This morning, Food-X announced the startups chosen to participate in Cohort 8 of its food innovation accelerator.
The NYC-based program, which has operated since 2014, is one of the most popular food startup accelerators in the world, and also one that supports a wide range of business types up and down the food chain. Just look at Cohort 7, whose roster included companies tackling artificial intelligence, pesticide-management, and plant-based proteins.
Cohort 8’s startups cover some of the same areas, like plant-based protein, as well as a bunch of new ones, like the concept of food as medicine. “Whether it’s finding functional foods to augment our regular diet or looking at food specifically as the solution to specific ailments, this is an area we see massive opportunity in,” Peter Bodenheimer, Food-X’s Program Director, said of the latter category. He also cites sustainability/food waste issues and machine learning as a couple other areas Food-X is especially interested in.
Food-X being one of the most well-known startup accelerators, the eight companies chosen for this cohort were plucked from a rather large pool of applicants: 500, to be exact. Of those eight companies, 85 percent are female led or co-led, which was sort of an intentional move but also one that just happened of its own accord. “I believe that unless you are intentional about these types of issues, things rarely change,” says Bodenheimer, in reference to the gender inequality still prevalent in the food industry (and the startup scene in general). Though he’s quick to add that at the end of the day, Food-X makes offers to those founders and companies they consider the best.
For the three-month-long program, each Cohort 8 participant relocates to the Food-X headquarters in NYC. In exchange for 7 to 10 percent equity, each startup receives $50,000 in cash at program start, along with access to mentors, investors, and Food-X’s larger network. However, Bodenheimer stresses that the upfront cash is probably the least important perk of the bundle, “because when companies become part of Food-X, they are gearing up for a longer-term relationship beyond the three-month program that will have us continuing to support them both with investment and other assistance.”
As an example of this, he cites EIO Diagnostics, a company that participated in Cohort 6. EIO’s product uses machine learning and multi-spectral imagery to identify mastitis (a major endemic disease) in diary animals much earlier than traditional methods can. Since completing the program, the company has closed deals with major dairy cooperatives and also closed funding with what Bodenheimer refers to as “the right kind of investors who will not only provide the capital they need to grow, but the expertise and relationships to increase their chances for success. While fundraising is important, their building a strong and successful business is more so.”
And here’s a quick rundown of the eight companies who’ve now joined the Food-X fold and will (hopefully) encounter the same type of growth and connections:
- Appa Life is geared specifically towards helping athletes manage long-term pain through nutraceuticals.
- Chef Charger supplies restaurants, bars, and cafes with smart chargers that are AI driven and double as ad platforms for food and drink brands.
- Halla is a real-time recommendations platform for grocery stores, restaurants, and their online counterparts.
- Kindly is a meal-delivery service for patients with chronic illness like cancer.
- MISK uses machine learning to essentially turn word-of-mouth marketing amongst friend groups into an online activity that quickly connects users with restaurants.
- Naughty Noah’s Vietnamese aims to bring healthy, sustainable Vietnamese cuisine to more people.
- Planetarians upcycles defatted sunflower seeds to use as plant-based protein.
- TestSharing connects users with things like lab tests and other information about their food that’s not necessarily on the label