So you’re a new food startup who wants to level up and get some funding and mentorship. Or you’re a big CPG company who wants to uncover the latest food trends and acquire companies already tapping into them.
The answer for both quandaries might be food accelerators or incubators. Key word: might.
At SKS 2019, we dove into the wide world of food accelerators: what are they, which types of food companies should consider them, and why they’re suddenly all the rage. Weighing in on this conversation from the stage were Natalie Shmulik, CEO of The Hatchery; Tessa Price, Program Manager of WeWork Food Labs; and Peter Bodenheimer, Partner & Managing Director of Food-X.
If you’re contemplating applying for an accelerator program or just curious what they actually entail, you should watch the whole video of the panel below. Here are a couple of standout points made by our speakers to spark your interest:
What do food accelerators look for?
All of the panelists agreed that when searching for candidates for their programs, fit is critical. Shmulik emphasized the importance of a good founder presence. Price said that companies have to align with WeWork’s values and offer some technology that can accelerate WeWork’s ecosystem. For Bodenheimer, though, one of the biggest factors is persistence. “When the sh*t gets tough, will they stick with it?” he asked.
Why are food accelerators so hot right now?
You may have noticed that food accelerators seem to be popping up left and right lately. According to Bodenheimer, this is at least partially because of Big Food companies. He explained that large food and beverage companies typically only allocate 1-2 percent of their budget to R&D, so they turn to accelerators as a way to access more innovative products. Sometimes this can be productive, but other times it can be muddy, especially if the Big Food company doesn’t have a clear objective for their program.
So, what are the newest food trends?
Of course I wasn’t going to let these industry experts off the stage without asking them about the innovative new trends they were seeing bubbling up at their respective accelerator/incubator programs. Shmulik noted that more and more companies were looking to make eating an experience, not just a task. Price spoke about personalized nutrition and on-demand ordering, and Bodenheimer said he’d seen a lot of companies tapping into food as medicine, plant-based offerings and CBD.
If you want to hear the rest of the panelist’s up-and-coming dining trends to watch, or learn more about food accelerators in general, watch the full video below.