We’re thrilled to have the investment experts at Boulder Food Group on board as Official Sponsors of FoodBytes! Boulder! They bring an experienced perspective on partnering with young companies through capital investment and work with some of the best Boulder brands around.
Tom Spier, founder and managing partner of Boulder Food Group, will be a mentor for our FoodBytes! Boulder pitch companies, giving them advice on how to navigate investment issues on the rehearsal day. As a former startup founder himself, Tom has been on both sides of the startup equation and will bring that expertise to our mentor sessions.
We caught up with Tom in Boulder to get his take on the Boulder startup community and how Boulder Food Group works with startups. Check out our quick Q&A below!
To meet Tom and the rest of the Boulder Food Group and FoodBytes! crew, join us in Boulder on Wednesday, October 26! Grab your ticket today.
FoodBytes!: How does Boulder Food Group work with startups?
Tom Spier: Boulder Food Group works with startups by identifying amazing, young brands that sell non-GMO and organic food and beverages. We look to partner with them through capital investment, typically when they’re in the earlier stages of development with at least a million but usually less than ten million dollars in sales.
FB!: What do you look for when deciding which companies to partner with?
TS: When we look to partner with brands, the first thing we consider is the people behind them, whether that’s the entrepreneur or the broader management team. In addition to the people we also consider the strength of the brand, the taste of the product and the quality of the strategy. But it always starts with the people behind it. I think that’s the part of Boulder Food Group that I am most proud of – the type of people we have brought under our umbrella.
FB!: FoodBytes! places a special emphasis on increasing food sustainability. Apart from sustainability what other key trends are you seeing amongst food and ag startups?
TS: Apart from sustainability the key trends we are seeing in food startups really have a lot to do with convenience, which is still a really, really important trend for consumers in general. People are leading busier and busier lives and they want their products to cater to that lifestyle. We’ve also seen unique concepts in packaging innovation, which is one area where sustainability and technology work hand-in-hand.
FB!: What do you see as the most pressing problem in food and ag at the moment?
TS: From my perspective the most pressing problem in food and ag at the moment is the lack of local, organic production in the United States. I believe that organic sales now represent more than 5 percent of all sales in the United States, but less than one percent of all organic food growth occurs in this country. So we are importing the vast majority of organic food that is being eaten in this country creating a clear opportunity for more organic production domestically.
FB!: No doubt startups will be part of the solution there! How have you seen startups overcome some of the unique challenges facing them in the food & ag industry? What made them successful?
TS: Every startup is going to face real challenges when they come into this industry – it’s challenging for lots of reasons. The best entrepreneurs maintain the strongest discipline and perseverance to withstand the ups and downs that come with building a food business in this area. It’s really the quality of the individual and the way they are able to get up each day and deal with any problem facing them.
FB!: How do you think the startup community can continue to place an emphasis on diversity and making sure that diversity is supported and recognized?
TS: I believe that the market will help to solve some of those challenges by creating opportunities for really strong diversity in the industry – the best ideas tend to find the right funding and the right partners. BFG is really fortunate to count four female entrepreneurs among our CEO partners, which represents basically half of our portfolio. We didn’t set out to have half of our CEO leaders be females but they have great ideas, they are great leaders and they are disciplined. We’ve been really impressed by their work. We also have partners across racial lines, which we’re also very proud of.
FB!: Are there companies based here in Boulder that focus on supporting diversity in the industry?
TS: There is a really unique accelerator called Merge Lane which does not only work on food but also different areas of technology and business. They exclusively accelerate businesses that are led by female CEOs which is fantastic. There is also a young venture firm that just launched and they also are going after the same strategy. Meghan Rimmer leads that business is a really qualified person that I am sure is going to help lots of these female entrepreneurs reach new heights.
Want to hear more from Tom and the rest of our FoodBytes! sponsors? Grab your ticket and join us in Boulder on October 26!