Food-X Brings Growth to Start-Ups Affecting Positive Change in the Food System

Katie Opalinska

Food-X is the first international businesses accelerator dedicated to food ventures. They’ve been helping grow the food movement since 2014 by partnering with nascent companies producing game-changing ideas, including Green Blender, Next Door Organics, and Local Food Lab. They help bring out the best out of every start-up by equipping entrepreneurs with marketing tools, a network of mentors, office space, and a comprehensive business education program. Funded by Sean O’Sullivan’s SOS Ventures and founded by activist and Food Tank board member Shen Tong, it is an unparalleled opportunity for aspiring food entrepreneurs to gain priceless resources unavailable elsewhere, such as a US$50,000 investment, guidance from experienced advisors, and media exposure. The accelerator is currently taking applications for its Spring 2016 accelerator program—entrepreneurs interested in joining the team should apply no later than December 31, 2015. Those who know someone with a blooming idea are encouraged to pass the link along! 

Serial entrepreneur and foodie Shen Tong helped organize the democracy movement in China in 1989 as a student at Beijing University. Upon moving to the United States, he founded B&B Media, VFinity, and other ventures. He now continues to champion for his social and environmental values by improving the food system with Food-X. “[The food system] is a direct democracy,” he said. “Every one of us eats, you’re voting every time you eat something. There, you have a real behavior change that’s calling for an alternative. That’s where the opportunity is.” Tong started Food Next with Fresh Direct partnership, and will not run the accelerator, but will continue to invest in the 25 portfolio companies of the last 3 cohorts on behalf of SOSV and other investment partners.

While the portfolio is about to expand with a brand new cohort, not every early-stage food company can make the cut. Food-X welcomes only a select few businesses that “affect positive change and disruption in the food system, particularly around healthful eating and sustainable farming and distribution.” Its latest cohort of start-ups includes the following movers and shakers: 

  1. Bizzy Coffee: Like many entrepreneurs, founders of Bizzy sought to solve their own problem. Becoming increasingly frustrated with the toxicity of energy drinks and the inconvenience of drip coffee, they created a natural and easy-to-obtain energy source to power them through their corporate jobs: cold brew coffee, which they call the “healthiest and most convenient coffee on the market.”
  2. Booster: 80 percent of the world’s farms are small enterprises with a lack of access to information and modern agricultural technology. The team behind Booster is well aware that these farmers must increase their productivity by 70 percent in order to feed 9.1 billion people in 2050. They will have to do so with less water and less fuel—a difficult feat requiring currently evolving AgTech. Booster analyzes data from a wide range of global sources—previously only accessible to large corporate farms—transforming it to inexpensive, easily obtained content available through mobile phones.
  3. ChugaChaga: Chaga is an extremely nutrient-dense mushroom with a hard texture, similar to the trees it grows on. High in copper, calcium, potassium, and many more minerals, it’s inconvenient to obtain and consume. ChugaChaga is an organic, ethically harvested tea crafted from this unique tree growth, making it simple for consumers to benefit from its unique nutritional properties in a variety of flavors. 
  4. CookMood: A platform for online live streaming cooking classes, CookMood brings people from around the world to teach and learn together. From those new to the kitchen looking to broaden their skills to professional chefs looking to earn extra money while sharing their knowledge, everyone is welcome to join the community. 
  5. Crema: Crema is an app that contains a database of independent coffee shops in the user’s area, rewarding consumers for shopping locally with a point system that gives back with free coffee and rebates. The app is about more than just coffee—the founders of Crema believe that “consuming local is the best way to keep your city identity.” 
  6. Forkyoo: Forkyoo helps users learn to cook dishes from their favorite restaurants at home, allowing them to purchase recipes and ingredients straight from the source. The company has formed partnerships in the East Village neighborhood of New York City with diverse, local chefs that “produce delicious, seasonal, and ingredient-driven meals.” Forkyoo’s reach is set to grow wider but began with the East Village for its varied eating options, ranging from Australian to Georgian cuisine and beyond. 
  7. GIVN Goods: GIVN Goods is water that “tastes like Fiji and gives like Toms.” Bottled at the source in Wisconsin, this premium spring water has no additives and is high in electrolytes. For every bottle sold, GIVN funds an entire day of clean water for someone in need. 
  8. TRUEnergy: TRUEnergy is a natural energy shot infused with green tea caffeine, electrolytes, vitamins, antioxidants, and honey with only 15 calories per serving. Unlike its competitors, it is not over-caffeinated, artificially sweetened, or overloaded with unnecessary ingredients. 
  9. Wakati: Wakati helps solve the problem of food waste by tackling it at the distribution level. Because 45 percent of produce spoils before reaching the market, the founders of Wakati have developed an innovative technology that increases its shelf life with the use of a sterilized microclimate, using less than 1 percent of the energy of a refrigerator. 

Food-X recently held their Food-Xcel event on December 3, 2015, where their latest cohort of food companies was debuted. The event featured David McInerney of FreshDirect and Urvashi Rangan of Consumer Safety as keynote speakers, along with pitches from the members of the cohort. You can watch the event HERE