Growing Ideas: Start-up winners

The best of FoodBytes! San Francisco

Farmer’s Fridge, I Heart Foods, and BioFiltro were victorious at FoodBytes! San Francisco. The first Rabobank FoodBytes! pitch event of 2018 for start-ups in agrifood was held on March1.

Delivering a glimpse into the future of food and farming, 20 start-up companies from the UK, Canada, Sweden, Ukraine, France and the US pitched their bold ideas for improving social impact and sustainability in the F&A chain to a packed house of potential investors. Meet the winners:

Judges’ Choice Award: I Heart Foods of Chicago

The judges selected the pitch company that best demonstrated scalability, innovation, traction and social impact. Under its I Heart Keenwah brand, this company produces a number of quinoa products, from snacks to hot cereal. The judges were impressed with I Heart Foods’ sourcing commitment to Bolivian heirloom quinoa, considered the most sustainably farmed quinoa in the world.

“This win validates our business model and gives us more confidence in what we’re trying to achieve,” says Sarah Chalos, co-founder and President of I Heart Foods. “It’s invigorating.”

“This win validates our business model”

- Sarah Chalos, co-founder and President of I Heart Foods

FoodBytes! People’s Choice Award: Farmer’s Fridge of Chicago

Farmer’s Fridge won the People’s Choice Award, as voted by the audience members and live stream viewers. Disruptive to fast food restaurants, Farmer’s Fridge makes ‘micro-restaurants' in small automated fridges stocked with nutritious meals and snacks that are sustainably sourced and made from scratch. The fridges leverage proprietary IoT technology to communicate with customers, and to provide real-time demand visibility based on data collected daily. Farmer’s Fridge brings good food to places consumers might not expect to find it.

“This will help us grow even faster and bring fresh, healthy food to more people, more swiftly,” says Luke Saunders, founder and CEO. “We’re honored to win this award voted on by the people of FoodBytes!”

FoodBytes! Highly Commended Award: BioFiltro, of Davis, California

Judges selected the Highly Commended Award winner, Biofiltro, from the 10 1.5-minute pitch companies. BioFiltro is an international wastewater treatment company with a patented filtration system that harnesses the digestive power of worms and microbes to remove up to 99% of contaminants in a chemical-free four hour process. Its mission is to provide wastewater solutions that repurpose waste streams into valuable revenue streams, recover natural resources, and revitalize the environment.

“In terms of pitch competitions, FoodBytes! brings real value,” says Matt Tolbirt, CEO for BioFiltro. “Winning this award is validation that sustainable waste water treatment is an issue relevant to many of the largest food companies. And it’s good for business. We landed four new international food companies.”

FoodBytes! is part of Rabobank’s Startup Innovation division and is dedicated to providing a safe haven for its heroes: entrepreneurs with disruptive and game-changing food-ag-tech solutions for a better food supply and growing a better world together.

Since FoodBytes! launched in 2015, more than 1,100 start-up companies from 35 countries have applied to pitch at events in North America, Europe and Australia. More than 170 startups currently comprise the FoodBytes! alumni. Pitch applications are now open for FoodBytes! New York. For more information visit the website and follow FoodBytes! on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram or view curated content via the hashtag #FoodBytes.

Watch I Heart Foods deliver the winning pitch