preparation of it, and the sharing of it; food lends itself well to digital connectedness—the kind that Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are known for. “Everything has been subject to the digital revolution except for food. It’s overdue,” said Startup Pitch Night judge Renkse Lynde. We agree.Meet the pitching companies and their stories below:
First up was Friendly Reminders, a shareable culinary profile app aimed at taking the stress out of dining out. Coordinating food for a group—whether creating an dinner party menu or ordering lunch for an entire company—is a task in and of itself; allergies, dietary restrictions, even the changing conversation around health and diet can make meal-planning a challenge. The MyFriendlyReminders app makes it easy to check up on what your guests can or can’t eat without having to ask.
World Cup Tech Challenge 2016 finalists Aromyx are digitizing taste and scent, essentially allowing users to (legally!) reverse-engineer a recipe or blend—a patented technology with enormous potential to create cheaper, healthier recipes with the same end-result. Aromyx sells a patent-protected, portable platform that puts human olfactory and taste receptors onto a disposable biosensor, in a stable and cost-effective way.
Pitching for the first time anywhere, Conscious Essentials introduced us to their Protein Milkshake, a formulation of gluten free, low carb, low calorie, non-GMO, naturally sweetened, ethically sourced Premium Protein Powders created to work with heath goals and cravings, not against them. With a customer base ranging from Hollywood millennials to patients recovering from bariatric surgery, Protein Milkshake boasts of 11 different tasty flavors, a new vegan line, and a brand-new app currently in the works.
Bringing the best of your city to your doorstep, Jarly is an easy, fun way to discover local baked goods, delivered fresh (often same-day baked!) to your door. Each month, Jarly brings their customers a new box filled with a local artisan baker’s best treats (our Startup Pitch Night judges were treated to chocolates from Jarly’s home state Florida). Jarly is like the Birchbox for fresh baked goods, and through our platform we connect local bakeries to customers seeking treats made in their communities.
Oakland’s The Town Kitchen is bringing the Bay Area tasty lunches and creating jobs for low-income youth—a double-header of upscale meals and social good. As a community-driven food business, The Town Kitchen delivers chef-quality lunches that are crafted and locally-sourced through a community of growers, food makers, chefs and youth. The company’s vision is to create community through local food; a community where underserved Oakland youth can meet both talented chefs and start-up entrepreneurs, gaining the skills and network to pursue a better future.
Bringing the farmer’s market right to your doorstep, Zipmesh delivers fresh food from local farmers and artisans—picked, packed, and shipped all on the same day. As the conversation around the food we eat has created more of a demand for fresh, local, whole foods, Zipmesh’s platform has a great deal of potential to meet that demand right at the door—literally.
Got a sweet tooth? Winning company Miraculex has you covered—they’re developing the best-tasting and healthiest protein sweeteners on the market, allowing consumers to enjoy the foods they crave while consuming far less sugar. Synthesized via ag-tech and molecular biology, protein-based sweeteners are super-potent (letting you use less sugar to achieve the same taste) and Miraculex’s patent-pending production system is poised to open a whole world of sweet possibilities.
Thank-you to our startup judges Mike Zeliger of K&L Gates, Brian Frank of FTW Ventures, Renske Lynde of Food System 6 Accelerator, and Mike Rose of The Mixing Bowl—as well as our amazing moderator Max Shapiro of PeopleConnect Staffing. We’re also grateful to our host and Startup Pitch Night partner K&L Gates LLP.
Author: Micaela Youmans
Head of Ops. and Communication