When it launched last December, The Food Nest had big ambitions to be a food tech accelerator that helped companies already at market scale up to the next level. It was building out a facility on a decommissioned naval base in Alameda, CA, and was accepting applications for its first cohort, which the company planned to announce in Q2 of this year.
Almost a year later, The Food Nest has pivoted away from its accelerator roots without ever really starting, and is moving towards more of a commercial services space. To find out more, I called up Adan Martinez, Principal of the Alameda Point Redevelopers and the man who came up with the initial idea for The Food Nest.
According to Martinez, the big problem for The Food Nest was getting the actual physical space. He ran into a lot of permitting issues with the city of Alameda that pushed construction of the necessary food manufacturing facilities back. “The development has been going around and around with the city comment,” said Martinez, “We’ve been doing a bunch of work on the buildings.”
The Food Nest was meeting with a number of accelerator applicants, and had even found a handful of companies that they wanted to work with. But without a physical space for these companies to use, there wasn’t much point.
Permitting and building issues, however, were just one factor in the pivot. According to Martinez other contributing factors were the response from capital partners, the general model for CPG companies and the number of other accelerators out there (there are plenty).
So Martinez put the accelerator part of The Food Nest on hold to focus on building out commercial services for food companies. He thinks he’s just about worked through all of the permitting issues with the city and in the next three months will be able to launch The Food Nest 2.0, which will be a ten to twelve thousand square foot facility that will include a commercial kitchen, photography studio and R&D space.
“The accelerator will be an add-on,” Martinez said, “The main business will be service oriented.”
It’s not uncommon for businesses, especially tech-related business, to pivot. Thankfully, The Food Nest was honorable enough to pivot before bringing on a cohort. As we saw with Pilotworks shutting down abruptly this past weekend, if something catastrophic happens to an accelerator, either through poor planning or unforeseen market changes, the damage can impact an entire community.