Where We've Been
This month marks the one-year anniversary of Local Food Lab’s inaugural Food & Farm Startup Accelerator.
Since July 2012, Local Food Lab has held three startup accelerators and worked with over 30 early-stage food startups, small farms and food tech entrepreneurs. Our alumni startups have had the opportunity to hear from and collaborate with over 200 food system experts and stakeholders ranging from experienced organic farmers and chefs to venture capitalists who specialize in the technology of food production to school food policy experts. Collectively we learned a tremendous amount about the new food startup and what role it will play in a food system that is more healthy, just and resilient. We also formed strong bonds among a community of food system change-seekers and change-makers.
What We've Learned
While LFL startups were hard at work, food and entrepreneurship collided on a national scale:
- Silicon Valley venture capitalists invested in artisan food startups;
- foodies, farmers and hackers came together for food-centric hackathons;
- new financial products for a “slow” and “local” portfolio began to emerge;
- “cottage food” laws passed making it easier for food entrepreneurs to test and market products from their homes;
- and the consumer demand for healthier and sustainably produced foods continued to grow.
The desire for better food is now (finally!) beginning to coincide with the emergence of the technology and funding needed to grow a new food system. There has never been a better time to launch a food startup and I believe we have only seen the very tip of what the new food startup movement has to offer.
Where We're Going
At Local Food Lab our goal has always been to foster financially and environmentally sustainable food and farm startups in pursuit of a better food system. While we cherish the opportunity to work face-to-face with food entrepreneurs and their allies during our Startup Accelerators, it frustrated us to have to turn away entrepreneurs who could not travel to California or who did not have the resources to participate in our in-person programming.
At the end of our third Food & Farm Startup Accelerator we went back to the drawing board and began to imagine what a more accessible and impactful Local Food Lab could look like. With the help of our alumni food startups, our expert food industry mentors and a few talented developers and designers we began to build a tool that took the learnings of our first year at Local Food Lab and translated them into a web product that could help food startups anywhere launch new ventures.
In the coming months we’ll be releasing the online version of our offerings and asking for your help in vetting and improving what we’ve built. Stay tuned!