How F&A Businesses Are Rapidly Innovating to Prepare for the New Economy

FoodBytes! hosted corporate and startup thought leaders to explore an exceptionally pressing topic: how to pivot fast in the face of Coronavirus while fortifying your future business. Our speakers included Robyn O’Brien of rePlant Capital, David Kidder of Bionic, Elliot Begoun of TIG Brands and Sean Daley of Farmer’s Fridge. Each speaker shared a five minute overview of their insights, followed by a robust audience Q&A.

We had 282 participants tune in across 28 countries, 18% of whom were startups, 20% corporates and 9% were investors. For those who missed it or if you want to revisit the insights: you can watch the webinar below, listen to it here, and read on for the main takeaways.



Robyn O’Brien – WHY pivoting is paramount

-We need to address the divide in our food system: From food waste at an institutional level to food insecurity at the retail level, this is the opportunity to examine weak spots and bottlenecks.

-Now is the time to explore supply chain inefficiencies: As these disruptions continue to happen, we have a very thin safety net. We need to prepare our food system for the future by addressing issues like supply chain bottlenecks and employee structuring.

-Diversity can lead to growth: The food industry currently lacks diversity (of channels, of thought leadership), and leadership has an opportunity to address that.

-Pivoting to outside ideas can foster new solutions: By inviting participation from industries outside of the F&A industry, we can bring new solutions forward for our food system.

“Give permission to think differently and to invite people that haven’t been at the table.”

David Kidder – HOW Corporates can start the process

-The first step to starting the process is acceptance: Learn to live in a place between what is controllable and knowable and empower teams to set down the past and discover the “New Now”.

-Drive the discovery of solutions based on changing consumer needs: Tremendous channel model transformations like embracing hyper-localism, commercial grade offerings, and shifting to Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) are necessary solutions to meet the new customer need.

-Transform systems for growth: Companies need to shift the mindset so teams can make many bets into the “New Need” with a high degree of expected failure, to get to new commercial truths.

-Lead with empathy, trust and safety: Allow your companies permission to go on offense and build the “New Future”.

“Permission, responsible abundance, and the world we want – these three ideas on offense is a mental model vital for all of us.”


Elliot Begoun – WHAT startups can do to lead the charge

Capital-efficiency is the new velocity: Evaluate everything based on the cash implication of that decision. Take that cash flow and decide what you need to get through the next 9 months.

-Embrace e-commerce: Emerging brands must be e-commerce enabled, both DTC and B2B brands. There is now a democratized choice mechanism, and entrepreneurs need to be where consumers are looking for product.

Solve for inefficiencies within the supply chain: SKU rationalization (the process of reducing the number of products sold to maximize profit) is something every startup needs to consider right now. You must do more with less.

Find the opportunity amidst the chaos: Examine what has changed in your consumers’ patterns and innovate around that. Examine how much revenue you can generate per unit.

“While the masses are hoarding toilet paper, the innovators are buying bidets.”


Sean Daley – WHEN pivoting is the only option

-Set your company’s mission large enough to be important in any context: Farmer’s Fridge’s mission is to “make it simple for everyone to eat well”. When pivoting is your only option, new initiatives can always ladder up and stay true to that mission.

Always devote resources to innovation: Many of the systems Farmer’s Fridge used to pivot came from ideas explored through our new channels team, like our mini fridges deployed in hospitals so workers don’t need to leave their immediate floor.

-Look beyond your current business: View your current business as your “first customer” of the next set of business lines you can build. Take inventory of unique assets you have and how they can be leveraged into markets where you have a competitive advantage when pivoting.

“Understand where consumers are and how their habits have changed, what their new pain points are, then map how you get those products and services to those consumers today.”

Questions? Drop us a line in the comments or reach out directly (


The views and opinions expressed during this webinar are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Rabobank or its affiliates. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not intended to, and does not, constitute legal, tax, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. 

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