Rabobank is excited to bring FoodBytes! to Texas for the first time on Tuesday, September 26. This pitch competition-meets-networking event brings together the game-changing startups, investors and industry leaders pioneering the future of food and agriculture. Since FoodBytes! launched in 2015, more than 1,400 companies have applied to pitch to over 2,500 attendees at events on three continents.
City: Austin, Texas
Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2 – 8 PM
Venue: Brazos Hall – 204 E 4th St, Austin, TX 78701
In an effort to support those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, FoodBytes! will donate 50 percent of ticket sales from FoodBytes! Austin to the American Red Cross. You can make an additional donation via the HARVEYHELP option on the ticket page.
Beyond The Shoreline
New York, NY
Creator of a new wave of seagreens-based snacks, like “Kelp Jerky”, that are packed with protein and are vegan and non-GMO and free from dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, refined sugar and gluten.
Uses the by-product of coffee milling operations – the pulp and skin of the previously discarded coffee cherry – and turns it into a nutritionally-dense flour. Coffee Flour serves the health and sustainability needs of the food & beverage industry, while also generating significant economic, environmental and nutritional impact in coffee-growing communities.
Reconnecting cities to farms via its "Table-to-Farm" movement, GrubTubs collects and converts food scraps from restaurants into “grubs”, a more nutritious and cost-effective animal feed for local farmers.
Karnataka, Bengaluru, India
Uses Artificial Intelligence for quality evaluation of fruits, vegetables, grains and other agri crops and commodities. Users click an image of the crop, and using AI and Image recognition, they are able to measure quality parameters like crop infestation, nutrient deficiency and commodity quality.
Know Brainer Foods
Makes portion controlled ketogenic products to fuel the mind and metabolism with essential fats, not sugar, so that eaters stay alert and satiated throughout the day.
Native State Foods
Los Angeles, CA
First company to introduce pinole, an ancient Aztec power food, to the U.S. through its Purely Pinole line of hot cereal and snacking products.
Maker of functional sugars that enhance the immune system, promote gut health and reduce inflammation without compromising taste.
Key Largo, FL
Hardware and software solution that reduces fencing and labor expenses on livestock farms and reduces the costs associated with producing pasture-raised beef. Vence Corp offers an Invisible Fence meets Fitbit, for cows.
Vitox Drinking Vinegar
Los Angeles, CA
Fermented blend of raw cold pressed juice and apple cider vinegar that delivers a 100% natural, shelf-stable and naturally probiotic health beverage.
XING Technologies P/L
Creates disruptive, rapid, point-of-care, highly cost-effective nanotechnology solutions for the agricultural and animal health industries. XING Technologies P/L screens for, diagnoses and monitors disease to improve biosecurity and deliver savings.
Aspire Food Group
Developer of the most advanced insect farming technology to produce high quality Aketta™ protein from farm-raised crickets. Aspire also makes environmentally sustainable and nutritious products under consumer brand, Aketta.
Los Angeles, CA
Maker of Date Nectar, a delicious and healthy alternative sweetener and honey substitute made from organic California dates that are vegan, non-GMO, gluten free and fat-free.
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
First-of-its-kind automated retail marketplace that makes fresh food accessible by creating a collaborative ecosystem for food providers and consumers. Frshly offers an IoT ecosystem that connects multiple restaurant partners, host locations and consumers.
New York City, NY
Sells high-quality beef, poultry and seafood online, delivered directly to customers. Everything Greensbury carries is certified organic, grass-fed, free from chemicals and humanely raised.
Makes healthy, delicious, rainforest-friendly fruit snacks that let consumers eat better and help build a better world.
Wellington, New Zealand
Provides irrigation recommendations for farmers via a mobile app that optimizes water use, while maximizing plant growth and minimizing nitrogen leaching.
Developing and commercializing natural and healthy fermented drinks. Ripened Ventures applies fermentation technologies to poorly diversified fruits and vegetables, using autochthonous non-GM microbes previously isolated and identified.
The Empanada Shop
Redondo Beach, CA
Makes certified organic, authentic Mexican empanadas with non-GMO grass-fed meats, vegetables and chiles. The Empanada Shop aims to create a new clean Mexican food experience in the fast casual and frozen food market.
Developer of a flour made from sunflower seeds that has four times more protein and fiber than other flours. Delivers nutritionally balanced baking mixes and other flour based foods that provide one-third of daily protein requirements.
Los Angeles, CA
Makes it easy for people to eat natural vitamins and minerals with its seven nutritionist approved, easy-to-use and 100 percent organic superfood protein mixes for more energy, better immunity and healthier skin.
2 - 3 PM | Opening Reception
Mix and mingle with food and ag innovators and enjoy food and drinks while meeting the demo companies at their display tables.
3:00 - 3:15 PM | Opening Remarks
Manuel Gonzalez, Global Head of F&A Startup Innovation and FoodBytes! Founder and Paul Beiboer, North America Regional CEO, US Regional Management at Rabobank North America.
3:15 - 3:30 PM | 60-Second Pitches
Hear pitches from 10 game-changing food and ag startups from around the world.
3:30 - 5:00 PM | 3.5-Minute Pitches + Q&A
Our 10 pitch company finalists from around the world give 3.5-minute pitches, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A with the audience of investors, media, thought leaders and entrepreneurs.
5:00 - 5:15 PM | Open Mic & Voting
10 attendees will get the chance to give a 60-second pitch on a first come first served basis. Attendees cast their votes via SMS for their favorite demo company, selecting the People’s Choice Award winner. Our judges deliberate to select the Judges’ Choice Award winner from the demo finalists and the Highly Commended Award winner from the 60-second pitches.
5:20 PM | Awards Ceremony
Our judges present the three awards.
5:30 - 7:30 PM | Closing Reception
Mix and mingle some more and enjoy food and drinks while meeting the demo companies at their display tables.
Specializing in food investment, product innovation, retail buying and more, and captained by Rabobank’s Global Head of F&A Innovation Manuel Gonzalez, our esteemed panel brings diverse expertise to the FoodBytes! table.
Senior Director of Sales – Whole Foods Market, The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.
Jamie Brent has over 30 years’ experience in the Natural and Organic products Industry. In his current role, Jamie leads the Hain Celestial sales team at Whole Foods Markets, having joined Hain Celestial 10 years ago.
Previously, Jamie spent 12 years at Wild Oats Markets–7 years as a Store Director and 5 years as a National Buyer and Category Manager. In this role, Jamie led the launch of many small brands that now are distributed broadly across channels.
He taught cooking classes, presented Natural and Organic educational assemblies in public schools for K- 12 students and school administrators and was a guest speaker at Natural Products Expo West, the world's largest and premier tradeshow for the natural, organic and healthy products industry.
Jamie has been a Product Award Judge for the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC and served as Chairman on the Natural & Organic Advisory Council for the Specialty Food Association. Prior to that, Jamie was Grocery Manager for the original Alfalfa’s Markets at Alfalfa’s flagship store in Boulder, Colorado.
Jamie now lives in Austin, TX having spent 24 years in Boulder.
Colonel, United States Air Force, retired. Farmer and champion of sustainable food production, candidate for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture
Kim Olson, U.S. Air Force retired Colonel, holds a Natural-Organic Certification from the Texas Organic Research Center and is a Texas Master Gardener, beekeeper, and Community Supported Agriculture provider at her 4K River Ranch near Mineral Wells, Texas. She is a frequent lecturer on sustainable food production and small-scale farming. And she is now the Democratic candidate for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture.
During Kim’s 25-year service to the Air Force, she was part of the first generation of female military pilots, with 4,000 hours of flying time. As one of the first women to command an operational flying squadron, Kim rose to the rank of Colonel. She served in the Pentagon, and commanded troops in several combat zones, including Iraq. After her retirement from the U.S. Air Force, she served as Director of Human Resources for Dallas ISD, overseeing 22,000 employees and a billion dollar budget. Kim also served as Director of IT and Personnel for the Texas State Guard for three years, and as the retired CEO/President of Grace After Fire, a Texas- based nonprofit dedicated to helping women veterans help themselves, she reshaped how care was delivered to thousands of women veterans. She is an inductee in the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame.
Co-Founder and Chief of EPIC Provisions
Katie is the Co-Founder and Chief of EPIC Provisions, a company specializing in creating nutrient dense meat based superfoods. EPIC is the first consumer packaged goods company to successfully scale a “nose to tail” approach to optimizing the use of the whole animal. The brand creates protein bars made from high quality meat, ready to drink bone broth, organ meat jerky, traditional animal based cooking oils, and most recently pork rinds. Since inception EPIC has partnered with The Savory Institute to help spread awareness of holistic land management and worked actively to grow supply chains of regenerative protein. Katie drives marketing strategy, supply chain strategy, brand design, and is a master of doing EPIC stuff.
Co-founder & CEO, AgFunder
Rob is the cofounder of AgFunder, an online venture capital platform investing in food and agriculture technology companies. Rob is a Forbes contributor and has also been published in TechCrunch, Harvard Business Review, Financial Post, and twice in Nature journals with over 300 citations across both publications. Rob has been invited to Chair, speak, and keynote at dozens of global conferences on food & agriculture, technology, and fintech.
Global Growth & Business Development, Whole Foods Market
Scott is a manager of Global Growth and Business Development team at Whole Foods Market. Our team oversees the Whole Foods Local Producer Loan Program as well as structuring win-win equity investments and partnerships with suppliers and operating partners of Whole Foods Market. Scott’s prior experience includes over 25 years of negotiating deals and growing companies in technology, retail and consumer product sectors as a venture capital Managing Director at Capital Southwest Corporation in Dallas and Triton Ventures in Austin, and as a corporate development manager at Vignette Software, The Hearst Corporation and organic superfoods company Nutiva. The journey has provided Scott the privilege of working with dozens of passionate and creative entrepreneurs.
FoodBytes! Judges' Team Captain / Managing Director at Rabobank North America
Manuel Gonzalez is Managing Director at Rabobank North America and FoodBytes! Judges Team Captain. Previously, he was Managing Director of the San Francisco office and Head of the Western Region Corporate Clients after moving from Mexico City, where he served as the country head for Rabobank Mexico for four years. In the spirit of Rabobank's mission of Banking4Food, Manuel created FoodBytes! in 2015 in an effort to support the search for new ways to increase impact in the Food and Ag innovation space.
Manuel joined Rabobank in 1996 as a project manager in the Project Finance business in Mexico. In 2003, he was named Head of Credit and a year later became the Head of Credit and Legal. Prior to Rabobank, Manuel was the General Manager for six years at Gonzalez Guzman Alimentos, a diary and food distribution company. Manuel holds an MBA from Georgetown University.
Our 20 pitch companies will take part in an invite-only mentor sessions with industry experts. Our mentor sessions originated at FoodBytes! SF 2016 and are part of our continual quest to provide increasing value to our pitch companies and stakeholders. Get to know our incredible lineup of mentors below.
Shareholder, Polsinelli PC
Chuck has sophisticated experience working with entrepreneurs, nascent companies, and venture funds in the food, beverage, and natural products space, and he leads the firm’s Food and Beverage industry group. Chuck has worked with more than fifty consumer products and related brands and advises such companies at all stages of growth, from startups to ready-to-exit, helping them successfully raise capital, complete acquisitions and divestitures, and comply with regulatory requirements. He also advises numerous venture funds with respect to their investments in consumer products companies. The philosophy of Chuck’s group is that clients are long-term partners and not viewed transactionally.
Managing Director, Global Client Solutions, Rabobank
Eric joined Rabobank’s Global Client Solutions Group in January 2015. He focuses on providing equity and subordinated/mezzanine debt private placement advisory services. Eric has over 23 years of investment banking experience, 16 of which have been focused on helping private companies raise growth capital. Prior to joining Rabobank, Eric was a Managing Director with Northland Capital Markets. Before that, he served as a Managing Director at RBC Capital Markets, where he focused on Equity Private Placements. Over the past decade, Eric has successfully advised private placement clients in raising over $3 billion. Eric holds an MBA from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Economics and Business Management from Cornell University.
Head of Acquisition Finance & Sponsor Coverage , NA
In June of 2013, Anne Greven was appointed the Head of Acquisition Finance in North America. Previously, Anne had been co-head of Capital Markets & Head of Investment Banking for Rabo Securities in New York. Anne joined Rabobank in March 2003 as part of the Syndication team where she structured and sold senior debt for the North American client base. In addition, upon joining the bank she was instrumental in establishing the Investment Banking business for Rabo Securities USA. Prior to joining Rabobank, Anne was a Vice President in Morgan Stanley’s Senior Funding Group for five years. In that role, she was responsible for the structuring and syndications of bank debt product throughout the United States. Previously, she had spent six years at TD Securities and worked in various credit areas of the bank, with her last four years on the Capital Markets Desk, Structuring and Syndications. She graduated from Montana State University in 1987 with her BS in Finance and in 1992 received her MBA from Columbia University.
Executive Director, Senior Analyst – Food & Consumer Trends, Rabobank
Prior to joining Rabobank, he was a Senior Economist and Vice President of Sales, Research & Marketing, at LMC International, an independent economic and business consultancy for the agribusiness sector. Prior to LMC, Nick worked as a Senior Research Economist for The Natural Resources Institute in the U.K. Additionally he has worked as a freelance economic journalist, a Senior Economist with the Government of Papua New Guinea, as well as a lecturer/tutor in Applied Economics. Nick holds a M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from Reading University in the U.K.
Founder, Fresh Ideas Group
FIG founder Sylvia R. Tawse has conducted national campaigns for dozens of brands. Her “healthier-living-for-all” commitment is evident in her nonprofit work, from Chef Ann Cooper’s LunchBox.org and Salad Bar Project, to years of work for the Boulder County Farmers Market. Sylvia was an instrumental force in the “Keep Organic Organic” public awareness campaign for the Organic Trade Association, which resulted in the highest number of letters received by the USDA, all 280,000+ of them. Sylvia has firsthand knowledge of the food industry, from the ground up. She and her husband own Pastures of Plenty Farm, a 32-acre organic farm in Longmont, Colorado.
Founder, Nucleus Maximus
Adam founded Nucleus Maximus, a boutique branding and design agency that works exclusively with grocery brands, in 2015. Nucleus Maximus is an instinct-driven agency whose perspectives are continuously sharpened by observance of best practices from the food industry's emerging brands, as well as ground-level exposure to cultural, design, consumer and culinary shifts that shape consumer interests around food and expectations of brands. Nucleus Maximus' core expertise and specialties include brand strategy, product positioning and package design. Adam's work and perspectives have been covered by notable trade groups including Packaging World, BevNet, Project Nosh, Naturally Boulder and New Hope.
Having served in a comprehensive advisory role to food and beverage startups for nearly 20 years and helping one of those startups achieve global brand status with annual revenue in excess of $1 billion, Bob knows what it takes to help startups scale and succeed in the market. He’s deeply passionate about helping entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life from inception to globalization through the development and implementation of a comprehensive and rational go-to-market strategy that aligns with the brand and available resources.
Bob’s helped entrepreneurs: evaluate and implement their go-to-market strategy; develop and test great-tasting and consumer-preferred products; facilitate angel, venture and private equity financing; connect with contract manufacturers and distribution partners; and win with consumers.
Prior to joining WILD Flavors (acquired by ADM in 2014), Bob served as co-founder, officer and board member for F&C International (acquired by WILD Flavors in 1994). He’s also served as an economist, sales leader, president and CEO in a variety of industries.
Rabo Private Equity
Daan joined Rabo Private Equity in 2015 and focuses on investing in Dutch SMEs. He formerly worked as a Business Development Manager with Rabo Farm, an international agriculture equity fund. His responsibilities there included institutional relationship management, new fund initiatives and performance analysis. He has extensive experience with startups and began his career as a Corporate Management Trainee at Rabobank. Daan holds a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Amsterdam and a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Delft University of Technology.
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Rabobank Group is a global financial services leader providing wholesale and retail banking, leasing, and real estate services in more than 40 countries worldwide. Rabobank is one of the world’s largest banks with over $750 billion in assets. In the Americas, Rabobank is a premier bank to the food, agribusiness and beverage industry, providing sector expertise, strategic counsel and tailored financial solutions to clients across the entire food value chain. We know that sustainability and innovation are critical in promoting a thriving food and ag industry that will feed growing global populations for years to come, which is a key focus of our Banking for Food strategy.
Food+Tech Connect gives innovators the tech and business insights, connections and skills they need to transform the food industry through its website, newsletters, events, consulting and business courses. Join the community @foodtechconnect.
Fresh Ideas Group
FIG in 1995 with a vision: build a marketing firm that fills the communications gap between the organic industry, retailers and consumers with effective and powerful storytelling that needs no spin — ever. We excel in the areas of public relations, branding, marketing communications and social media. Our clients’ missions drive us and we accelerate their stories, traditionally and digitally, in a refreshingly unconventional way.
“Supporting FoodBytes! gives Whole Foods Market the chance to help budding brands make connections and grow their businesses, which is what we strive to do within our stores and communities every day,” said Betsy Foster, Global Vice President of Growth and Business Development. “We are also thrilled to see the groundbreaking ideas at FoodBytes!, and look forward to sharing ideas with fellow disruptors of the food industry.”
ADM has been feeding food businesses for nearly 115 years with plant-based proteins, whole-food ingredients and product development expertise. We match your idea to the right ingredients—helping food developers and entrepreneurs get to market faster great-tasting, nutritious foods that consumers love.
ADM is an industry-leading specialty ingredients provider offering an ever-expanding catalog of flavorful, colorful, functional, nutritious and whole-food ingredients through its WILD Flavors and Specialty Ingredients (WFSI) business unit. Whether developers and entrepreneurs are looking for a single ingredient, custom ingredient blend or a complete product solution, we can help them get to market faster with great-tasting, nutritious foods consumers purchase time and time again.
Holland & Hart
Holland & Hart is a national law firm headquartered in Denver, CO. The firm has a strong food and beverage practice and has been part of the industry for decades. They help clients through the entire lifecycle of a company’s growth and pride themselves on working with natural and organic products.
The Hain Celestial Group
The Hain Celestial Group , Inc. is a leading organic, natural and better-for-you products company. As a company, Hain Celestial is focused on growing their business by delivering new and sustainable concepts to consumers and are supporting innovation and entrepreneurs in food and agriculture. Cultivate Ventures, was formed to strategically invest and incubate lifestyle brands, concepts, products and technology, which focus on health and wellness. As an official FoodBytes! sponsor, Hain Celestial and Cultivate Ventures directly align to create and inspire A Healthier Way of Life™.
Nucleus Maximus is a leading branding and package design agency for food brands. Through their dedicated study of the grocery industry, consumer culture, brand-building and design - Nucleus Maximus offers food entrepreneurs an invaluable and evolving perspective to help them earn the attention of the marketplace.
Boulder Food Group
Boulder Food Group seeks partnerships with early stage food and beverage consumer product companies. BFG works alongside exceptional entrepreneurs to ensure the business is able to deliver sustainable growth and outperform its competitors.
PieShell, a reward-based crowdfunding site for only food and beverage entrepreneurs, is a game changer! We’ve built a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, committed foodies, and trendsetters. All food, beverage and hospitality projects are invited: packaged products, beverages, food trucks, cookbooks, restaurants, distilleries, or coffee shops.
Foodwit offers contemporary regulatory and scientific services for the food, beverage, raw material, and agriculture industries. We are a team of food and nutrition scientists driven by technology and experience. Our approach is to simplify compliance.
Whole Foods Market 365 stores are designed to make shopping for high quality ingredients easy, accessible and affordable. Making healthy living easy, every day, for everybody.
AgFunderNews is an industry news site and hub of information for the growing community at the intersection of agriculture, technology, and investment. The site publishes daily, original news on the agriculture technology (“agtech”) industry, including the latest funding news and analysis of trends in the sector. AgFunderNews is affiliated with AgFunder, the online investment platform helping to fund the next agriculture revolution.
We've worked with more than a thousand high-growth tech startups and 150 corporate brands from around the globe. We do far more than just accelerate businesses. The RocketSpace ecosystem, fueled by our deep understanding of what innovation actually requires, provides the world’s top innovators with velocity—speed and direction.
Food+City is a catalyst for supply chain innovation to improve how we feed cities. They do this through storytelling, both online and with an annual print magazine, events, and an annual Food+City Challenge Prize.
The Chobani Food Incubator is a program for companies taking on broken food systems to bring better food to more people. In addition to investment, we give growing food and beverage companies access to our network and expertise in order to scale up their operations and achieve significant growth
The Texas Restaurant Association is the advocate and indispensable resource for the hospitality and foodservice industry in Texas. Our members are historically more robust and successful and frequently connect to share ideas and collaborate. Together with our Educational Foundation, we create lifelong learning opportunities for our workforce.
SKU is THE consumer product goods accelerator. We educate and equip companies, with market-validated products, for growth into world-class brands. During our 14 week accelerator program SKU surrounds 7-10 stellar startups with tailored mentor teams of rockstar entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts. While the accelerator program is only a few months, the relationships and learning lasts a lifetime.
Brazos Hall is a turn-of-the-century warehouse building at the corner of 4th and Brazos. Converted from a 1900's grain mill into an elegant mixed-use event venue with restored long-leaf pine floors, brick walls and wood rafters, Brazos Hall is a venue unlike any other in the heart of downtown Austin's hotel district.
Wild Poppy produces organic fruit beverages. Wild Poppy Juice combines organic fruit juice with spices from around the world and just a touch of sweetness. Wild Poppy Soda is made from organic fruit juice and sweetened with organic cane sugar for a delicious, authentic soda experience.
The first US food company to produce an all-natural, raw honey-based superfood. Apiterra donates 1% of profits to organizations that are fighting Colony Collapse Disorder.
True Made Foods
True Made Foods is making American food healthy again. We use fresh vegetables to naturally sweeten our products and drastically cut back on added sugar, providing you with a tasty healthy alternative.
Good Seed Burger
Good Seed makes chef-driven plant-based foods using high quality and sustainable plant proteins. Our sprouted and paleo/grain free veggie burgers use nutrient dense ingredients like sea veggies, black garlic, cauliflower and hemp to showcase high quality plant-based proteins with unique flavor profiles.
Chameleon Cold Brew
Chameleon Cold-Brew, founded in 2010 in Austin by Chris Campbell, is the nation’s original purveyor of bottled cold-brew coffee. Providing a one-of-a-kind and completely customizable coffee experience, Chameleon uses only certified organic, ethically sourced coffee. Chameleon’s proprietary brewing process carefully controls temperatures for over 16 hours...
Bottled water that is sourced and packaged responsibly. For every bottle sold, GIVN funds a day of clean drinking water for a person in need.
Chapul introduces edible insects into Western Cuisine as a healthy and sustainable protein. We launched the first insect-protein product in the US with our award winning Chapul Cricket Bars, fortified with our signature cricket flour. We represent a growing food revolution intent on increasing the health of our food resources for our children and for the planet.
Victory Hemp Foods
Victory Hemp Foods is building the domestic supply chain for hemp grain. We work with our network of farmers in rural Kentucky to grow hemp, offering them a high value sustainable crop. We then purchase the raw seed from them post-harvest and process it for hemp hearts, protein, and oil. We sell these products business-to-business as an ingredient, through retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Kroger, and directly to the consumer via online sales and farmers’ markets. Ongoing research of production technology to make our process more efficient as well as lab research to develop new markets for products are ongoing.
For nearly 50 years, Celestial Seasonings has created delicious specialty teas that add magic to every moment. The brand currently offers more than 90 flavorful varieties of herbal, green, black, wellness, rooibos and chai teas. Each blend is expertly crafted by our Blendmaster from the finest herbs, teas, spices and botanicals, and is presented in packaging adorned with beautiful artwork and inspiring quotes.
ReGrained “harvests” supergrain from urban craft breweries as a delicious, healthy, and sustainable ingredient.
Austin's first brew, Dale's Pale Ale (of course) rolled off the line at the end of June 2016 and we flung open our doors in late July 2016. OB ATX features top live music acts from the "Live Music Capital of the World", Texas and beyond. Every weekend you can expect great brews, great food trucks, and great tunes in our ginormous Tasty Weasel Taproom and outdoor patio.