It’s New York and what better place to launch a food accelerator?
Food-X is the first international business accelerator program focused on launching food-related ventures with an evergreen fund, and it’s amazing what a team can accomplish in a few short months with a bit of funding and access to score scores of entrepreneurs, nutritionists, food experts, top chefs, investors, business coaches, academicians, media and design coaches, including Dorothy Hamilton (International Culinary Institute, James Beard Foundation), Ben Cohen (Ben&Jerry), Joel Berg (NYCCAH), Sean O’Sullivan (Netflix, 500Startups), David Rose (New York Angels), Danielle Gould (Food+Tech Connect), Brad Higgins (State Department, Goldman Sachs), Charles Adler (Agency.com Kickstarter co-founder), Krysia Zajonc (Local Food Lab), Deborah Estrin (Cornel University), and Food-X founder Shen Tong (VFinity, Tiananmen activist).
Here are a handful of the companies who’ll be presenting at Food-X Demo day and seeing to it that we all eat just a little bit better.
Servy is a mobile app that empowers a vetted community of hospitality experts to give private feedback to restaurants in exchange for rewards. The data from the evaluations is provided to restaurants in a real-time, cloudbased interface that highlights areas for improvement, change over time, competitive analyses, and more, to drive continuous improvement.
Think of Servy as the anti-Yelp that is bringing mystery shopping to the 21st century.
“We are currently working with 20+ paying restaurants in NYC, thanks to Food-X,” said CEO and founder Rob Edell. “We love the abundance of restaurants and the entrepreneurial energy here in NY. We’ve also received over 100 Servy Consultant applications.”
With all of the restaurants in NYC to cover, they’ll need them!
Greenease is a mobile app that connects consumers with restaurants, cafes and grocers that buy from local and/or sustainable farms. The company’s ultimate goal is to educate consumers about where their foods comes from when they dine out, and to bring awareness to those businesses supporting local farms and communities.
“When a consumer shops at a farmer’s market or subscribes to a CSA program, they know where their food comes from, but when they dine out, they have no idea where that food comes from,” said Vanessa Ferragut, CEO and Local Food Enthusiast at Greenease. “Greenease disrupts this by bringing awareness to businesses supporting local and/or sustainable farms.”
And being part of the FoodX Accelerator certainly helped.
“We have launched the Greenease app in NYC and met with a number of chefs and buyers. In addition, during the program, we slightly pivoted to incorporate a new service offering – a Greenease Business app that would allow chefs and restaurants to update and track their farms from season to season. We have 10 chefs signed up to be our alpha testers and have found one local NYC developer to help us build this in early 2015.”
Said Ferragut, “We are passionate about creating a trustworthy and transparent platform for chefs to share their food sources, and for consumers to learn about where their food comes from when they dine out/shop.”
Foodie For All
FoodieForAll delivers the top dishes from NYC’s most popular restaurants to employees in their offices for lunch and dinner. And they are the only platform that allows customers to choose different dishes from different restaurants to create their perfect meal.
But then, you know New Yorkers: we want what we want, when we want, and that especially applies to food.
“Gone are the days of the sad desk lunch and dinner! Our customers love to mix and match dishes from different restaurants in the same order,” said founder Oge Akyil.” “They could get an appetizer from Red Farm, a burger from Shake Shack and a cookie from Levain Bakery.”
Being part of the Food-X accelerator certainly helped.
“During our time at Food-X, we did pilots with limited beta customers and we have successfully delivered over 1,000 meals from 25 restaurants, such as Shake Shack, The Meatball Shop and Nobu,” said Akyil. “FoodieForAll is the only platform that can deliver from the top restaurants, because we are the only delivery service that keeps the restaurants in mind. Top restaurants would rather focus on cooking and their diners, and we help them do that. By bringing orders to restaurants during their off-peak times, we can monetize their downtime and deliver their food in perfect condition conveniently to office customers.”
MunchQuick cooks delicious and healthy meals, delivered to you curbside in less than 30 minutes for under $10 with no delivery fees, minimums, and a brand new menu daily. On top of that, for every order placed, MunchQuick donates a meal to local food bank partner, Martha’s Table. The company currently operates in Washington D.C. & Northern Virginia.
“We have grown 110% since joining Food-X. They have been an instrumental part to our success and the advice and knowledge we have attained from Food-X has been absolutely outstanding,” said MunchQuick CEO Asad Yusupov. “Food-X has shown us that creating a profitable business is great, but creating a business that will impact the lives of the community and those around it – that’s what makes a business extraordinary.»
MunchQuick has already donated over 1k meals and plan on donating thousands and thousands more.
Of course the team came to NYC to participate in the accelerator program, but we wondered how the local fare here compares to the food in our nation’s capital.
“Everyone knows DC lacks in the food game compared to most major metropolitan cities, but NYC is really the absolute f**king best when it comes to being able to eat just about anything you want,” said Yusupov.
Nextdoorganics is a triple bottom line local food distribution company working to replace the industrial food system by sourcing from new, young, urban, and activist farmers and food makers to curate weekly grocery orders, which members get via pick up or cargo-bike delivery in New York City.
“As a three-year-old company with good traction, a loyal community of customers, and unique execution in a growing market for local food, Food-X helped us position, network, and prepare a runway for hyper growth,” said Joshua Cook, Nextdoorganics co-founder and CEO. “We crossed our break-even point during our time at Food-X. That was 500 average orders fulfilled per week (average order value is $35). We are doing an average of about 550 orders per week, to date.”
So what’s next?
“We are preparing to expand our neighborhood Hub model (our first hub is in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, sometimes called a food desert) throughout the Northeast. Our Hub is where we receive fresh produce from urban and regional farmers, make vertically aligned products like our traceable trail mix, and where 30% of our customers come to get their orders each week.”