As the year winds to a close, so do many of the startup accelerators taking applications. But there are still a few in the foodtech realm accepting potential applicants. Though you won’t find big names like Chobani or Food-X on this current list, what you will find is a mix where most programs are looking for companies that want to give back to their specific region, be it the Midwest, California, or good ol’ Texas.
In no particular order, here are five food startup programs still taking applications:
The Good Food Accelerator
GFA helps its participants — which it calls “Fellows” — to develop a business plan and become investment ready, whether they’re pre-revenue CPG companies or CPGs in the post-revenue phase. Since the accelerator is operated by non-profit FamilyFarmed, Fellows don’t receive any monetary investment from the accelerator. Rather, they pay an annual fee to FamilyFarmed that’s “based on the increase in revenue of their businesses.” (If there’s no growth, companies don’t pay.)
The six-month program takes place onsite at Chicago’s 1871 innovation hub. Participants have to be based in the Midwest or serve the Chicago Food Shed, a region made up of states that border Illinois. This one’s got a very small window for applications, but GFA will accept them through September 13.
SF Bay Area, CA
A non-profit based in the SF Bay Area, Food System Six, or FS6, invites companies working specifically in food systems, whether that’s growing, producing, or distributing. The program’s website lists regenerative agriculture, waste reduction, protein alternatives (bugs!), and natural resources as a few of its areas of focus.
The four-month program, based in the Bay Area, is a combo of workshops, presentations, and mentoring sessions, and is typically a mix of for-profit and non-profit companies. No cash is provided, but FS6 does connect participants with potential investors, funders, and acquirers.
While applications are accepted on a rolling basis, those looking to get into Cohort 4 should have theirs in by November 16, 2018. Cohort 4 starts in February of 2019.
Pronounced “skyoo,” SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) will kick off its seventh installment in March of 2019. Chosen participants take classes and “problem-solving sessions,” and meet face-to-face with mentors every Tuesday for 14 weeks. They also receive a stipend and access to additional funding, in exchange for a small equity stake (SKU doesn’t specify an amount on its website).
The program looks specifically for startups with one or more products on market, as opposed to companies still working with a prototype. As an example of these companies, the SKU 6 clan included “superseed bakery” Guiltless Goodies, La Meca, who makes premium mezcal and cold-pressed baby food maker Pure Spoon.
Applications close on November 21, 2018.
BSH Appliances’s Kitchen Accelerator
Mike Wolf wrote about this one in-depth recently, when appliance maker BSH teamed up with Techstars to create an accelerator aimed at early-stage digital companies. As the name suggests, applying companies’ main focus should be on the digital kitchen.
The program will choose 10 companies to participate for this first cohort, which runs 13 weeks, from February to May, 2019, in Munich. It calls itself a “mentorship-driven program” and focuses heavily on the networking access of business. That said, the fine print also notes that BSH invests $20,000 into each business in exchange for 6 percent of common stock. Since Techstars is involved, participants get an additional “$100,000 convertible note.”
Applications close on October 14, 2018.
Union Kitchen is somewhat different in that it accepts applications year-round for a program that’s much lengthier than others. The main goal of the program is to guide chosen companies from concept all the way to multi-regional expansion, with many steps along the way. The program happens in three phases over a period of just under a year and a half.
They’re also weirdly specific about the types of products they’re looking for: chips, frozen meals, nuts, cookies, trail mix, juice, and popcorn, as well as “healthy snack alternatives.” Chosen participants get linked to mentors, potential investors, and distributors. If you’re not interested in the full program, you can join Union Kitchen to get access to its commercial kitchen space.
Applications for the accelerator are currently open.
I’m genuinely fascinated by popcorn innovation, so I’m biased towards this last program. That said, all of these accelerators should produce some pretty groundbreaking products and services, so stay tuned for more once the programs start.